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I Don't Understand Depression!

Many women in my church, young and old, have told me they suffer or have suffered from depression. Some of them have been treated (? I'm not sure if this means they were admitted to a hospital or not) and I think all of them have been on some sort of medication like anxiety medication or full blown depression like Prozac.

I don't suffer from it but I am asking if anyone here can tell me exactly what it is without medical terminology. I don't have a history of it in my family and I can't recall any of my friends having it so I don't know.

I am just trying to understand some of the women I know - not WHY they are depressed but simply what depression is. To me they just seem to feel sorry for themselves and can't seem to think about other people. It seems like a very self centered problem. Alot of them have shared they just stay in bed some days and can't do anything. Does depression block something in your blood? brain? I don't want to judge them so that's why I'm here asking about it.

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5/3 Regarding one of the last few people to respond, I know I can go to Webmd.com or any other website but I wanted to hear from people who actually had depression. And for one of the earlier people who said I am already judgemental and no wonder no one likes me, I'm sorry you feel my pursuit of understanding something makes me such a terrible person.
5/2 Words can't express how truly grateful I am for your responses. You've been so gracious and I need to ask for forgiveness for being so insensitive in my request. Please believe me when I say my intentions were pure yet I think because I didn't know the intensity of this illness I didn't ask with a lot of sensitivity. I am so very,very sorry. All your stories touched my heart and I found myself crying while reading through some of them. Thank you to those who have entrusted my request to share your personal story. I was not aware of the pain and struggle so many of you are suffering and I wish with all my heart my words now will convey the humility and respect I have for those who responded with so much grace and so much acceptance. My intentions were not to hurt, I hope all who read my request to know that. If you have read my other requests you will understand my struggle in finding my place in my church and in this world. You all have blessed, blessed,blessed me and I pray God will bless all of you for helping me understand. Thank you for helping me to see how I can be a compassionate, loving, Christian friend in a world and yes, even in a church that seems dark and hopeless. I want so much to be a loving Christian friend, for my children's sake but also for God's glory. I will remember you in my prayers this week. Pray for me that I be an understanding and compassionate friend. I am humbled.

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http://www.depression.com/ explains that depression is a medical condition that a person cannot just "snap out of". It is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain.

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Well I know that I suffered from depression. And you are correct that it does appear the a depressed person is self centered. But actually is quite the opposite. They want to be with people and help others but they just cannot bring themselves to do it. Sometimes its because the lack of confidence that comes with depression. So you just do not even try. I know that I just felt as though nothing I did was right or good enough. I was always sad and felt as though I should just disappear. But I soon was on medication and taking with my family and I was straightened out. Some do think it is a chemical inbalance. Sometimes a hormonal inbalance. And some say it is hereditary. My M. and dad both had it. But try to understand that these people are fighting such a battle within themselves that there is no energy left for daily items. Much less try and do things for other people. A lot of positive reinforcement helps. I know you may feel like the gerbil in the wheel but keep supporting them and listening. You do not know what that means to them and it is helping.

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Wow. Thank you for posting this!! All the responses have given me lots of food for thought.
I seem to suffer with "mild" depression and have for years. My sisters don't understand-you have a nice home with a good husband, good kids, etc., etc.
I tried medication for one year but didn't like the other side effects (sexually) which made me feel more cut off from my spouse so stopped. I talk with him constantly and amazingly, he still loves me despite my feelings.
One thing I tell my children-when people are hard to be around it just means they don't get enough hugs!!
So depression is a physical and mental thing. When one of those ladies seems to be really nagging about something-just give them a hug!!
If any of you other people who posted know of a place to "chat" with other sufferers, I would love to have a link to it. When I google depression, it just takes me to clinical info.

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This is not a short answer....
It is good that you are asking and trying to understand.
I used to be the same as you and think depression was for weak, self centered, lazy people.. Just an excuse.

Depression is a physical illness. It is caused by the brain misfiring. The medical community are not always sure what or why it happens but many times it is a chemical imbalance. It is a real illness and many, many people suffer from it, but have no idea what is happening to them.
It is being diagnosed more, because the symptoms are now considered when drastic behaviors occur. We are also better educated.

It can occur in males or females and at any age and at any time.

Since women have huge changes in their hormones every month,again while pregnant and right after giving birth, many women seem to be diagnosed.. Also women are more likely to go to a doctor.

Have you ever met someone who has a certain personality and then they just seem to change in their behaviors?

For example a very enthusiastic happy person who then becomes aggressive and angry or frustrated for no reason over a few months? You could make a comment about their hair, for example, and they all of a sudden they become defensive for no real reason and assume you do not like their hair? You notice this is just not like them.

Or a person who you were always in contact with and all of a sudden they do not respond to your calls, emails, do not attend functions or participate the way they used too? You could always count on them and all of a sudden, they are just not available, ever, you may have trouble even getting hold of them.

Maybe a friend, that just seems over stressed and all of a sudden cannot make any decisions and becomes weepy?

These are all changes that need to be noticed and addressed. I also like to describe it as PMS on steroids and it never ends.

This is a feeling they CANNOT control. They will be embarrassed by their actions, but not be able to apologize, because, they just do not have the energy.. and I do not just mean physically, I mean their mind is exhausted.

Different people will handle all of this differently, so it is sometimes difficult to know unless you are extremely close to friend or relative or actually live with them.

Some people just shut down. Untreated they will get worse and worse and terrible things can happen, because they do not know what on earth is happening to them. They are in denial, because they have always been "the strong person" everyone has always depended on. In extreme cases, it is not unusual to consider suicide, because they are thinking that they are harming their families with all of their anger. Or that they can no longer contribute.The guilt can be the worst.

