More than 300 million people worldwide are suffering from depression, according to the World Health Organization’s 2018 statistics. While depression is a common mental illness that affects both men and women, it is more common in women.
According to the Mayo Clinic, there are several types of depression, as well as different disorders that can include depression symptoms. A couple different types of depression include, but not limited to major depression, bipolar affective disorder, postpartum depression, and persistent depressive disorder. Each person may experience and react to it differently depending on their situation and the level of depression they are experiencing.
“When I get depressed, I just want to be alone, listen to sad music and cry. I start to think about all the pain I have been through and sometimes I want to give up, but then I also remember, I got this far and I can make it through another bad day” said an individual living in the Virgin Islands, who is experiencing depression.
Undergoing heartfelt situations such as losing a loved one, being let go from a job, ending a serious relationship, experiencing abuse, a family history of individuals who have been diagnosed with depression, as well as experiencing a major adjustment in an individual’s life can affect the way one feels.
“While my boyfriend was working at the graveyard, I would often think to myself, I should just drown this crying naked mole rat of a baby in the bathtub and then go find my boyfriend’s gun. … The reason I did not do it is because I could not bear to put my baby or my boyfriend in that kind of pain of suffering, so I decided to suffer instead,” said a mother from the Virgin Islands, who was suffering from postpartum depression after her first born child, and is now seeing a therapist for treatment.
“My fiancé told me that I do not know how to raise my son, and he will never be a man like him. Around that time, depression became more real for me. I was not eating or showering. I was feeling lower than ever. I realized the man who I thought was the love of my life, was a broken person and every time I would try to fix him, I would just end up hurting myself; similar to trying to fix a broken glass, you will just end up hurting yourself. Now that he is gone, I have decided that I was not going to cut myself anymore, I was not going to save him anymore. I decided to put myself and my son first,” said a young single mother from the Virgin Islands, who is suffering from depression after ending a relationship with the man she thought she was going to marry.
Some of the symptoms one may experience when depressed include, but are not limited to: sleeping too little or too much; eating too little or too much; feelings of hopelessness and helplessness; difficulty concentrating and having low energy.
“It is embarrassing to say sometimes, but yes, I do think about hurting myself when I am depressed or feeling sad. Sometimes I will not eat at all, and then sometimes I will eat my feelings away. I think it helps when I remember that this pain is temporarily, and that it is OK not to be OK every day. We all have our bad day, and to get to the good days, we need to overcome the bad days” said a local individual who has been diagnosed with depression for a couple years and seeking therapy to help.
Treatments for depression include antidepressant pharmaceuticals, the different forms of psychotherapy, and alternative medicine.
Those who have any of these symptoms or experience sadness often, can seek help from a mental health professional. Anyone who knows some one like that can encourage them to see a professional.
“I was nervous at first to go to therapy, it is such a small island, but talking to someone who is just there to listen and understand me … well it feels great. It really is a great feeling, especially because I know everything is confidential and my therapist will never judge me,” said another individual living in the Virgin Islands, who was diagnosed with depression.
Jessica Whyte, a licensed mental health counselor at J.W. Behavioral Center in Charlotte Amalie, is conducting a women’s groups to address issues such as depression and other mental health concerns in our community. Depression can have residual effects in our homes, ultimately affecting our community.
“The goal of this group is to normalize the stigma of depression and encourage others to seek help. Depression doesn’t have to debilitating, we confront it, and live full, functional, successful lives,” Whyte said.
One of the bravest acts a person can do is choosing to continue to live, when they feel like they have nothing left to live for. So many people suffer from depression but do not realize it. So many of these individuals are stronger than they think. If you are someone, or know someone going through depression, please see to it that they know they are not alone, and that there are services in the Virgin Islands to help them.
Get help if you need it, because the pain you or a loved one is going through will not last forever, nothing lasts forever. And in order to develop and gain strength for tomorrow, you just have to get through today’s struggle. As a popular saying goes “Keep your head up. God gives his hardest battles to his strongest soldiers.”
So, continue to stay strong soldier.
Nour Suid was born and raised in the Virgin Islands. She recently graduated with a doctorate in clinical psychology and is working on a doctorate in naturopathic medicine. She works locally as a therapist with individuals of all ages to help those with mental illness.