Many people think they are depressed because they are sad about something terrible that has happened in their life. Maybe they lost a loved one. Maybe they even just lost a job. You may be surprised to find out that outside of physical abnormalities inside the brain, depression is not caused by sadness.
Depression is a very difficult condition to diagnose. In many people, there are no real physical signs, especially in people who have become very good at hiding their feelings. Depression isn’t like somebody who falls and breaks his arm where the break is visible to an x-ray. Depression is not something you can see. Not even trained professionals can always correctly diagnose somebody who is clinically depressed. What makes this condition even more difficult to diagnose is the misconception of what causes depression. Outside of those physical abnormalities, depression is not causes by sadness but is caused by conflict.
If you’re scratching your head wondering exactly what this means, the best way to explain it is with a hypothetical example.
You’re dating a nice girl. You’ve been dating for quite some time and you fall in love with her. You are so sure that she is the girl of your dreams. Then suddenly you find out something about her that makes you realize that if you were to marry this girl you would have some serious problems. Well, you’ve got a real problem. You can’t live without her because of the way you feel about her but you also know that you’re not really going to be happy if you go ahead with the wedding. You are confronted with a serious conflict. If you think this doesn’t cause depression you need to think again. This is the major cause of depression.
The reason for it is simple. There’s no solution. At least no simple solution. If you break up with the girl then you’ve lost a really great love. If you marry her, you doom yourself to a life that you know won’t be as happy as you were hoping for. Either choice you make, you lose. It’s a no win situation until you can resolve the conflict. That is the hard part. That is where psychiatrists can help. They do this by trying to get you to work through which option would be the better of the two. Eventually, after a lot of therapy and a lot of pain, a decision is reached, the conflict is resolved and the depression lifts.
Again, there are types of depression that are actually caused by physical imbalances of certain chemicals in the brain. For these cases of depression, certain drugs can help correct these imbalances and the sufferer can live a normal life. Yes, there are side effects, some of which aren’t too pleasant. So the patient needs to keep this in mind.
Depression is a terrible thing. But with the proper treatment, whether it be for chemical imbalances with drugs, or with therapy for emotional conflicts, depression can be controlled and even conquered. It’s a life long battle. But it is one that can be won.