Also many people just tell you to "snap out of it", "quit being so self centered", "stop thinking only about yourself". People will bring up all of the things you are not doing any more. All of this just leads to more stress, more anger and more embarrassment to people with depression.

The way it is first treated is with counseling and mild anti anxiety medication. This is to help your brains chemicals get back in order. Some people will take special homeopathic treatments to help with mild cases. In some people they will go back to their original personalities and others will just need to continue with the medication. The important thing is to not self diagnose. If people feel like their old selves and quit their treatment, they can really end up hurting themselves. If this does not help, some people may need to go to a facility so that they can be monitored at all times. It is not forever and they are not "insane" or anything. Their brain is ill.

I have a friend that suffered for many, many years and finally in January committed suicide. This is the neighbor and friend to soooo, many people. At her memorial service, there were over 250 people in attendance... So many people stood up to speak about her and after 2 hours we began to realize almost every person had considered this woman their "best friend". She would help everyone with their problems, she helped them in all ways and be everywhere at once, she was the life of the party,but she was in terrible pain, not feeling like she was doing enough. She loved her family so much, she was the perfect M.. It seemed to all of us, she loved her family more than any of us could ever love...She was also very accomplished with many degrees and an expert in many things. But at some point fer families home life became chaotic with her mood swings. And this last year, she would argue about EVERYTHING, with EVERYBODY. If we asked her if she was ok, she would either weep or would blow up. I actually was so upset by some of my conversations with her, I could not sleep some nights.

I hope that this answered some of your questions.

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Well it is better to understand a problem rather than Judge. I have suffered from depression. Its not something you can talk yourself out of. Some days its like being in a cave and you can't find your way out. Some days its like trying to run through jello, you know there are things that need to be done but you can't seem to move to do any thing about it. I suppose it could seem a little self centered, but the thing is you don't really focus on your self either. My father also was severely depressed, and it was frustrating because he just couldn't find the energy to better his life at all. And then when all of the inevitable consequences came(divorce, financial ruin) it just furthered his depression. He never could get up and do anything about it. I think it may be hereditary. His father actually killed himself.
Hope this helps, try not to be too harsh on your friends at Church. they are not meaning to be self centered, but its hard to see other people through this fog.

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My doctor compared it to diabetes, where the body doesn't make approptriate use of insulin, only with depression the body (brain) doesn't access the seratonin.

When people say "treatment" for depression, usually is is short term or possibly long term course of meds like Prozac, and what might be called "talk therapy"... dealing with whatever got them to the depressed place and finding a way to live through it.

Sometimes it is so mild you wouldn't see it from the outside, but it can be downright disabling.

Sorry this was so simplistic.

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Hi M. S,

Depression is a term that we use very casually these days.

I am a clinical social worker and work with children and their families so I see this a lot.

Clinical depression can be debilitating. A person has trouble eating, sleeping, and just functioning in general. Their relationships suffer and merely living becomes painful and difficult. Many times a bout of depression can follow a significant loss - a death, divorce, job loss, etc. After a significant period of grieving the person cannot seem to feel better.

The treatment for depression varies from person to person. For some people talk therapy is very helpful. For others medication helps. Additionally, exercise and good nutrition can help. The love and caring from family and friends is invaluable.

Our brains (and hearts) are fascinating organs which are affected by many external and internal factors. Living with a person suffering from depression is quite difficult also.

We live in an increasingly complex society which places great strains on most of us. Many of us are separated from a sense of community which can provide support and protection from depression. For example, your church probably provides connection and community for you and the other members. Some people don't have that.

Know that depression is a common affliction, particularly with women (that is a whole separate subject). Be glad that you don't suffer from this. Hormones can certainly be a culprit.

Thanks for letting me write about this subject. I tried to be brief and non-clinical. You're right about depression being extreme self absorption. But not any more so than cancer or another disease. Many people are helped by focusing on others - volunteer work, etc. However when someone is feeling really overwhelmed this is not possible.

Hope this helps!


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I have struggled with clinical depression and generalized anxiety disorder for about 15 years now (since I was 11). Basically, your brain naturally produces endorphins (also called the "feel-good" chemical). Endorphins are responsible for the feeling of happiness, but also a lot of other things. Here is some info for you to read and the link to where I got it from so you can read the rest of the article yourself:
"...when feelings of intense sadness -- including feeling helpless, hopeless, and worthless -- last for days to weeks and keep you from functioning normally, your depression may be something more than sadness. It may very well be clinical depression -- a treatable medical condition."
"...depression occurs when you have at least five of the following nine symptoms at the same time:

* a depressed mood during most of the day, particularly in the morning
* fatigue or loss of energy almost every day
* feelings of worthlessness or guilt almost every day
* impaired concentration, indecisiveness
* insomnia or hypersomnia (excessive sleeping) almost every day
* markedly diminished interest or pleasure in almost all activities nearly every day
* recurring thoughts of death or suicide (not just fearing death)
* a sense of restlessness -- known as psychomotor agitation -- or being slowed down -- retardation
* significant weight loss or gain (a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month)"
"Here are common symptoms people with depression experience:

* difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
* fatigue and decreased energy
* feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness
* feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
* insomnia, early morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
* irritability, restlessness
* loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
* no pleasure left in life any more
* overeating or appetite loss
* persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
* persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" feelings
* thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts"
"There are a number of different types of depression including:

* major depression
* chronic depression (dysthymia)
* bipolar depression
* seasonal depression (SAD or seasonal affective disorder)
* psychotic depression
* postpartum depression"
"Because certain brain chemicals or neurotransmitters, specifically serotonin and norepinephrine, influence both mood and pain, it's not uncommon for depressed individuals to have physical symptoms. These symptoms may include joint pain, back pain, gastrointestinal problems, sleep disturbances, and appetite changes. The symptoms may also be accompanied by slowed speech and physical retardation. Many patients go from doctor to doctor seeking treatment for their physical symptoms when, in fact, they are clinically depressed."

