Depression: Don’t Worry – Be Happy

Don’t Worry Be Happy: Dealing with Depression

In 1988 Bobby McFerrin performed a song entitled – “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” Even as you read the title of the song, my guess is that you can remember the words as well as the catchy little tune. Some of the words are –
Here is a little song I wrote
You might want to sing it note for note
Don’t worry be happy
In every life we have some trouble
When you worry you make it double
Don’t worry, be happy……

…Ain’t got no cash, ain’t got no style
Ain’t got no girl to make you smile
But don’t worry be happy
Cause when you worry
Your face will frown
And that will bring everybody down
So don’t worry, be happy (now)…..

Sounds like a good remedy for depression doesn’t it? If only it were that easy. Without realizing it many of us communicate this kind of message to those who are feeling depressed. We want our spouse, or our child, or other loved ones to feel better when they are emotionally down. We don’t like it when others feel bad. We often work hard to make them feel better because, in actuality, we want to feel better. “Don’t worry, be happy,” or “just get over it,” or “pull yourself out of this,” or “you’re a person of strong faith, you shouldn’t feel this way,” are all different ways of saying the same thing. Everyone would benefit if we better understood depression.

There are several types of depression – major depression, dysthymia, bipolar depression, and seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Clinical depression or major depression is a serious and common disorder of mood that is pervasive, intense and effects the mind and body at the same time. Current theories indicate that clinical depression may be associated with an imbalance of chemicals in the brain that carry communication between nerve cells that control mood and other bodily systems. Other factors may also come into play, such as negative life experiences including stress or loss, medication, other medical illnesses, and certain personality traits and genetic factors.

Some symptoms of depression include,

  • Persistent sad, anxious or empty mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in ordinary activities
  • Decreased energy, a feeling of fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Restlessness or irritability
  • Inability to sleep or oversleeping
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Unexplained aches and pains
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Dysthymia is a milder form of depression that lasts two years or more. It is the second most common type of depression but because people with dysthymia may only have two or three symptoms, it may be overlooked and go undiagnosed and untreated. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression that follows seasonal rhythms, with symptoms occurring in the winter months and diminishing in spring and summer. Current research indicates that the absence of sunlight triggers a biochemical reaction that may cause symptoms such as loss of energy, decreased activity, sadness, and excessive eating and sleeping. Depression can have serious effects on your ability to work effectively, care for children, study, and may bring active thoughts of suicide.

Anyone can suffer from depression including teenagers, college students, moms, dads, senior citizens. It takes more than “Don’t worry, be happy” to overcome depression. Don’t suffer silently with depression. Get help.