This constant chatter about depression is destined to make us all depressed. Don’t get me wrong – I am not underplaying human emotion or how catastrophic this state can be. All I am saying is – “Have you considered how the depression memes plaguing social media are affecting your physiological state?”
What is Depression?
According to Medical and Psychological websites – depression, otherwise known as major depressive disorder or clinical depression, is a common and serious mood disorder. Those who suffer from depression experience persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness and lose interest in activities they once enjoyed. Aside from the emotional problems caused by depression, individuals can also present with a physical symptom such as chronic pain or digestive issues. To be diagnosed with depression, symptoms must be present for at least two weeks.
Depression DSM-5 Diagnostic Criteria
The DSM-5 (manual that lists criteria for Mental Health Diagnosis) outlines the following criterion to make a diagnosis of depression. The individual must be experiencing five or more symptoms during the same 2-week period and at least one of the symptoms should be either (1) depressed mood or (2) loss of interest or pleasure.
1. Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day.
2. Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day.
3. Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain, or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day.
4. A slowing down of thought and a reduction of physical movement (observable by others, not merely subjective feelings of restlessness or being slowed down).
5. Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.
6. Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day.
7. Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day.
8. Recurrent thoughts of death, recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide.
To receive a diagnosis of depression, these symptoms must cause the individual clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. The symptoms must also not be a result of substance abuse or another medical condition.
Out With “Mental Health Issues”
While acknowledging and discussing human emotions, feelings and mental states is vitally important. Do we have to label them “Mental Health Issues’?
Instead of talking about mental health issues – however serious they are – I think we need to reframe. We need to talk about states of being. We all experience different moods, and this affects our awareness and how we act in the world. But these states are not necessarily pathological.
We have all experienced different moods. Sometimes we’re up and sometimes we’re down and sometimes we’re in the middle shaking it all around.
In With “Joyful States of Being”
So I propose. Instead of focusing on depression – let us focus on ways to find joy. I am not taking about that superficial “I’m happy, You’re happy – Lets’ pretend the worlds a wonderful place” holiday images that we post on social media. I am urging those who are able to – to make an effort to find the things that make you truly joyful. And once you find that JOY – share it with those who need it. Inspire others to find their JOY.
Unfortunately DSM or medical textbooks do not define JOY. According to the online dictionary Joy is “a feeling of great pleasure and happiness”. But that’s not entirely true.
Although I am not religious – I love Jack Wellman’s description in “What is the Biblical Definition of Joy?”
Joy isn’t like happiness which is based upon happenings or whether things are going well or not. No, joy remains even amidst the suffering. Joy is not happiness. Joy is an emotion that’s acquired by the anticipation, acquisition or even the expectation of something great or wonderful. It could be described as exhilaration, delight, sheer gladness….
So I urge you…Find your JOY, and share it in Joyful memes!
Don’t ‘cut and paste’ or ‘copy and share’ – Create Your Own.
Dr Nitasha Buldeo is an Integrated Medical Practitioner, Entrepreneur, Scientist and Yogi. She created I-Yoga & Organic Apoteke and is Director of the Centre for Exceptional Human Performance. She researches human potential and delivers programs that encourage you to live exceptionally. Nitasha believes that every one of us is striving to be the best we can. Her passion is bringing you experiences that inspire you. Her intention is for you to unlock your genius.