If you want more information, here is a great place to start:

I understand that people who haven't experienced it tend to believe a depressed person can just "snap out of it", but it's a whole lot more complicated than that! I commend you for wanting to educate yourself on the issue, because I think people need to stop thinking of it as just being selfish or lazy and start thinking of it as a true disease.

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There was a time when I shared your point of view. I can remember telling a girlfrind that she needed the bible not meds. It took turning 30 and spending some time in reflection to open up and explore other options. I was suicidal in my teens. My brothers were diagnosed with ADD and my mother is hyperactive. I could never complete tasks would put off paying bills until the day of! I was always tired and blamed it on being anemic. I finally shared with a gynocologist that I had no energy and had been through many losses in my life. He explained that tragedy alters the chemicals in your brain. Anti-depressants fix the low levels of this natural chemical. Within 2 days my life was dramatically different. I compare it to looking out a car window. Prior to anti-depressents I always felt like I was behind the glass and watching the rest of the world. I am no longer trapped behind the glass and get to enjoy every day that God blesses me with. I am a better mother, wife and Christian because of it. My 60 year old parents are amazed and are excited for me! They even mentioned that they should have taken me to a doctor in my teens when the depression started. I still feel that people jump on the depression bandwagon. LOL They need to jump off and face their own selfish desires. Scripture makes it clear that there is no excuse for that! Hope this helps. Have a blessed day.

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You've gotten some very excellent answers here. And I agree you are VERY lucky to have not suffered from it.

I've been dealing with the chemical imbalance that causes depression since the age of 11.

When puberty started the part of my brain that receives the chemicals that make you feel good started to malfunction. This lead to two suicide attempts because I just could. not. feel. good. I felt either overwhelmed by despair or totally numb.

Trust me, anyone who is severely depressed doesn't WANT to be depressed. They don't want to feel like there is no meaning to life and the world would be better off without them. They are not walking around feeling sorry for themselves. Most of the time they'll pull inward and not talk to anyone or want to be around people. It's not about attention.

I have yet to meet anyone with depression severe enough to keep you from getting out of bed who enjoyed it. Feeling like just getting up and dressed it too much isn't a pleasant way to live.

And consider the women at your church who are older and maybe widowed. Perhaps they've lost people they love and their children live far away. They feel abandoned and old and forgotten. Wouldn't that make you a little sad? Wouldn't that make you cry? Wouldn't you be willing to take a pill and feel better?

Thank you for wanting to understand. I had several people tell me when I was younger "You think life is bad now? You don't know anything. Wait until you're an adult and have ADULT problems to deal with! You just need to stop it."

Which is really not a supportive attitude.

Give them hugs and remember they're just people like the rest of us. :)

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Morning!! I have to admit right off that when I read your post, I felt like you were already being judgmental. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized this was not the case. You simply do not understand depression and what it can do to a person. I have never been diagnosed with depression, but I have been on anti-depressents before. My M. also seems to think I suffered a serious depression in my early 20s. Let me explain a little....

My first marriage was to a man I had known since junior high. We had our daughter 3 weeks BEFORE our first anniversary. Six months after she was born, he cheated on me the first time. He wouldn't keep a job for longer than two weeks. We were on welfare for the kids' sakes. (I also have a son, who was 20 mths old when our daughter was born.) I spent 5 and a half years with this man, before he walked out of my life for the last time. He left many times prior to that, but always eventually came back. When I reconnected with him, prior to our marriage, I had great self-esteem, my confidence was high. By the time he left, I was a shell of that woman. He had completely cut me off from everyone. My friends and family hated watching what he was doing to me, choosing to leave rather than continue watching. One of my sisters was the ONLY person still actively involved in my life when he left. Because of all the emotional trauma he put me through, I spent most of the years we were together sleeping, eating, just plain lazy. I never had the energy to go anywhere!! I barely had the energy to take care of my kids. Because of this, my M. swears I was depressed.

In 2003, I met my current husband. A couple weeks after we met, he joined the National Guard. In June of 2004 we married, approximately 3 weeks after he graduated 18 wks of basic training. (Wedding planning is what kept me sane during those long weeks!!!) Two months after our wedding, I put my new hubby on a bus headed for Fort Hood, Texas. He spent 4 months in intense training. In January 2005 he boarded a plane for Iraq. I had no experience dealing with being a military wife, much less dealing with deployments. Luckly, his active duty status entitled me to medical coverage, which I took advantage of. My doctor was a general practitioner, but made it VERY clear to me that he was responsible for looking out for my OVERALL health!!! When my hubby had been in Iraq for about 2 months, my doc found out about my insomnia. It didn't really bother me, I chalked it up to just being a night owl. He immediately put me on Lexapro (an anti-depressent) and Sonota (a sleeping pill). He monitored me during the whole deployment. By the time my hubby came home, 2 wks before Christmas 2005, I was completely off both medications!!!! I haven't needed either since then.

I know this has been a long read, but I just wanted you to know that sometimes help is needed to get through some of the things life throws at you. (BTW, I'm STILL 8 years later, trying to get my self-esteem & confidence back up.) These women in your church are NOT feeling sorry for themselves. I'm not going to try to explain depression to you, I don't understand it fully myself. My advice to you is just being a good friend. You don't have to understand or agree with something in order to be compassionate. Which is what these women probaby need the most. There are enough people out there telling them to "get over it." They don't need it from someone close to them.

Hope this helps!!!

