There was a time when depression was not taken seriously. As a result, one either suffered in silence or spoke in hushed tones about the mental disorder.But, by opening up about her low-grade depression, the former first lady of the United States of America, Michelle Obama, has conveyed an important message to all Americans. Her recent podcast has not only spread awareness about the mental disorder, but also encouraged people to reach out for help.
With America being in a state of turmoil due to the covid-19 pandemic, and political and social strife unsettling people’s lives, mental health can no longer be talked about in a depreciatory manner. It is time that we acknowledged that mental disorders arereal and serious conditions that need proper medical attention.
Current environment a factor
Michelle Obama, probably one of the more popular first ladies in recent times – and a global celebrity with a huge fan following across the world – has been vociferous about mental health and its impact on people since her first innings at the White House.Her decision to speak up about her struggle with the same is encouraging for many Americans who are averse to speaking about mental health issues because of the associated stigma.
Speaking about her condition in part two of the Michelle Obama Podcast,the former first lady indicated that along with the lockdown woes, the racial strife that has been ongoing in America, and the apathetic functioning of the current administration was responsible for her feeling this way.
However, in a later Instagram post she indicated that she was doing “just fine” and that there was nothing to worry about. However, if someone had a case of the blues, they must accept whatever they felt instead of trying to bottle it up or shove it under the carpet. She further appealed to people to reach out and offer a shoulder to someone who needed their help.
Message – aprecursor to change
According to Dr. John Zajecka, a professor of psychiatry at Rush University Medical Center, it is a good sign that the first lady has openly talked about her condition. His statement was seconded by Dr. Michelle Durham, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the Boston University School of Medicine. She said that the former first lady speaking up about a mental health condition supportsthe fact that mental illness can happen to anyone and anytime. In fact, a lot of celebrities have talked about their struggle with depression recently bringing the focus back on the importance of mental health. Durham further stated that Obama’s podcast put across the message that it was all right if black women and women of colordidnot feel great and that everyone struggled.
Low grade depression – what is it all about?
While the former first lady talked about low-grade depression, not many know what that entails.Clinical depression is a mental health condition characterized by long periods of low mood and general low spirits. Depression can be divided into three categories basis the severity and intensity of the symptoms. These are major, moderate and mild. A low-grade depression can be understood as mild depression.
People suffering from low-grade depression experience the same symptoms as a person struggling with severe depression, that is, they have low energy levels, feel sad, have no apparent interest in day-to-day activities, and have trouble sleeping and getting out of bed. In spite of this, they somehow manage to push through the day.Their struggle with the disorder is often internalized and their pain and depression is not apparent to others. But, at theend of day they simply crash out. On the other hand, people battling severe depression struggle to even get out of bed and their ability to complete day-to-day chores is severely impaired.
Fortunately, depression is treatable with counselling, cognitive therapies and medication. Unfortunately, less than half the people struggling with the disorder actually seek treatment. And the pandemic has only made it worse.
Feeling isolated and lonely in the midst of the pandemic
The pandemic has been the greatest disruptor the world has faced in recent times and it is normal for people to feel jittery about it. Add to it the current economic, social and political turmoil and the impact it has had on an ordinary person’s life.
Though it has been tough for many, the hardest hit are the blacks, minorities, poor and women. Not only have they been separated from their loved ones, but they also had to cope with the unprecedented kind of hatred and abuse (that resulted in the tragic deaths of Breonna Taylor, AhmaudArbery, George Floyd, and Rayshard Brooks)that was unfathomed a few years ago.
A Kaiser Family Foundation report suggested that one in three adults in the U.S. report symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorders, and that compared to other countries, more Americans feelunder the weather.
The right time to seek help for depression is when the symptoms linger on for a couple of weeks or more or when the symptoms interfere with routine life. While talk therapy and some antidepressant medications could help a person deal with mild or low-grade depression, a chronic case would require a more intensive approach.
It is important to recognize the signs of depression and seek prompt medical help. Some signs that can help you know that a person might be at a risk of developing depression include:
- Changes to the usual sleep patterns or quality
- Difficulty concentrating
- Not finding joy in the things that used to make one happy
- Persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness
Here are some self-help tips in case an individual notices the above symptoms.
- Taking a break and gettingadequate rest
- Reaching out to people one can trust
- Exercising regularly as the endorphins that flow after exercise are the best medicine
- Limiting commitments so that one does not feel burdened or stressed out
If you notice someone experiencing prolonged periods of hopelessness or sadness, reach out to him or her. Such people might be suffering from depression and would need immediate medical help. At Medical Concierge, we understand that it is not easy to deal with depression. That is why; we offer holistic depression treatment plans that can help a person recover and regain control of their lives. For more information about our inpatient depression treatment center, call our 24/7 helpline 877-636-0042 and speak to an admission counselor. Alternatively, you can also chat online with a representative for further assistance.