Many of us fear to go to the doctor’s office — any type of doctor’s office! In this day and age, we use search engines to identify our symptoms. The result is often frightening. Even more frightening is having our assumptions verified by a health care practitioner. Or so we think.
In reality, none of the above is worse than untreated depression. Major Depressive Disorder is increasingly common and should not be ignored. Symptoms of untreated depression include:
- Feelings of guilt and shame
- A sense of worthlessness
- Losing interest in activities that were once exciting
- Physical issues such as low energy, poor sleep, and sudden changes in eating habits
Left untreated, depression can bring us to a place of dark thoughts, feelings of doom, and serious thoughts of death and suicide. Things are slowly changing but, yes, some still feel a stigma around any discussion of mental health. Before you allow this concern to stop you from seeking treatment, please read on. The stakes are far too high to not get the help you deserve.
6 Facts You Should Know about Untreated Depression
1. It increases the likelihood of risky behaviors
Here’s the reality: Those who do not seek treatment for their depression are more likely to engage in behaviors like:
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- Unprotected sex (with multiple partners)
- Gambling or other impulsive behavior
- Uncharacteristic criminality
- Self-harming behaviors (see #7)
We may wonder why someone did something so “reckless.” We may judge another person for the risks they take. What most of us don’t factor in is the possible presence of untreated depression.
2. Your relationships can be compromised
When you are depressed, maintaining healthy relationships becomes difficult. Your spouse, partner, friends, co-workers, neighbors, family, and so on may not know about your depression. This leaves them to assign other reasons for whatever conflict or distance exists between you.
3. There is a direct correlation to serious physical illnesses
Studies show, over and over, that untreated depression is connected with physical illnesses. Above, we mentioned issues related to sleep, eating, and energy. This may combine with weight gain or weight loss and inactivity to compound other health concerns. Depression can cause you to not care or to stop taking care of yourself. Your body may pay a huge price for the decisions you make in this state.
4. Your schooling/career and financial life are put in peril
This is a variation of #2 above. Major Depressive Disorder can make it difficult to pursue your goals and dreams. Over time, pursuing your hopes can feel too burdensome and cause you to abandon them. Depression is the enemy of motivation. Succeeding in school or at work is all about taking initiative and challenging yourself.
5. Social anxiety and isolation
The cycle is sadly predictable. You feel down, even worthless. What once excited you is no longer appealing. Step by step, you pull away from social interactions. The time alone feeds your sense of anxiety and isolation—making it less likely you’ll choose to engage with others.
6. Self-destructive behaviors: from cutting to eating disorders to suicide
This is the inevitable destination. Untreated depression does not miraculously go away. Rather, it feeds on its own momentum. At some point, this translates into behaviors designed to harm yourself. Your thoughts grow darker and suicide creeps into your mind as a feasible option. But even at this point, you can get help.
You can address untreated depression through therapy
Believe it or not, the above list is just a sampling. Depression can be more than any one person can handle. Fortunately, you are not alone. Working with a therapist is a proven method of managing and treating depression. More and more, people are recognizing and accepting this option and the results speak for themselves. Untreated depression will lead you along a dangerous path. Therapy is the detour.