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The brain is an amazing thing. VERY basically... your brain is both a reciever and a sender. It gives off, and takes in, chemicals and hormones. So, it has senders and receptors. If they are balanced, you feel great. If one or the other doesn't do it's job, or does it too well... you feel depressed. This breakdown can be brought on by circumstances, or you can be pre-disposed by heredity. Medication and/or therapy can trigger the receptors to PAY ATTENTION, or the senders to SEND... if they are being lazy.

Hope this helps. Someone will probably explain it better... :-)

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I have suffered with depression since my teens, and I promise you, I do not go around "feeling sorry for myself." I have chemical imbalances in my brain aggravated by my crazy hormones, and other than medication and occasional periods of counseling, there is not a thing I can do about it. It's not a "spiritual problem" (I am a strong Christian), it's not a problem of just being a negative person. I have periods of time when my brain doesn't "work right" due to the chemical imbalances, and my world seems to be a difficult, dark, often frustrating place to live in. It makes it hard to properly process difficulties I have been through, too. It basically just makes the world a different place for me than it is for you. In all honestly, I'm incredibly jealous of people who have no clue what depression is, of the people who are consistently happy in life and don't understand what it's like to be unable to face the world. God is the One who sustains me, who gets me through the rough days, who has kept me from committing suicide on numerous occasions. But He has also led me to wonderful physicians and counselors who have placed me on medication that has made a tremendous difference. I believe strongly that the medications are a gift from God, and so are good, Christian counselors.

The thing those of us who suffer from depression most need from others is compassion. Not judgment, not pity, not even "trying to understand." We need people to see that we are suffering and come alongside us, and, just as it says in 2 Corinthians 1:4 "...comfort those in any trouble with the comfort [you yourselves] have received from God." Depression is an illness just like any other -- diabetes, arthritis, etc. Except that it manifests itself mentally/emotionally instead of physically (although there are physical "consequences" of depression). So, you wouldn't say to (or think of) a person who had arthritis, "I don't understand this 'arthritis' thing. It seems you're just feeling sorry for yourself and I can't see why." (I know you wouldn't say that out loud to them, of course.) Not being able to see another's pain, whether physical or emotional, doesn't mean it isn't real.

Anyway, can you tell I've had this conversation before? (Many times.) Depression is often so misunderstood by those who are blessed not to suffer from it. But I will mention one thing -- it has definitely brought me closer to my God. He has not only sustained me through my sufferings, but has drawn me closer to Him and given me sweet, sweet consolations that I would not otherwise have received. Even after I've yelled at Him about it!

So, ask God to give you a humble, compassionate heart toward those in your life who suffer from depression. You may be just the person He's wanting to use to shower them with love, mercy and grace!

Grace and peace,
S. A

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I am amazed at how many have written to describe their own experiences with depression. I am sure that your eyes have been opened as a result.
As a nurse, I have seen it often and would like to clarify a few things:
Depression is no more curable by free will than diabetes.
Sometimes it is situational and resolves within 6 months, Sometimes it is biological and never resolves, but is is ALWAYS treatable.
Treatment is both counseling and medications. All medications are not equal. While lexapro works for one person, cymbalta works for another. If side effects are undesirable, dosage or drug can be changed. Communicate this to your doctor.
The depressed person only needs to know that this will not last. Before 6 months from the start of treatment, they will feel better.

The hard part is to be there with them focusing on small victories each day until they can accomplish things for themselves. Criticism is magnified 100 times, so avoid it. Statements of caring ("I am glad to see you") are also remembered, but not magnified, so increase them.
It can be a fatal disease. Men more often than women successfully commit suicide. The danger point is when the person starts to feel better.
If you love a depressed person, get them to treatment, they may not love themselves enough to seek it out and get there themselves. Or they may not have enough energy to do so.

K. C

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O my...it is a bit hard to understand if you have never experienced it. I used to feel I was the only person not on some anxiety/depression meds- I am just normally a happy go lucky person. And then at the end of one December I got depressed. First time ever- and honey!- once you get that way, you never want to be that way again. What made it worse was that I would tell people "I'm depressed." and no one listened to me. I knew I was down, I knew that it wasn't normal, but I couldn't do anything about it. The only person that caught on was a friend living in Dallas that just happened to call me and could tell I was depressed ( She suffers from raging hormones and depression at times also). She was the ONLY one that kept calling me, checking on me, and it was such a relief to know someone was concerned. I KNEW I had a problem- I was helpless to fix it. And - yes- there were days where I would put the kids on the bus and go back to bed until lunch time. Mid way thru January, my son had his birthday and my youngest daughter managed to screw up the one big plan he had- he cried, I yelled and cried -and I cried for the rest of the day. At everything, non stop. The next morning I woke up and it was like a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders and all was good again. I talked to my doctor about it the next month when I went in for my yearly and he said that it happens more as you go through perimenopause (for those of us that aren't predisposed to it) and your hormones get wacky. There are other causes- sometimes it is familial or just personality-whatever. The trick for me is to EXERCISE REGULARLY, eat well and get outside. It is definitely a seasonal thing for me- Between Thanksgiving and the end of January I have 4 family birthdays, turkey day when we usually travel, Christmas, New Years- no time for myself- and if I get out of my routine I can feel myself being pulled down. And it is like being at the bottom of a well- dark and you can't get yourself out.
So - it is REAL. I'm sure there are some people that are over medicated or using depression as an excuse- but I imagine that plenty of the people you know NEED their meds and NEED compassion, not judgement. Hope this helps you have some insight.

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I commend you in your search to understand. My H does not understand my depression and he doesn't really try to. Makes it very hard for me. I won't go into all the details of the different KINDS of depression, but will tell you mine is hereditary. My dad and mother have depression of one form or another and it came from their parents.

I noticed mine in middle school, but depression was not seen as a treatable disease then, it was a mental issue and sufferers were shunned.

