memoirs

Depression: What We Can Learn From Others

depressionThe National Institute of Mental Health defines depression as being a ‘common but serious mood disorder. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working. To be diagnosed with depression, the symptoms must be present for at least two weeks.’ Caused by a combination of genetic, environmental, and psychological factors.

Millions of Americans battle with major depressive symptoms every year. Without treatment and continued therapy by way of counseling and/or medication, the future prognosis is rarely promising. While there is still much to learn about the causes, symptoms and treatments for depression, people living with depression today are generally considered to be better off than those just a couple decades ago.

What’s more, people are much more open about their struggles with mental illness today, than compared to not that long ago. A sign that efforts to chip away at the stigma of mental health disorders are working. Which has led, in turn, to more and more prominent people speaking or writing about their own struggles with the hope of helping others floating in similar boats.

Words On Depression

There are scores memoirs that have been written by people struggling with mental illness, such as addiction and depression. While some are better than others, they all have a hand in continuing the dialogue about mental health disorders. There is a lot you can learn about your own issues by reading about others’. You can read about what they have gone through, what worked for them and what didn’t.

The symptoms of mental illness can often make the affected feel as though they are alone—that nobody understands their plight. In a world where keeping your feelings to yourself is often the norm, such reservations to share can prove fatal for those suffering from depression. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that the majority of people who experience symptoms of major depression, never receive any form of treatment. Depressives will often turn to drugs and alcohol to cope, and when that stops working suicide is typically the next logical step. Preventing such eventualities is of the utmost importance.

This Close to Happy

There is a new memoir on depression that you may want to take a look at, written by Daphne Merkin a former film critic for The New Yorker. In 2011, The New Yorker published an essay of Merkin’s about being diagnosed with depression and the psychiatric hospitalizations that would follow, The Washington Post reports. The essay resulted in Merkin being commissioned to write a book about her experience.

Like most memoirs, “This Close to Happy: A Reckoning With Depression” brings readers back to the beginning and then proceeds to take the reader on a journey that people living with mental illness will recognize quite well. While everyone has a different story, the similarities are often beyond refute.

Ironically, the book was almost never finished, the article reports. Being hindered by the very condition she was writing about. “The memoir earns a place among the canon of books on depression, including Andrew Solomon’s “The Noonday Demon,” William Styron’s “Darkness Visible” and Susanna Kaysen’s “Girl, Interrupted” — books that offer comfort to fellow depressives and elucidation for those lucky enough to have dodged its scourge.”

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