Stage 1: Gain knowledge: The first stage of my G.E.T. Healthy! approach to healing in depression requires leveraging the power of knowledge. It is my belief that the more we learn about its debilitating symptoms, the more effective we can be in dealing with them, and eventually, overcoming them.

Before learning more intimately about what depression really was, I considered it like an emotion, that ‘down in the dumps’ feeling. If I mess up at work, I may feel discouraged and depressed, or if I act impatiently with the kids, I may feel guilty and depressed, and so on. I would use the term depression interchangeably with what are otherwise natural and normal emotions.

Depression, I have learned, is neither natural and nor is it normal. It is abnormal. So what really is this thing called depression? To find the answer, I consulted a number of different sources, particularly the Canadian Mental Health Association and the dictionary:

Canadian Mental Health Association on depression:

At the time of writing, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) describes depression as: “A major depressive disorder-usually just called “depression”-is different than the “blues”. Someone experiencing depression is grappling with feelings of severe despair over an extended period of time. Almost every aspect of their life can be affected, including their emotions, physical health, relationships and work. For people with depression, it does not feel like there is a ‘light at the end of the tunnel’-there is just a long, dark tunnel.” (CMHC Website as of June 2012)

Dictionary definition of depression:

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines depression as: “A psychoneurotic or psychotic disorder marked especially by sadness, inactivity, difficulty in thinking and concentration, a significant increase or decrease in appetite and time spent sleeping, feelings of dejection and hopelessness, and sometimes suicidal tendencies.”