I sought help in my mid 20's. I would find myself in a 'hole' that I couldn't climb out of. I would try to be social, but severe shyness and depression hindered every move I made. I saw others as judging me (as I am a type A personality and perfectionist) and didn't feel I was doing things as good as I could... so I just hid.

Depression does something to a chemical in the brain that tells the sufferer that they are not good enough (in my case) and makes me feel terrible and not caring of other people. It just 'happens'. I can tell when my meds are not working or I forget them... I get VERY self centered and uncaring of how my words can hurt others. My dad was/is the same way and has never been treated.

There are many different kinds of depression and I'm sure others on this list will fill you in.

Again I very much appreciate hearing that you want to find out more and don't want to judge. This is a HORRIBLE disease that is very hard to treat in some. I was treated well until I hit my 40's and then the meds went haywire and now I'm trying to find ones that work again. I have 2 children under 5 and it's hard to be this way with them, but I know I have to do something because I will NOT have them endure my 'bad' moods. I've had my days recently where I have not wanted to get out of bed... but do so for them and just push through it... but not everyone can do that or recognize that that is what they need to do. Everyone reacts differently to depression and depression can hit in very many ways.....

Take care,

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Usually when something bad happens, death, job loss, health, you get kinda down. Sometimes your down in the dumps for a long time a month or so then you find that you cant get out of it you just cant shake the depression. Thats when you need to seek treatment usually pills. Why do you need pills because your chemicals in your brain have changed and are depressed and need other pill/chemicals to fix them back. I got a touch of the post pardom depression after the baby it was a long list of moving,marriage,death in the family,more moves,switching doctors, job loss, and new baby. All this happened in one year. It was jut too much to handle for me. one or two of those things would have been ok for me to shake it but it was one thing after another and I just got really sad and lost. I would say it was a pitty party gone overboard. I took some pills for about six weeks and got back on track. Hope this helps you understand what depression is.

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Try to read information about it written by a credible physician maybe at the library or just go on line and do a search (watch out for websites trying to "sell" anything, try to find a reliable source).

Depression is linked to a chemical imbalance, either seratonin and/or dopamines which are linked to depression and anxiety.

Sometimes people experience depressions temporarily as a "one time" thing resulting from an life changing trauma like divorce, death, etc.
Some people experience re-occuring episodes and are likely to struggle with the problem through their life.

If they say they were treated, they probably received antidepressants and/or maybe outpatient therapy such as seeing a pyschiatrist. Not likely hospitalized unless they had a very severe case.

You will receive ALOT of responses on this as the problem is unfortunately very common. I think it's great you are looking to understand the problem of your friends.

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Most of the time it is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. The feelings you get are of total dispair, wanting to curl up in a ball and not face the day, feelings of being overwhelmed by just about anything. Almost like a black cloud is over anything you touch and always following you.

It's quite common in my family, unfortunately. Many women feel the "baby blues" a few days after their children are born but that is usually caused by the quick drop in hormones from pregnancy, lack of sleep and trying to learn about and understand the needs of a new human being. This is usually different than depression but can be worsened if you have a history of depression to begin with.

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Well I know that I suffered from depression. And you are correct that it does appear the a depressed person is self centered. But actually is quite the opposite. They want to be with people and help others but they just cannot bring themselves to do it. Sometimes its because the lack of confidence that comes with depression. So you just do not even try. I know that I just felt as though nothing I did was right or good enough. I was always sad and felt as though I should just disappear. But I soon was on medication and taking with my family and I was straightened out. Some do think it is a chemical inbalance. Sometimes a hormonal inbalance. And some say it is hereditary. My M. and dad both had it. But try to understand that these people are fighting such a battle within themselves that there is no energy left for daily items. Much less try and do things for other people. A lot of positive reinforcement helps. I know you may feel like the gerbil in the wheel but keep supporting them and listening. You do not know what that means to them and it is helping.

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Wow, lots of people did a good job explaining. Especially Tina, Rebecca and Jackie. There is an imbalance in the brain, or with hormones that makes you KNOW something is not right.

Have patience and empathy for someone with depression. It is more than "just feeling down." It is a sadness than you can't shake without help.

A good friend of mine moved from TX to Alaska a few years ago when he husband was promoted. After 2 years, she was extremely depressed. The lack of sunshine for much of the year, the stress of the move and the isolation of Alaska got her in a real bad place. Her husband ended up quitting that job and they moved back. She was on an anti-depressant for a couple months to get things back in order.

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http://www.depression.com/ explains that depression is a medical condition that a person cannot just "snap out of". It is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain.

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my husband used to tell me that if you have never been depressed or worried about anything, it means that either you have been very lucky not to have anything you need to worry about, or you have an uncaring nature.

depression, unless it is clinical is always triggered by a stressful life event, it is our bodies way of shutting down, and shutting out, a coping mechanism, i am no phsycologist, but that is my take on it.
i did not suffer with depression of any kind until i had 3 of my family die within a couple of years, i moved country, gave up my well paying job to become an isolated sahm and had major problems with my marriage, before that i thought you could just "snap out of it", now i know you cant

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I felt the same as you until it happen to me. I went it to depression because of something tragic in my life. My mind shut down because of the hurt and pain. I could not sleep or eat. I don't remember my childrens lives for 4 months. The oldest daughter took care of everyone. If I could just make it one minute after midnight - I was thankful I made it another day. Depression made my mind sick. People literally can get sick in their mind. It changes their thinking and they just can't function in everyday life. It is like they become chemically imbalance in their mind. Thank God, He pulled me through it. Never take this sickness lightly or you could one day experience the same. Mine was from divorce. Sit down and talk and really listen to these women. It is not something we plan to get attention. I was caught unaware of what really was going on in me. I love my kids (who are grown now so much), I would have never wanted to miss any part of their lives.

