Social Media Impacting Your Mental Health

Woman with pink shorts and exposed legs holding phone with Instagram on

The Exotic Lifestyles Of Instagram

With so much time on our hands during this social distancing chapter of our lives, it’s hard not to notice the exotic pictures on instagram and other social media websites. Believe it or not, not everyone is stuck in your typical apartment or house in a normal town. Many are stuck in exotic places like Caribbean islands! But does social media negatively impact your mental health?

You bet it does. But it also depends if you allow it to. Remember that everything works on an unconscious level: our interactions with others, our observation of the environment, our perception of others’ lives, etc. Everything is recorded in the unconscious mind. Social media is basically a snapshot of others’ lives in that timeframe, but it is not at all representative of how those people are feeling.

The problem with social media is that when we observe pictures that we are attracted to, we forget to remind ourselves that it does not mean that the people in those pictures are happy with their lives. We just focus on the glamour and when we do that, it has the potential to make us sad in return, because we compare it with our ordinary lives.

So what you end up getting out of social media is a small dopamine rush by noticing beautiful and attractive pictures of people, places and things at the expense of your own happiness. That’s because the dopamine rush (which is minuscule in this case but strong enough to notice) lasts for a very short time, but your unhappiness can last for a much longer time.

So what you end up doing is revisiting these social media websites to get more of your fix, rather than focusing on your life and how to improve your mental health. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t spend time visiting social media platforms, but be aware of your state of mind and how it can be easily influenced by social media; don’t be oblivious!

And definitely don’t envy the exotic lifestyles which you notice on Instagram. Being envious towards others’ success will only make you miserable and prevent you from developing your own success. Don’t be that person. Rather, be appreciative and happy for others’ success. Would you want others to be envious of your success? I hope that you wouldn’t.

We are supposed to live happily together by teaching, sharing and helping each other. Our goal is to try to diminish the negative traits in humanity and promote new positive ones that can be passed down to future generations!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Crack Stole My Leg

Depressed man wearing black hoodie with head down sitting on train track

Depression And Drug Use

If you think depression and drug use don’t go hand in hand, think again. Depression seeks drugs and drugs feed off depression; they’re the best combination to keep you suffering and to lose hope for the future. Uncontrolled depression whispers in your mind to alleviate your suffering with drugs and drugs whisper back, “I’ll take care of the rest.” But when drugs and depression gain too much power, suicidal ideations begin to make an appearance.

Suicidal ideations in the context of drug use and depression is a very bad situation. The problem is worsened by a low socioeconomic status, poor family support and bad friendships. The problem is that patients in these situations do not see the light at the end of the tunnel; their minds are too clouded by mental illness and substance addiction.

Many of these patients do not use soft drugs such as marijuana or psychedelics. When you are facing homelessness, unemployment and a past psychiatric history of depression or schizophrenia, soft drugs have no place on one’s plate. Drugs such as crack-cocaine and heroin better fit the picture.

The problem is when hard drugs are used on top of psychiatric symptoms such as depression, suicidal ideations or auditory hallucinations, judgment, impulse and insight become impaired. When these mental processes become impaired, so does one’s view on suicidal ideations.

Suicidal ideations unfortunately become the only sparkling light at the end of the tunnel. And sometimes this sparkling light is intensified by the track gleaming lights of passing trains. Patients in these severely depressed and addicted mindsets see an opportunity to end their living nightmares by jumping in front of a train.

And jumping is what they sometimes do . . . some survive while some lose their leg. This is never the solution but when living under such cloudy and foggy mental conditions, your decision-making becomes greatly impaired. That’s why it’s so important that we advocate for mental health and substance abuse support worldwide; these people depend on us and are thankful for our desire to help them once again live a life full of happiness and love!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Suicide Attempts In Immigrants

Sad immigrant man with head down wearing red hat, gray pants and white sneakers

Foreign, Gay And Suicidal

Many immigrants who come to the United States with the hope of starting a better life become prone to developing depression for many reasons. Each individual carries different risk factors, such as gender, sexual orientation, financial status, social status and past psychiatric history. Suicide attempts in immigrants are not unusual; a different country provides different stressors.

When immigrants come to the United States with big expectations and fail to achieve their dreams and goals, depression starts to kick in. Not only have they left their family back in their home country, but they are now facing excessive worry about achieving a career while paying the bills, especially if their goal is unrealistic.

An example is a young gay male in his 20s who immigrates from Chile to Manhattan to become a famous actor. He attends acting school in Manhattan, makes friends who are also interested in acting and crosses his fingers with the hope of landing a paid acting gig. A few weeks pass by after graduation . . . a few months . . . he is still not paid and is working for Uber to get by.

