My perspective on life has almost always been "the glass is half full" -- even during difficult moments. Therefore, I never thought that depression would be something that might affect me. My limited understanding about depression was that someone felt bad or sad; however, I never really thought about the personal impact of depression. My lack of knowledge about depression -- its symptoms, effects, impacts, and treatment options --would later prove to be troublesome for me.
Depression is a personal experience that impacts individuals differently; although, understanding the way depression can impact someone's attitude, behavior, emotions, and future outlook are important to help anyone affected or effected by this mental health challenge. The evolution of my depression might not be the same as others, but it's still important to share my experiences so that others can benefit and hopefully choose to seek treatment before their depression advances.
My depression advanced in phases:
- Early Warning -- Emotional reactions start to happen periodically; there aren't any continuous periods of feeling bad.
- Early Onset -- An increased awareness that something doesn't feel normal. There's a heightened recognition that the periods of feeling bad or down are more frequent. These feelings mark the initial signs that emotional and mental changes have started to impact daily activities.
- Noticeable Impact -- Feelings of being down or not wanting to participate in normal activities start to increase. There's a decreased desire to be productive, engage with others, or continue activities normally used for relaxation and stress relief. Negative thoughts about life and the future start to happen more often.
- Disengagement -- Time spent on productive activities and with others occurs less frequently. There are increased instances of feeling negative about life, more times spent alone, and more frequent excuses to not be around others.
- Disruption -- Bad days start to be the norm and good days seem to occur less frequently. There are more emotional periods/outbursts, which impact positive thoughts, productivity, and also led to increased periods of self-imposed isolation. Future plans aren't really considered anymore; thoughts become focused on ways to end the pain and suffering.
- Life Impacting -- Thoughts are usually very negative about others generally and life specifically; periods of isolation are normal. Emotional outbursts/reactions increase, normal activities are almost non-existent, suicidal thoughts change from thoughts to fantasies/plans, and the desire to live no longer exists.
If any of these phases are identified in yourself or others, it's time to take steps to begin:
- Recovery -- Actions taken to resolve any emotional or mental health challenges that affect positive thinking: attitude, behavior, emotions, and future outlook. Efforts to actively manage negative thoughts begin, which help to increase positive feelings, productivity gains, personal happiness, and plans for the future. Previously discontinued activities slowly start to return to normal.
This description about the way my mental health challenges evolved is a personal perspective about the potential impacts of depression. This information shouldn't be used as a medical reference. Notwithstanding, anybody who experiences feelings of depression should seek assistance as soon as possible to minimize any potential negative impacts.
Anyone affected by depression should understand that there are many different options that can be used to treat and resolve mental health challenges; for example, exercise, discussions with family/friends, massage therapy, medicine, meditation, prayer, psychologist/psychiatrist, support groups, writing, and more.
Nobody has to struggle alone, as there's always someone who is willing to provide assistance. The challenge -- many times -- is to be willing to identify assistance and give someone an opportunity to help.
Remember -- no matter the length of your journey, don't forget to be your best!
Anyone who needs assistance should contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org or 1-800-273-8255.
A collection of Mr. Young's articles and interviews about depression are available at: www.slyoung.com/depression.html
Additional information about Mr. Young's journey to overcome his depression and near-suicide can be obtained in his book "Choosing to Take a Stand: Changed me, my life, and my destiny"
This post originally appeared on S. L. Young's blog on his website at: www.slyoung.com
If you -- or someone you know -- need help, please call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. If you are outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of international resources.
If you have a story about living with mental illness that you'd like to share with HuffPost readers, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please be sure to include your name and phone number.