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Depression is a medical condition. It can be very frustrating for those who watch someone go through it because it does seem very self-centered, from the outside looking in. However, it is a chemical inbalance that the one who suffers from it can not control. Someone who has been diagnosed with depression isn't just "down" or thinking of themselves. They feel like they are in a cloud that they just can't get out of. Their bodies ache, their strength is gone, everyday tasks that seem simple to us are agony to them. It has something to do with the brain and when things happen in someone's life that they can't control, sometimes many things at once, it is just too much for the body, mind, and heart to handle. It isn't always a chronic condition, it may only last for a little while. People who have been diagnosed with depression need patience, understanding, and support from their friends and family. My dad went through a period for about 3 years after losing his job and after a lot of prayer, time, and some medication, he's doing great now. Some people use it as an excuse to feel sorry for themselves but we can never really know what someone is going through on the inside so just loving and supporting them is the best thing.

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Hi, I am glad you are interested on understanding this disorder. I actually thank God (in a way) for this experience because I can now understand people who go through this. Every depression is different. Also, there are different causes. In my case, I have a Chemical Imbalance which means that my brain does not produce enough Serotonin (a chemical that helps the brain to send positive happy signs). My brain tends to run out of Serotonin under a lot of stress. It can also be caused by over doing/working the body... a lot of exercise, lack of rest, lack of food or good nutrition, etc. I can feel immediately when my Serotonin is low because I start feeling sad, worry, can't stop crying, and/or loss of appetite which makes it worse. I found out that it runs in my family and it is something that I can't avoid. This disorder is actually very common among people all over the world but especially in the US, and it is nothing to be ashame of. It is like being diabetic - we just have to accept it and take the medication which in some cases would be for the rest of our lives.
Thank God for medication! I can't imagine living like that without it.

There is a lot of information online. You can check different cases as well. I can tell you that this disorder is something serious but when treated correctly we can actually function 100% normal.

Let me know if you still have any other questions. i'll be happy to share more info. about it.


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Now that you know what depression is I hope you go to your friends and let them know if they need a shoulder, you are there for them. Good job investigating something you do not understand. You need to say a "thank-you" for not knowing anything about this sickness.

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glad you aren't depressed!!! depression is a very serious illness that people go through at some point in their life. some people are unable to pull themselves out of "a funk" they know it's silly to feel this way but just can't seem to pull themselves out of it. think of all the bad things that are going on in the world today....sometimes things get you "down" and no matter what happy thought you have, you can't help but think of all the sad things. the medication helps curb those bad feelings so you can focus on other things.

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I personally have suffered from depression since I was a mere 15 years old. When I was a teenager I dismissed it as the teenager hormones, adjustments, etc. By the time I was 20 I was seen by a few medical doctors that diagnosed me with "clinical depression" (different from 'situtional depression'). Clinical depression is caused by an imbalance in the brain's chemicals (often a low level of serotonin). This is a medical condition just as diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, and can be treated with medication. I have a VAST amount of blessings in my life, which makes it nearly impossible to believe I could often have suicidal tendencies and/or thoughts, feelings of hopelessness, and just plain ol' depression. Because my depression is a medical condition, I have been treated as such and taken medication for the past 20 years -- which I believe has greatly sustained me, even though I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, terrific family/friend support group, and two FABULOUS boys. All of these influences give me joy and inspiration to enjoy every day of my life -- but I have a medical condition that has to be addressed as well. Situational depression is caused by an event that can be devastating to a person, and is a process that must be dealt with and endured until it passes (e.g., death, divorce, job loss, etc.). Nearly 100% of individuals will go through this at one point or another in their lifetime. Medication is sometimes helpful to get them through the worst of it, and then can be stopped. Counseling and/or therapy is another wonderful tool to be used with clinical or situational depression. I do hope this explanation has helped explain symptoms, causes, and treatments for your depression questions. Please feel free to contact me if you want/need to discuss this further.

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I too am trying to get a grip on it. This is not an official answer but I am beginning to understand that like caffeine or an adrenaline rush can change the chemistry of our brain for a time so does depression. It can be brought on by a trigger a health reason or many other things. Encourage your friends to eat well, walk or exercise but sometimes it is not enough even with God's help.

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It can be a very frustrating disease to be around.. My sister suffers from depression, always has, but unfortunately refuses to take medication.. I am not sure exactly what is wrong in the brain that causes it.. but it is some sort of chemical in-balance. My sister is 41 years old and as far as I can remember has never been happy.. It is very sad.. She has made very drastic decissions in her life thinking it will make things better. THe ONE thing that finally seemed to work for her was she started doing yoga, very intensely and she was a new woman, unfortunately she stepped into it all so fast she hurt her back, needed surgery and is now unable to yoga for at least another year. Taking medication can really help, but it has to be the right medication.. I know this isn't the explanation you were looking for, my best advice is when you are around them, don't let them bring you down, be dramatically positive.. It is what I have to do around my sister, I think it drives her insane, but I can't let her bring me down. It is a disease, a very hard one to understand if you don't have it...

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Dear M. S--PLEASE don't judge these poor women. Depression is a REAL disease--it is a chemical imbalance in the brain, and it can be emotionally crippling. Staying in bed all day is not at all uncommon with depression. The disease causes a person to have feelings of powerlessness.

I don't know why so many women in your church are suffering from depression, but I would certainly pity them AND PRAY FOR THEM. It is a horrible thing to deal with, and many of the medications that are given are not all that effective.

One more comment--having depression does not mean that these women are not committed Christians or that they are weak in any way. I have several friends who suffer from depression, and believe me, they would certainly change if they could.

Hope this helps.


