I’ll admit, it’s pretty fascinating that we live in a world where you can connect with people across the world and join virtual communities of people who care about the same things you do. But that also comes with negative consequences. On the popular blogging site, Tumblr, there are very few rules as to what goes. Blogs are focused on everything from food to fashion, art and music, and mental disorders. While some accounts create a community of support for those suffering from illnesses like depression or self harm- the majority serve as a base full of triggering content.
Over lunch a few months ago my friend was telling me about her little sister, who is in eighth grade. She explained how she is watching her sister grow up. She spends more time on her appearance- she just learned how to use mascara and got eye shadow for Christmas. She has a crush on the lead singer of a boy band. But along with make up and boy bands, my friend mentioned how she’s starting to see her sister try to deal with new and more complex emotions.
When I was walking through a lecture hall on my way to class, I heard a student tell their friend “I’m addicted to that TV show, I can’t stop watching it;” I didn’t think much of it until later that day I overheard another student say, “I think she’s just addicted to the attention.” It was then that I noticed a trend. Addiction- it’s a word that’s thrown around rather frequently, but when it’s used seriously no one really wants to talk about it. When dealing with substance abuse, addiction can be a crippling and life shattering condition. It’s a tremendously complicated and unforgiving sickness. But what happens when it’s combined with an equally complicated illness? Comorbidity between addiction and depression is very common and the two illnesses thrive off one another, creating a continuous cycle.
If you turn on the radio it’s likely you’ll hear a few love songs at the top of the charts and if you are searching for a movie to watch there’s a whole section of romantic comedies to choose from. There’s even a holiday dedicated to love! We live in a society where dating sites are plentiful and people enjoy talking about love- but one topic you don’t hear people talking about often is how mental illness can change the dynamics of a relationship. Depression in particular can cause a happy relationship to turn upside down- complicating things for both members involved.
From a young age, boys are told to “man up” whenever they get upset or express pain but society’s expectation for males to mask their emotions may have more harmful effects on their mental health. Dividing the expression of feelings between genders could be a major factor to blame for why depression in men goes unacknowledged until it is often too late.
When was the last time you used social media? When you woke up this morning? Waiting in line at the coffee shop? Right now? The point is social media is a big part of our day-to-day routine. Updates on events, relationships and even meals you’ve eaten- in today’s society, it’s not uncommon to share what you’re up to. But this constant sharing (and sometimes over sharing) has been linked to an increase in the symptoms of depression and overall lower mood, making us reconsider our scrolling habits.
A football player being tackled, a solider impacted by an explosive device, a person in a car accident, or even a child falling from playground equipment- as humans our brains are susceptible to injury- particularly concussions. But because brain injuries are complicated and you don’t normally see outward signs of a concussion, like bleeding or a bruise, they often go untreated- but that’s a risky mistake. In recent studies a link has been drawn between concussions and depression- leaving the person suffering long after the initial trauma occurred.
Something that people with depression are tired of hearing is “just get over it” or “cheer up”. We’ve learned that depression is not as simple as just feeling sad and that it doesn’t come with a quick fix. However, what if anti-depressants weren’t the only treatment? What if there were other, more natural, day-to-day fixes that could help play a role in the reduction and prevention in depression? Recent studies have shown that changes in daily activity, diet, and sleep can greatly impact the outcome of those suffering from depression.
Subjective factors, on the other hand, are shaped by the point of view of the individual; an example of a subjective factor would be perceived financial strain, or how that individual views his or her financial struggles (or lack thereof). These indicators are not used as often in studies or analyses, so we know less about how a specific person’s point of view can affect his or her risk of mental health issues.
If someone were asked to picture an elderly person, it would be likely they would picture someone who is wise, with years of experience under their belt- possibly a doting grandparent, but rarely would the image of a depressed individual come to mind. Because of this stereotype, depression among seniors tends to go unrecognized and is brushed off as a result of aging. However, senior citizens tend to be one of the most at risk demographics for depression.