Depression and hope
Christmas is over, the decorations packed and the eerie silence of societal inactivity stretches beyond the horizon. So as I write this article on the day psychologists call Blue Monday, or the 3rd Monday of January, what will it be like for many?
Well for some it will just be an ordinary winter Monday, one in which activity and engagement prevail; where sorting out arrangements, engagements, meetings, events and meaningful action take priority. For them Blue Monday will just be a media label that makes side-line news, assuming they manage to get that far down the news columns. For some it will be a day when winter may feel never ending, cold and damp; a day in which summer and fulfilling New Year resolutions all but a distant memory. But for some, the most depressing day of the year will resonate strongly with their mental and physical state of hopelessness and helplessness. For them feeling blue is a daily condition which can't be reduced to a date.
Whilst the media may draw light in today being the most depressing of the year, unfortunately depression is a far more complex illness than a calendar day. Clinical depression is a condition which overwhelms and consumes. It deprives a person of themselves and their sense of themselves. It can slam them into submission and isolation; not only with others but themselves. To have a day in which feeling blue can be labelled because of arbitrary variables such as "debt", "motivation", "weather", is to make light of an all-encompassing illness which hurts those who are impacted by depression.
So, on this day in which depression has its name day, what can I offer those who live with this debilitating condition?
Unfortunately, there are no quick and easy answers but seeing a counsellor can offer hope. Not hope the bills will sort themselves out, but hope that depression can be treated and seen beyond a permanent residence. With the right conditions depression can be understood, challenged and changed; even for treatment resistant patients (Abbass, 2006). By working with an effective mental health specialist even the most redundant and malignant ways of behaving can be opposed and altered. This applies not only to depression but to other forms of mental health related issues such as anxiety, panic, self-harm and fear. Once clients come to see themselves as worthy of love, care, compassion and honesty then hopefulness and possibility become possible.
So, on Blue Monday I wanted to share the simple but important message that hope exists for suffers of depression. And that doesn't just apply to the 3rd Monday of January but to any day of the year.
Abbass, A: ISTDP treatment resistant depression: A pilot study: Depression and Anxiety 23:449–452 (2006).