There is real hope for people with deep depression, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Toronto. Regardless of the severity of the mental illness, nearly 40 percent of individuals who had depression reported feeling happiness on almost a daily basis.
Two in five people who had been affected by the mentally-excruciating, socially-isolating illness for a certain period of time have achieved a happier life without suicidal ideation, substance abuse, and anxiety disorders.
Lead author Esme Fuller-Thomson released a similar study a few months ago which was focused on people who had ever considered killing themselves. The results were the same. About one in five of them did not report suicidal thoughts or any mental illness in the previous year.
“Our findings provide a hopeful message for both clients and clinicians: It is within the grasp of many individuals who have previously succumbed to depression to fully flourish and achieve complete mental health,” the paper states, according to the Daily Herald.
— Transcend Recovery (@TranscendSL) June 30, 2016
Recovery vs. survival
It is possible to have a social and psychological well-being after having gone through depression, even for those whose disorder have been massive. Life just feels hopeless when for a person struggling with this issue, but the mental health community is now focusing more on recovery than in mere survival and they are seeing very encouraging outcomes.
The field of mental health was previously filled with pessimism, as noted by Patrick Corrigan, who teaches psychology at the Illinois Institute of Technology and is an expert on mental illness stigma. He said the community was “stealing hope” away from those affected by depression, as reported by the Daily Herald. Corrigan added that there is hope when experts tackle the problem by focusing on recovery.
What is even more encouraging is that the period of time over which the individuals had gone through depression did not have an impact on recovery. In fact, some of the people who had achieved a positive well-being had suffered from severe depression for two or more years.
The research team collected data from the 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey-Mental Health. People considered as completely mentally healthy were free from mental illness for a year and felt happiness or satisfaction almost every day over a full month.
The research was not designed to predict relapse, but the lead author highlighted the fact that having a full month feeling happiness or satisfaction almost every day and a full year without depression symptoms was a very encouraging sign for those suffering.
The team also found that the social well-being of people recovered was positive. That was the common factor that led them to achieve a happier life. Individuals with at least one close relationship that was there emotionally supporting them were four times more likely to recover.
“I think we all know intuitively that being isolated isn’t good for us, but we’re incredibly social beings, and it’s toxic for us to be socially isolated,” Fuller-Thomson said, as quoted by the Daily Herald. “Investing in social relationships for a few more hours a day is worth more than a few more hours of work.”
The website The Mighty last month published an article titled “To the Friends Who Didn’t Give Up on Me When My Depression Wanted You To”. Samantha Slattery, the author, wrote about the importance of relationships confirmed by the study. She described how her friends helped her overcome a major depressive disorder.
Women, the most affected by depression
Mental health experts should also take into account how important it is for depressed women to have close relationships as part of their treatment, given that they are as twice as likely as men to suffer from depression and anxiety.
Sejal West, assistant commissioner for mental health services at the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, said that women are genetically predisposed to those problems due to brain chemistry and genetic makeup, according to a report by The Tennessean.
Taking a new job, having a baby or going through a move or divorce are among the life milestones that can lead women to depression. A study recently conducted by the Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health revealed that the gender pay gap might be an important factor related to depression in women. In 2013, this group earned 82 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterpart.
West recommends talking with a primary care provider and seek treatment before it is too late, adding that people should not underestimate such negative feeling and think it is normal to feel that way often.
Source: Daily Herald