Major depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States.
-National Institute of Mental Health
Does that surprise you?
And if it should, why?
It is within the opinion of the author that depression is one of the most oppressive mental diseases yet one of the most side stepped in terms of awareness or general care. Generally it has been seen that depression, or bouts of depression, are most often tossed aside as overreaction, an occurrence of emotional instability, or an event that will quickly pass due to the nature wherewith depression was brought upon. Simply said depression is often thought upon as a soon passing overreaction to an outside source…It’s temporary.
16,000,000 adults, or 6.9% of adults in America were reported to have had experienced at least one depressive episode in 2012.
What is depression?:
The most common definition of depression states that it consists of “severe feelings of despondency and dejection”. It must be said at this point that everyone goes through moments of sadness and difficult seasons in their life but the majority of the emotions stemming from these events do in fact remain temporary. Within a few days someone would find themselves emotionally resolved to the situation and able to move on with their life. Depression is quite the opposite. Depression literally debilitates the human and incapacitates any motivation to live life normally or to accomplish their typical responsibilities on a given day. The National Institute of Mental Health indicates that Major Depression can and will “interfere with your ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy life”. It is an emotional despondency that literally incapacitates any sense of logical flow of thought.
Who does it commonly affect?:
The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance reports that, “Major depressive disorder affects approximately 14.8 million American adults, or about 6.7 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older, in a given year.” They also state that “As many as one in 33 children and one in eight adolescents have clinical depression.” Women are commonly reported to experience depression on a more consistent basis than men and in women, postpartum depression is commonly experienced (depression following childbirth). The Huffington Post reports that 30% of college students have reported experiencing bouts of depression that affects their studies and day to day living.
Depression and Suicide:
The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance gives staggering results of surveys pertaining to the correlation of depression and suicide. Below are listed just a few of said results…
Depression is the cause of over two-thirds of the 30,000 reported suicides in the U.S. each year. (White House Conference on Mental Health, 1999)
For every two homicides committed in the United States, there are three suicides. The suicide rate for older adults is more than 50% higher than the rate for the nation as a whole. Up to two-thirds of older adult suicides are attributed to untreated or misdiagnosed depression. (American Society on Aging, 1998)
Untreated depression is the number one risk for suicide among youth. Suicide is the third leading cause of death in 15 to 24 year olds and the fourth leading cause of death in 10 to 14 year olds. Young males age 15 to 24 are at highest risk for suicide, with a ratio of males to females at 7:1. (American Association of Suicidology, 1996)
Does anyone see a problem?
Can I refer you to a point that I made at the beginning of this post? Depression is one of the most common mental diseases yet it is often the one that is most commonly stepped over. It is quickly brushed aside with a “kind” word or suggestion that one should not feel the way that they should. This simply does not help. In fact, such statements or intentions only serve to push someone deeper into depression. It leads to the belief that there is no one who truly understands.
Another area of concern with depression is that of Christians. Aren’t Christians supposed to have the “joy of God”? If there is anyone who shouldn’t experience depression it’s Christians. Wrong.
Some of the most prevalent figures in Christianity have struggled with horrid depression. Charles Spurgeon (the Prince of Preachers), Paul the Apostle, and even Jesus to name a few. The misconception that Christians should not, can not, and will not experience depression has only been fed by the general consensus of secrecy breeding within the walls of the Christian Church. Many Christians suffer from such a disease and no one knows about it because of the false ideas, ignorant mindsets, and overall apathy towards such a topic.
Depression is serious. It should not be overlooked and it should not be something that is kept quiet. Unfortunately it is rarely discussed and rarely diagnosed because of the idea that it is somehow weak to be sad. As we continue to tread through this topic I hope and pray that your eyes will be opened to the epidemic storming our church doors, our school halls, and the bedrooms of our homes. If you happen to be experiencing this yourself I pray you will find help. Having gone through some of the same struggles I personally will always be willing to listen. This is a place of refuge, a pool of hope. Please, do not give up. You are not alone.
It is within the hope that at least once a week an article will be posted. It is also hoped that conversation and eyes would be opened to this topic. I can only do so much; the rest is up to you. Make a difference, speak up, and stand out. If at any time you or someone you know of mentions or attempts suicide do not hesitate to get help. Lives are at stake and believe it or not those lives are closer than you think.