Recently, with the death of actor and comedian Robin Williams, we vividly saw how depression could make something very bad look very good. Depression is a powerful destructive force that slowly draws one unknowingly into the clutches of bad thinking that seems good. By the time suicidal thoughts begin, there is not much chance the depressed person will reach out on his/her own.
Severe depression rewires the brain and alters not only the brain chemistry, but the neuro-connections as well. The altered brain loses perspective and tends to compound negativity with negative analysis, predicting only more negativity. Your brain literally drives you against desire, and will until the spiral downward fuels itself downward even more.
Picture a slippery slope with an increasing angle of descent making recovery less likely the further one goes down the slope. Eventually there is a point at which hopes of recovering give way to thoughts of suicidal relief.
Only those who have been in that abyss will truly understand the power of depression. Complicating the matter are those who continue to underestimate the power of its grip. These uninformed ones can come across as condescending and minimizing of the inner pain that accompanies severe depression.
Nearly every person who begins the slide down the slope is hesitant to share the painful state with others. Who will understand? Why can’t I just get over this?
Severe depression does start at a place where one might get help if aware of where it could lead. Spotting early signs is critical. For those who tend toward depression, those close to you need to know of this tendency in order to help provide perspective on early warning signs.
I personally suffer depressive tendencies. Twice in my life, it took me to the very edge. In both of these instances, my thoughts were telling me that those closest to me would be better off without me. Bad thinking sounded good.
In the last twelve months at UGM Salem, we have served over 2,000 men and women experiencing homelessness. In my assessment, about 65% suffer from mild to moderate depression, and about 10% are severely depressed, some to the level of psychotic depression. With each person we serve, our staff looks for signs (downcast countenance, low motivation for change and poor hygiene are just a few) and intervenes with directive assistance.
Depression can kill you. Get help before it’s too late.