Depression Is a Demon
Andrew Solomon is an author, a psychology professor, and one of the world’s leading experts on depression. In his last book The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression, he offers us his view on this disease. For five years he interviewed different people who suffered from depression in order to write his book, in addition to sharing his own personal experience with the disease. He has received the National Book Award and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.
Solomon defines depression as “the crevice of love.” A crevice that’s closing in and which is triggered by some event: a breakup, the loss of a loved one, struggles at work. The crevice of love degrades a person in their innermost being, eclipsing their ability to give and receive affection. Depression manifests your inner solitude. It not only destroys your bonds with others, but also the bond you have with yourself.
“What is happening?
Sadness is turning into hate.
But not against her,
against everything around me.
I’ve become unstable and volatile.
Now I have contempt for all human beings.”
The truth is that it depends on the person, like most things in life. Some people fall into depression due to a very strong trigger, like the death of a child. While others may fall into its grasp due to triggers that seem unimportant at a mere glance.
Regardless of the cause, when we suffer through depression our need to love and be loved in return is much more evident because we’re facing a breakdown of our ability to love. Solomon affirms, “When you’re depressed, you require more love from others. But depression favors actions which destroy that love.”
To Dr. Solomon, the most representative traits of depression are the inability to love and a lack of energy or motivation. For example, not being able to act, a lack of appetite, and diminished enthusiasm.
There are other symptoms that may go undetected, and that in some cases may hint at the existence of the disease. Andrew Solomon cites 10 of them:
- Drinking more than usual. Alcohol consumption is usually one of the most common tactics to fight the pain of depression.
- Obsessing over sex. You try to seduce everyone in order to fight your depression and not feel alone.
- Fighting. You are constantly on the defensive. This is simply a way to fight the feeling of helplessness.
- Not feeling anything. In order to not feel sad, you try to avoid every feeling. As if you were a zombie. In the end, you end up distancing yourself from everyone.
- Not doing well at work. As hard as you try, you can’t seem to maintain a good pace at work.
- Lack of concentration. You’re constantly thinking about something else. You lose your train of thought and forget things.
- Nothing matters. Everyone may try to cheer you up, but to you it doesn’t matter. You pass on their invitations. Everything loses its importance.
- Going out a lot. You attempt to escape from your depression by going to all kinds of events, though you don’t even have a good time.
- Laughing and crying over everything. You have exaggerated reactions to everyday things, both good and bad. You live in a constant emotional instability.
- You are ebullient. You try to do everything at once, because you want to feel invincible. When in fact, you feel the complete opposite.
What can help us fight depression?
- Surrounding yourself with people who care about you.
- Sleeping well.
- Eating healthy and exercising.
- Taking medication prescribed by a doctor.
- Participating in psychotherapy.
- Other alternatives such as homeopathy, hypnosis, literature or music.
Though Dr. Solomon affirms that some advice may be applied to everyone, we must keep in mind that each person is unique. Therefore, we each face depression differently.
It’s helpful to try to see the other side of depression. Analyze it, observe and value what it has to teach us. Solomon says that it helped him become more human and understand how our mood affects everything we experience.
How can we help a loved one who’s suffering through depression?
Depression is the disease of solitude. It makes interacting with others a stressful situation. Don’t leave your loved one alone. They need to feel our presence in one way or another. We can talk to them. Or if they don’t want to talk, we can be by their side. And if they don’t want us to be present, we can tell them we’re in another room close by.
We can praise each step of their progress, however small it may be. Help them lead a healthier life and identify their sources of stress. We can also look up information about depression, its treatment and what you can do to help their recovery. These are some of the things you can do to serve as support.
And remember that although depression can’t be cured with love, feeling loved by others is helpful and can motivate them to get out of that situation.