On the other hand, he feels relieved that NYC is open to homosexuality and finds great pleasure in being open about his sexuality and going on dates; he even finds himself in a relationship with another young man. But a few months later, his partner from the West Village breaks up with him, leaving him to feel devastated and empty.

Not only is he an immigrant, but his gay partner has left him and he still has not succeeded in obtaining a paid gig in acting. So he starts consuming more alcohol in order to cope with the depression; he never used to drink much alcohol. After he realizes that the alcohol does not work, he takes an overdose of the antidepressant that he was prescribed by his psychiatrist and brings himself into the emergency room.

This time he was lucky and got out alive. This is an example of how depression and suicidal ideations can creep up on an immigrant who innocently came to the United States for a better life. Depression has no borders; you may be rich or poor, living in Mexico City or a penthouse in Manhattan and still have thoughts of wanting to kill yourself.

This is how serious mental illness is.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Jumping Off The Bridge

Man sitting on wooden bridge overlooking snow-covered mountains and lake

When Depression Blows Up In Your Face

Imagine suffering from depression since your adolescent years but never talking about it with anyone. Your culture considers mental illness to be a taboo and you view psychiatric medications as something that only “crazy people” take. So all that you’re left with is depressive feelings haunting you every day of your life, until you feel like jumping off the bridge.

This is how many people feel every day, especially those who don’t seek treatment. Some people do seek behavioral counseling but counseling is not always enough; as a matter of fact, it almost never is. The evidence in the literature demonstrates that both medications and therapy is the best treatment for depression; not one or the other.

The scary thing about depression is that you may have been suffering from it for years and believe that you have it under control, until it randomly blows up in your face. Depression can be like COVID-19: it can unexpectedly strike at anytime. One day you may be sad like you typically are and the next you are getting drunk and walking towards a bridge with the intention of jumping off.

Depression is not an illness to take lightly. It has the power to end your life whenever it feels like it. You may think that you have your depression under control, until it decides on a random day to try to kill you. Because you are already mentally weak from the illness, when it does decide to kill you, you may not have enough strength to stop it. That’s how many end up committing suicide and people wonder why they never saw it coming.

If you are experiencing depression, no matter how mild or severe, you need to seek treatment immediately! Do not wait until you end up in a CPEP to start seeking treatment. There is nothing to be ashamed of. Just like the coronavirus is infecting people all around the world, the same applies with depression.

Take your mental health seriously.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Depression Dripping From Your Heart

Depressed man with hand on face sitting in front of chessboard

Tired And Depressed

Daylight saving time kicks in at 2 am. You wake up and think to yourself, “Is this supposed to make me happier?” You roll back to sleep in a different position as you entertain what might possibly go different today. Immediately, a negative thought pops into your mind, “Nothing will go differently cause you’re lame and have nothing to do.” You close your eyes as depression drips from your heart.

You finally get up, wash your face, brew a cup of French Vanilla Starbucks coffee and eat some honey crunch cereal while watching more negative coronavirus news on the television. You actually get a kick out of the increasing numbers of coronavirus fatalities, thinking to yourself how you’re not the only one suffering.

But then you quickly correct your thoughts and remind yourself that it’s never right to wish bad upon others. But then you wonder, “I feel bad for others but who feels bad for me?” As you jump into your routine activities with the hope that today will be better, the feeling of boredom and sadness slowly resurface.

You also feel tired and it’s only 10:43 am on a Saturday. You just don’t know what to do anymore. You’re not suicidal and you would never take your life, but no matter how hard you try, you can’t seem to get out of this rut. You hope and hope that life will throw you a few milk bones and help you get out of this emotional disaster.

You’re sick of depression dripping from your heart; at least with a heart attack, you go to the hospital and hopefully recover within 24 hours. With depression, the feeling can linger for years at a time. This is worse than a heart attack! Depression is like being tortured 24/7 with no end in sight. Sometimes the only means of coping with depression is pulling out a bottle of Smirnoff. But then you remind yourself, “This won’t do anything either except make me more depressed in the long run.”

While some people require antidepressants or psychotherapy to improve from depression, not everyone needs these treatments. Don’t be quick to jump on a medication because there is no such thing as a “quick fix.” The true way to defeat depression is to dive within yourself and find out what it is that is truly bothering you.

Only after you make the identification, do you place yourself in a better position to defeat depression. Only then can you squeeze the remaining depressive juices out of your heart and urinate them away forever.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Living In A Suicide Forest

Two persons hugging trees in a dark forest

Suicide Squad To The Rescue

When some people suffer from chronic, passive suicidal ideations, their lenses have become so dirty from the forest that they have been living in, that they can no longer properly see what lies ahead. They venture deeper into the forest with not many options, but only to blindly traverse the path of unknown destination. Living in a suicide forest is like jumping in a zoo exhibit of hungry lions slowly approaching you for their next meal.