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Wow. Thank you for posting this!! All the responses have given me lots of food for thought.
I seem to suffer with "mild" depression and have for years. My sisters don't understand-you have a nice home with a good husband, good kids, etc., etc.
I tried medication for one year but didn't like the other side effects (sexually) which made me feel more cut off from my spouse so stopped. I talk with him constantly and amazingly, he still loves me despite my feelings.
One thing I tell my children-when people are hard to be around it just means they don't get enough hugs!!
So depression is a physical and mental thing. When one of those ladies seems to be really nagging about something-just give them a hug!!
If any of you other people who posted know of a place to "chat" with other sufferers, I would love to have a link to it. When I google depression, it just takes me to clinical info.

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Hi M. S,
I am a physician assistant and from my training and experience I have learned that Depression is the result of a neuro-chemical imbalance. In our brains we produce seratonin, a neurochemical that regulates our moods. For some reason, and I would guess that it is somewhat environmental and/or cultural, many people deplete their seratonin levels. As a result, they become depressed, unmotivated and as you have described, unable to get out of bed. In some cases, this depression can lead people to become so despondent that the attempt suicide. Replacing seratonin with medications like Prozac often helps a person restore their levels.

One thing to note is that researchers are noting a link between depression and a sense of hopelessness. It seems that when we feel boxed in without any perceived way of changing our circumstances, we become depressed. Evidently these feelings drain our seretonin levels. Studies have shown that when we feel more positive, this increases seretonin levels. Other factors seem to be having a support system, having options and not seeing the situation as hopeless.

It's important to note that psychotherapy should be used in conjunction with medication. Finding out what a person feels stuck about and trying to resolve those situations often relieves the need, or at least shortens it, for medication.

I hope this helps.

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You're very lucky to not have suffered from depression. Indeed it sounds lucky to not even know what depression is. It sounds uncharitable to think that someone's else pain is a selfish thing and they only feel sorry for themselves. Medical depression is a chemical imbalance sometimes requiring drugs for treatment. On a good note, at least you are curious as to the cause and seem concerned as to how you can help. I think you are already on the right track by just listening. You might also recommend St. John's Wort. It is natural and helps in treating mild depression.

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Depression is a very self-centered disease because no one else matters and nothing else matters. There is nothing to get out of bed for - a person loses interest in everything- and it's important they seek medical advice. Left unchecked depression can lead to suicide - as there is nothing to live for, why not? The medical community has found that there is a hereditary connection and also that it is an imbalance in the the production of serontin (sp?) in the brain - which can be helped with medication. The hardest part is convincing those who are depressed to seek help - they feel it is a personal failure to have to do so - that it is something they should be able to control. It is not.

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I have a daughter who has suffered from depression for about 15 years. Hers is a bio-chemical depression-the chemicals in her body and brain do not do what they need to do. Here is how it was explained to me: normally a person will have ups and downs-their emotions are like hills and valleys. A person who suffers from depression has more valleys than hills, and they are not as able to control those valleys. When you are ill with an infection the doctor can prescribe a medication to help you recover-the dose is pretty much standard based on your weight. When you are prescribed meds for depression the dose is not always as easy to determine and there is a lot of trial and error because people have different reactions and different symptoms. Just like different women have different menopause symptoms and different degrees of symptoms, depression can affect different people in different ways and degrees. Some people have a hard time functioning and so they end up in bed, sleeping excessively and shutting down. My daughter has described it as watching a small back & white tv screen when you know there is a giant color screen available. She has also told me that when you are hungry and don't know what you are hungry for-she feels that way daily-only she feels like something of "off" and she can't quite figure out what it is. I'm not sure I have given you any answers or information. I do know that people who suffer from depression are usually truly suffering.

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People with depression have a lack of a chemical in their brains called dopamine or seratonin. A medicine like prozac makes the brain able to use the seratonin properly. It is a physio-chemical medical condition. Women are more prone to it, but it is not known why this is. When a person is depressed, thier brain gets stuck in a cycle of negative thoughts it can not stop on its own. The medicine helps to stop the bad thoughts and then the person can think about the things they need to do. Excercise can also help because it makes the brain produce more of these chemicals naturally, but if you are already in a cycle of depression, it can be difficult to start an excercise regime.

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My mother always said "Depression is anger that you don't give yourself the right to feel or act out".

Yeah, we all do it--You talk yourself out of feeling angry, "let it go", be the bigger person, "such is life", "bad things happen to good people"... You reason with yourself that whatever happened is not such a big deal... Or you grow to realize, after a while, no one wants to hear about anymore or talking about it doesn't change anything, so you bottle it up. But for some people, the disappointment and sadness simmer; it grows bitter. Then its depression. (This explanation, of course, does not relate to actual medically defined "clinical depression" which I do believe some people are genetically predisposed to develop. I mean no offense to anyone who has depression run in their family or has family members who are suicidal or self-destructive/self-abusive, etc.)

I have friends who's lives have been overtaken with what I call 'event caused depression'. I've come to realize that, regardless of the events that happened (and which they ascribe to be the root of their pessimism), they have a certain outlook or recollection that they can't shake, they can't forget it. Its not an intentional self pity-party. Its more that the recollection has become part of their identity and how they define "who am I". And these friends always seem to have more chaotic, high & low lifestyles: Things are ubber-great then the next day, everything sucks. A lot of times I see depression manifested in their self-destructive behavior, be it over-indulges with alcohol, food, shopping, etc; sometimes it manifests as poor judgement and poor decision making; sometimes you see it in them being attracted to lovers or accumulating friends who are abusive, angry, or miserable themselves. Sometimes its apparent in how they plan (or should I say, refuse to plan) for their future and finances.

I think it is equally important to remember that we all get depressed. Empathy is important. We all have bad days, and sometimes the bad days stretch on for a while. I also remind myself that I am truly blessed to have never had to experience extremely tragic events. If I did, I'm not sure how long it would take me to recover my typical 'get up and go' outlook.

