The truth is our society is not particularly welcoming towards those who walk around with scars. We are encouraged to not be as open about our wounds and fears. It is this idea that makes us a little less welcoming towards those with mental health issues.
Depression is a serious mental illness. Despite its severity, many people choose to handle it on their own. Some people bottle up their emotions for years and try to remedy themselves because they fear being stigmatized or rejected. Although those with depression sometimes exhibit certain behavior patterns, depression looks and feels different for everyone. If you notice some of these symptoms in someone you love, be compassionate, offer to listen without judgment, and if they ask, help them seek professional help.
- They spend their energy fighting off other symptoms of depression.
Unfortunately, fatigue is a common symptom of depression. Despite their similarities, depression and chronic fatigue are different on one key point: someone with chronic fatigue usually wants to do things, whereas someone with depression does not have any energy. Most of their energy is to fight off other symptoms of depression or to conceal their depression.
As a result, they may begin to neglect certain chores or habits. If you notice this in yourself or someone you know, try to encourage yourself or make life a bit easier. It’s okay to take it easy for a while. Develop routines that can help you work smarter instead of harder.
- They spend time distracting themselves
Social media can be a powerful tool for connection and creative expression. But, more often than not, it is a tool for escapism. It allows us to view and experience things we would not usually experience in our reality. Although this is not grounds to vilify social media applications, it should give us pause about how harmful it can be to our mental health.
People with depression sometimes resort to social media as a source of distraction. However, it can exacerbate your symptoms. A 2019 study published in The Lancet found that nocturnal social media activity disrupts sleep which negatively affects your mood–making you feel more unhappy or depressed. Another study conducted and published in 2018 by the University of Pennsylvania found that lesser time on social media meant happier moods.
Hence, if you notice that you or someone you know prefers to spend time distracting them on social media, find a healthier and more engaging activity to substitute social media usage.
- Sometimes, they may send a cry for help
Although most of us tend to keep our emotions at bay, it is good to reach out to someone. Unfortunately, not many of us do, even though we may want to.
Most times, people who experience depression may want to let other’s know how they are feeling but fear becoming a burden. Hence, they may make a passing remark disguised as a joke or type out a long text but erase it before sending it.
These muted cries for help may not always be noticeable, but if you have a hunch that someone is trying to reach out, let them know that you are always available to talk.
- They might engage in habitual remedies.
To ameliorate emotional turmoil, someone with depression might resort to coping mechanisms. They may try remedies like listening to music, painting, knitting, working out, going for bike rides or walks. All these coping mechanisms are healthy if they help you cope.
However, some coping mechanisms are unhealthy. Maladaptive daydreams and romanticizing the past are examples of unhealthy coping mechanisms. They are unhealthy because they distract you from your life and often make you value your daydreams over reality. It can cause a behavioral addiction that leads to complete absorption in fantasy, social withdrawal, and neglect of everyday life.
Some ways to deal with maladaptive daydreams are to reduce fatigue and avoid external triggers. However, the best way is to reach out to a therapist for help.
- They are comforted by reruns
We all have movies or tv series that we wouldn’t mind watching again. For people who experience depression, watching reruns of old shows provide so much comfort and nostalgia. There is no threat of a potential death of a favorite character, a plot twist, or jump scare. Watching reruns makes you feel calm and at ease, and there is nothing wrong with that.
People who experience depression may exhibit many different symptoms. Some good and some bad. Regardless of someone’s behavior, you should always extend kindness and compassion towards those with mental health issues and towards yourself.
If you ever need assistance or guidance, please reach out to a licensed therapist.
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Morin, A., & Snyder, C. (2021, February 22). Could You Have Smiling Depression? Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-smiling-depression-4775918.
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