No one in their right mind requests to visit a suicide forest. These forests grow all around us; you don’t have to go searching far. The problem with these forests is that once you enter them, it becomes very difficult to come back out alive. As soon as you cross the imaginary perimeter surrounding a suicide forest, you are drawn in like a black hole.

What usually drives one into a suicide forest? Typically, it’s major depressive disorder or substance abuse that draw people near the imaginary line. These mental illnesses are so powerful that if you lose your grip on them, it’s almost inevitable that you won’t end up staring at death trees all around you.

How does it feel to traverse a suicide forest? No one can really tell you, unless they have been there and have come back out alive. But once in these forests, people tend to see no way out of their depression; no matter how positive they try to be, they just can’t see the light anymore. Suicide forests receive little light from the sun; they remain dark most of the day.

Even when light from the sun makes it through, people tend to remain in their rut and seem to struggle with experiencing happiness. Eventually, only one destination manifests in their minds: committing suicide. They realize that they have no chance of getting out of the suicide forest by themselves, so they prefer to just end everything right there and then.

But that’s where we come in; the suicide squad! Everyone in the world can join this free squad. It just requires patience, will and the determination to help those in need who have been stuck in suicide forests for days, months, years or even decades. Saving depressed people does not require us to actually enter suicide forests.

The nice feature about suicide forests is that when we talk from their imaginary line making up their borders, our words resonate throughout the entire forest, making it easy for the victims to hear us. In other words, they can be miles away and still hear us clearly. But this does not mean that it’s an easy task to get them out of there. But at least we can try.

This is the suicide squad. Are you ready to join and help over 200 million people worldwide who are suffering from depression and stuck in suicide forests?

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

The Invisibility Of Depression

Depressed man standing in front of large window

Sadness In The Shadows

Depression is like an invisible dark cloud that hovers in the stratosphere, looming all around us and ready to attack when in our weakest states of mind. The invisibility of depression can be observed through the actions of those affected: avolition, abulia, apathy, anhedonia and more. Sadness in the shadows is much more common than you would think.

Just because someone may not act like it or talk about it, does not mean that they are not experiencing depression. Many suicides that occur are never seen coming, “He was the last person I imagined would ever do that”, “She always seemed so happy! I never saw any signs of depression in her.”

You can never assume that every person who you meet is showing their true feelings. Many people mask their depression out of fear of embarrassment and ridicule. It’s not easy nor comfortable to experience depression: it lowers your self-esteem, makes you feel worthless and crashes your self-confidence.

With the symptoms mentioned above, it’s no surprise why many people find it difficult to share their depressive feelings with others. The fear of people not understanding or the thought of others viewing them differently is sometimes too much to handle. They prefer not to take the chance and just deal with the symptoms in the shadows.

Hiding your depressive feelings is what makes up the invisibility of depression; no one can see it if you don’t reveal it to others. It’s as if you’re wearing an invisibility cloak, but deep inside there is something tortuous and potentially deadly brewing. That’s why it’s so important to keep fighting for the end of mental health stigma.

As long as the stigma prevails, the invisibility of depression will continue striving in the shadows, attacking potential victims at its first opportunity. The importance of eliminating stigma cannot be stressed enough, and this can only be done with openness, support, comfort and honesty.

The DSM Ready community calls on everyone from all walks of life to come together and help eliminate mental health stigma. Together we can and we will!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Being Open About Depression

Depressed man with arm against wall staring out the window

Share Your Stories With The World

You’d be surprised how many people suffer from depression. People who you would never expect to experience depressive symptoms, may have been suffering for years. Depression is not always how we envision: someone who appears sad, disheveled, does not talk much and appears tearful all the time. Being open about depression is something that we should all be doing.

Many depressed people do not always appear depressed: they continue to remain functional, go to work, play tennis, maintain friendships, pay the bills, etc. It’s not until they tell you face to face about their depression that it surprises you. But should it really surprise you? Mental health problems are so common that almost everyone has some experience; it’s just whether we admit it or not.

Can you imagine going through life feeling depressed, all while remaining functional in society? Nobody has a clue of how you truly feel; the worst part is that everyone probably thinks that you are happy. People thinking that you are happy is not a bad thing, but it can be when you are feeling depressed and hiding your symptoms from others.

Sharing your stories with the world can help you overcome depression; of course, you have to find the right people. But believe it or not, by sharing your stories, you can accomplish two things: you might feel better about yourself and you might discover that someone else has been going through a similar experience as you have.

When you find people to connect with about your mental health problems, it makes an entire world of a difference: you no longer feel alone and you finally feel understood. Sometimes just connecting with someone who also feels depressed or is battling another mental illness, is more effective than an antidepressant or psychotherapy!

