“Sorry, I Can’t Make It”


Throughout our lives, we’ve all been invited out on various occasions. From weddings to birthdays, to a simple gathering with friends. When making the decision to go out, a lot goes into play. We begin asking ourselves questions; Who else is going? How will I get there? When will I go? What will I wear? Do I need to bring something with me? Do I have to go out and buy something? What do I gain? What do I lose? In conclusion, we let our motivations lead us to make these decisions and take actions.

However, a person with depression can have more difficulty with accomplishing these activities. According to a motivational study published in the Journal of Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, lack of motivation is a key characteristic of depression. Therefore, the drive for decision making is inattentive. Consequently, these individuals not only struggle with going out, they may even find their daily schedules to be overwhelming (Smith, 2013). Going to work, to school, or even getting out of bed can become debilitating.

According to the World Health Organization, many individuals who face depression also experience anxiety (“Depression”, 2017). Anxiety can be classified as a mental disorder characterized by a state of unease and discomfort. Anxiety, combined with the lack of motivation, makes it relatively complicated for an individual to overlook any cons of going out. Thus, despite their initial desire to attend, they find it easier not going out. Nonetheless, the decrease in social interaction and increase in isolation may harm their condition more. Constant isolation can encourage depression and facilitates a vicious cycle (Gask, 2011).

Along with social interaction, it is important for individuals to spend time outside. Sunlight itself affects one’s mood. Based on a study done by Mihyang An, increased levels of sunlight relates negatively to anxiety and depression (An, 2016). According to a journal published in the American Geriatrics Society, researchers concluded that limited face to face contact nearly doubles a person’s risk of depression (Bergland, 2015). Psychiatrist and Professor at Oregon Health & Science University, Alan Teo M.D, claims

Research has long supported the idea that strong social bonds strengthen people’s mental health. But this is the first look at the role that the type of communication with loved ones and friends plays in safeguarding people from depression. We found that all forms of socialization aren’t equal. Phone calls and digital communication, with friends or family members, do not have the same power as face-to-face social interactions in helping to stave off depression” (Bergland, 2015).

Just as we cannot tell a rock to roll over, we cannot simply tell a depressed person to be motivated. Depression stems from unique combinations of social, psychological, and biological factors. It’s very essential that depressed individuals, with the lack of motivation, to go out and make the strides in socializing. Furthermore, it is important for loved ones to be patient and understand how overwhelmed a depressed individual maybe when being unable to attend an event.

References:

An, M., Colarelli, S. M., O’Brien, K., & Boyajian, M. E. (2016). Why We Need More Nature at Work: Effects of Natural Elements and Sunlight on Employee Mental Health and Work Attitudes. Plos One, 11(5), e0155614. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0155614

Bergland, C (2015). Face-to-Face Social Contact Reduces Risk of Depression. Retrieved by https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201510/face-face-social-contact-reduces-risk-depression

Gask, L., Aseem, S., Waquas, A., & Waheed, W. (2011). Isolation, feeling ‘stuck’ and loss of control: Understanding persistence of depression in British Pakistani women. Journal Of Affective Disorders, (1-2), 49. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2010.06.023

Smith, B. b. (2013). Depression and motivation. Phenomenology & The Cognitive Sciences, 12(4), 615-635.

World Health Organization Depression (2017, February). Retrieved from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs369/en/

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