One day, after a month of crippling depression, teenager Katelyn Marie Todd started feeling better- she started taming her hair again, showered, and brushed her teeth. Particularly proud of this accomplishment, she shared her experience on Facebook.
“She breaks it down to very human terms … her experience is powerful,” said Dr. Ken Duckworth, the medical director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. “I am hoping it will shed a little light on depression.”
Todd, 17, has actually been struggling with major depressive disorder for over the past seven years already. And like her, a massive amount of people has also been struggling with this condition as well. According to the National Institute of Mental of Health, 6.7 U.S. adults experienced at least one major depressive episode in the past year. Experts also say that 17 percent of people will experience it in their lives!
Depression isn’t just those occasional blue mood or being sad. Having depression compromises one’s functioning with at least two weeks of experiencing five of nine symptoms, including:
- Changes in appetite
- Loss of interest in once-enjoyable things
- Changes in sleep
- Sad, hopeless feelings
- Loss of energy
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Inability to concentrate
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Feelings of extreme restlessness or fatigue
“Very often people think depression is a moral weakness but it is a biological disorder that can be treated,” said Dr. Lilian Gonsalves, psychiatrist at the Cleveland Clinic. “Eighty percent of the time depression is a treatable illness.”
“Silence and shame are two key problems in addressing mental health problems,” Duckworth told Today. Todd, showing her vulnerabilities in social media and illustrating what depression can be like, has not only raised awareness to the public but has also made her feel like she’s not alone.
“For years, I felt like I had no one to talk to,” Todd told Today. “I still couldn’t convey it quite perfectly so no one really got the full idea of what I was feeling and it was really lonely. And I don’t want anyone else to feel lonely like that.”
“I had thousands of comments saying my post helped them in some way and it feels really amazing. The most important thing that I got from the whole experience was the idea that I was not alone.”