So stop doing yourself more harm than good by hiding your depressive feelings. It’s time to be open about your depression and find a few trustworthy people who you can share your experiences with. By sharing your stories with the world rather than hiding them in the closet, you will start to feel much better about yourself.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Winter Sun

Sun shining behind rocky mountains filled with snow

When New Hope Rises Behind The Horizon

Winter for many people can feel like a never-ending passageway deep underground; lost in a cave that you innocently went exploring and can no longer find your way back into humanity. That’s how the winter can feel for many people. These short days which quickly turn into darkness leave you wondering, “Will I ever seem tomorrow again?” The answer is yes, because the winter sun is always shining!

New hope always rises behind the horizon: you just have to notice it and grasp onto it. Winter months may seem very long, especially when it’s cold outside and darkness creeps in early in the evening. But darkness does not consume hope, because hope is always available for anyone who seeks it.

And this hope lies in the winter sun. As its rays rise up every day to give light to this world, we become healed by its warmth and beauty. But those who get lost in depression no longer know how to harness the positive energy provided by the winter sun. And that’s where we can come in as fellow human beings: to help guide those who are lost and show them the way back home.

Remember that you are not alone during the winter: many people experience the “winter blues” or seasonal affective disorder. But the last thing that you want to do is to lose your hope. Your hope is what should be keeping you alive to see another day. Your hope is what is going to prevent you from hurting yourself and others around you.

Through hope, we can come together and defeat depression on a global level. The winter sun is available for all of mankind: God gave his only son Jesus Christ to humanity in order for us to be saved from mental illness, physical disorders, sin and suffering. Through the winter sun, we wake up and rise like Jesus Christ once did.

If you notice somebody who is feeling down or acting outside of their character, say something! Sometimes just a “hello” can make someone’s day: it makes them feel recognized and alive. Don’t seclude yourself into your own selfish world. Reach out to people and show them that you care, even if you don’t know who they are!

Together we can and together we will! This is DSM.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Why Is Depression More Common In Females?

Depressed blonde woman leaning against brown wooden wall

The Gender That Is More Depressed

While depression is more common in females, it’s important to note that depression happens quite commonly in males as well. There are many factors that predispose women to developing depression: hormonal changes during puberty, premenstrual syndrome, pregnancy, giving birth, perimenopause, life circumstances and culture and other psychiatric conditions such as anxiety, schizophrenia, eating disorders and drug abuse.

Hormonal changes during puberty as well as emerging sexuality are reasons for why females experience depression during this time period. It is thought that estrogen and progesterone are the hormones that disrupt the function of serotonin in the brain, resulting in depressive feelings. In addition, their emerging sexuality, interest in partying, identification with peers, mood swings and conflicts with parents are reasons behind their depressive experiences.

Females who experience premenstrual syndrome struggle with abdominal bloating, breast tenderness, headaches, irritability and anxiety. These symptoms are obviously distracting from everyday life, increasing their chances of feeling depressed. In addition, some women progress to develop premenstrual dysphoric disorder, a disabling depressive experience that may interfere with their studies, work and relationships.

Depression during pregnancy can occur due to many reasons: a lack of social support, lifestyle changes, unplanned pregnancies, stopping use of antidepressants, previous episodes of depression, etc. Pregnancy can be a very big stressor for many women, easily leading to depressive symptoms when inadequate support is an issue.

While about 60% of women experience the postpartum blues, about 15% also develop postpartum depression. The responsibility of taking care of a child, hormonal changes, previous episodes of postpartum depression, infant complications and poor social support are some of the reasons behind developing postpartum depression.

Perimenopause or the transition to menopause may cause depression in some women. This may be due to interrupted sleep, history of anxiety or depression and hormonal changes. For some women, just the idea of entering “menopause” may be shocking to them: the realization of “aging” can be quite hard on some women.

Lastly, life circumstances and culture can also lead to higher rates of depression in females. Many women tend to work and maintain responsibility at home, such as taking care of the children and the house. And while the divorce rate remains elevated, many women may be experiencing single parenthood, having to work a job and take care of a child at the same time.

Because women are more likely than men to experience sexual abuse, they’re also more likely to experience depression as a result. In addition, unequal power and status is still a major concern around the world for many women, resulting in a lower self-esteem, feelings of negativity and a sense of lack of control, all increasing the chance for the development of depression.

As men, we need to become more supportive of women overall. They are the ones who tend to be more nurturing than us, take care of our children, cook and clean the house and maintain a job to make ends meet. They also have to experience fluctuating hormones, resulting in mood changes, stress and irritability.

Let’s come together and help all the women in the world. Together we can.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)