I have recently finished a book called “The Pact” by Jodi Picoult that really made me think (it was very good and I would definitely recommend it!!). There was a girl who was pregnant but didn’t feel she could tell anybody, not the father nor her parents, which she though left her with only one choice, to end her life (there was more to the story line but I won’t ruin it just in case anybody wants to read it).
The reason it made me think was because nobody realised that this girl was suicidal, her mother even mentions in the book “No, my daughter was not suicidal.” The fact that her own mother couldn’t see that she was so depressed that she wanted it all to end showed that she had covered her feelings up so well and built up a wall that her own mother couldn’t see through. It’s a scary thought that somebody you think you know so well could be having such dark thoughts inside their head. I guess that is essentially what depression is, a voice inside your head that only you can hear, making it easy to pretend that everything is fine.
The actual definition of depression is a prolonged feeling of sadness or dejection, not just feeling blue for a few days; it is very different from usual spells of feeling down and can be a serious risk to a persons health when long-lasting and of a severe intensity. As seen in “The Pact”, depression can drive a number of people to attempt suicide, up to 15% of those clinically depressed can die from suicide which is an alarming number. The good thing is that the other 85% don’t die, meaning that someone who cares about them helped and they got treated. But how did they know that they were depressed?
Another thing the mother mentions in the book is that her child “wasn’t sad” and “she wasn’t crying” so therefore, she couldn’t possibly be depressed and having suicidal thoughts. However, to be depressed, you don’t just have to cry a lot, there are a number of other psychological, physical and social symptoms as well. For example, many studies have shown having difficulty making decisions or feeling anxious and worried may be linked depression. Also, unexplained aches and pains and moving or speaking more slowly than normal is another symptom to watch out for. Somebody suffering from depression may avoid contact with friends and be neglecting hobbies or interests.
So there are a number of other symptoms of depression, not just sadness or feeling tearful (those these are both key symptoms) that loved ones can watch out for.
In “The Pact” the mother was just in a state of denial that her daughter was depressed but if you are seriously worried that somebody you know may be suffering from depression, it is important you talk to them and try to help them.
There are a number of places you can go to for help including:
Both of these websites offer guidance to sufferers but also parents and carers. They also have phone lines where you can talk to someone directly about any worries.