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It sounds like you've already judged them. Depression is mentally as well as physically painful. Don't be surprised that these women avoid you. I would.

Depression is chemical imbalances in the brain. Medications rarely cure the problem. Here's a link but I strongly disagree with taking medications; the chemical imbalance can be treated naturally with 5HTP, which has no side effects because it is produced by the body.


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Depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. It isn't contagious and I don't know if it's a heridity thing or not. People who have it need your understanding. They don't enjoy having it. I effects people in different ways. Don't think your friends are looking for attention or sympathy because they can't help it. Most do take meds and some have to be hospitalized sometimes. It's hard to understand and hard to explain, so just be a friend. Sometimes it's hard not to be impatient. Just remember, they're not in control.

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I come from a long line of women with let's say "chemical aberrations." I won't bother saying "chemical imbalaces," because who's to say what's normal these days, you know? Watching my grandmother is a kick, she's like the earliest ADD i've noticed. I have ADD too, which some people argue isn't even real, and sometimes depression is an extension of that for me. Mostly because i was an adult before i was even diagnosed. I just spent my life up to that point trying to figure out what was up with my different/inability to function...So yeah, it's definitely chemical - but also situational. Your brain chemstry changes as part of a responsive system that is affected by situations as well. Think post traumatic stress disorders, etc. It's a living system that changes over time. Like neural network development,etc.

My husband used to comment that he didn't know what in the world i had to be upset about. See the thing is, I am carrying an entire lifetime with me. Some of it is seriously painful. Some of it was by the choices i made or my actions, some i had no control over. Some things i have moved past at a faster rate than others. But ultimately it makes me who I am. Chemical oddities and all! But honestly, most of it is MY past and not really needed to be shared with others.

I guess I am mentioning that because if you are a church going woman, what's the point of choosing (and yes, it's a choice) to judge them? Why bother? Just because they have not chosen to divulge their darkest days on the planet does not mean they haven't had it really, really rough. Maybe just try and approach them with love in your heart and empathy in your actions. Yeah, some people might seem "self-centered" to you, whether of chemical nature or not...It's not your problem. How you choose to respond is the only thing you should really be worrying about. You can't control them. You can control the love you give them. Just try and remember why you are there to begin with.

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I believe your question has been answered by all these responses. I just wanted to let you know what it looks like from the other side. I have been there. The depression hit me at a time in my life when everything was going great. I had been a single M. of two boys prior to this happening. At the time of my life that depression really took hold, I was happily married to a wonderful man who loved my boys, I was able to be a SAHM, and we were in the process of building a new house. I literally would drag myself from bed every morning to get my childeren off to school and my husband out the door. Then I would crawl back into bed and stay there until my boys came in from school. I would spend the rest of the evening being a M. and wife. All the while I was so miserable and upset with myself because I had "no energy", at least that is what I thought. I had been dealing with this alone for about 3 months before I explained to my Aunt who was in the medical feild. She quickly told me I was dealing with depression and I needed to see a doctor. When the word depression was thrown at me I became even more angry with myself. I was so confused with the fact that my life had changed so much for the better "why on earth was I depressed?" I was upset with myself more than anything because my life was great and I could not understand why at this point my life was so effected by this. I did see a doctor and I was put on Med. for a little while, but one night at church God spoke to me (I am not saying it happens or can happen this way for everyone) and said to put this in His hands and he would help me. Thats what "I" did. I have been able to deal with it way better every since, but I found out about ten years later that my dad's mother had clinical depression so bad they gave her shock treatments. She battled it until she was in her 80s. My main reason for writing was to let you know that your friends are probably feeling very helpless and angry. With this disease it is hard to find the root of it, and for me that was the hardest thing. Not understanding why when my life was so great I was feeling so horrible ALL the time. Hope this gives you a little better understanding. I will pray for you and your friends. Be blessed.

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Good Luck on this one!!

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It's a chemical imbalance in the brain. Go to www.webmd.com and search depression. You will find out more about it.

It affects people differently.

Hope this helps.

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For me I already suffered from adhd. When I was young we didn't have all these break downs you were just considered a problem. My M. was a depressed person so she taught us the down side of how people can be. For the most part I tryed to live a happy go lucky life. For the most part I had to make my own life. Then life caught up with me. My dad passed away then my daughter then divorce. Then lots of bills of trying to get two thru college with a dead beat dad and two still in grade school. I didn't know what an anxiety attack was but heard ladies in church being delivered from it or suffering from it. I had a taste of depression but not till all of these things came into my life. I haven't spent a whole lot of time in bed because it only makes it worse for me. I've only been like that when my M. came to live with me she tends to take over and makes me feel hopeless. What I've mainly suffered from his mild. I do find myself withdrawn, I have add and I don't always stay with a conversation, I like to joke around, I have friends who want to analize me and tell me I'm smart and I act silly because I'm afraid of coming off not smart. No it's not that it just seems people want to get in your business just to be the no it all are you hero. I usually just end up feeling hurt so I find myself being real careful who you let in. Here lately I have anxiety attacks finally had to learn what those are. When I have them its when I'm thinking about where I used to live and its the past now are my kids growing up. Well my M. lived in the house I grew up in till it was condemned in the flood of 2001. I never wanted to get married just to get divorced and start over. So what I'm saying is mine I think is a combination of a mild chemical imbalance with alot of circumstance. There are lots of people who have it so bad. If you can make it your ministry to get these women to call you when they don't want to get out of bed. Talk to them are get them out of the house. Maybe you can get your church to organize a exercise group morn or eve which ever works for these women. Excerice helps gets your body to regulate your body chemicals. Sorry for rambling on its just part of my add.

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