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The Silent Thief: The 5 Things Depression Can Steal

The Silent Thief: The 5 Things Depression Can Steal

This material has been reviewed for accuracy by: Renee Albers, PhD

“Depression is a thief,” writes Abhinav Chaurasia, a marketing automation specialist in an essay on LinkedIn. “It steals your joy, your motivation, and your ability to function normally.”Thief running away in an underground garage, illustrating how depression is a silent thief

Many people who have struggled with depression will talk about how depression can steal time fighting the disease – sometimes months, years and even decades.

“Depression is a cruel thief that raids your heart, your home, your future, your present, your past. It steals your most precious possessions not to keep or use or give away or sell but just because they’re there. Those loves for which you lived become loot burning by the wayside,” writes S. Rufus in Psychology Today. “This is stealthy, silent theft that masquerades as aging, failure, sulkiness, stupidity, ingratitude, unmindfulness, unwillingness to try. This is a monumental crime that masquerades as just another day.”

Major depressive disorder isn’t temporary sadness; symptoms must persist for more than 2 weeks, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Depression can steal more than just what’s been written about here: If you feel you may be suffering from depression, it may be best to reach out to your doctor.

#1 Social Robbery: Isolation and broken connections

Depression can impact relationships, friendships and your dating life. Those in a depressive episode often don’t have the energy or ability to share their limited emotional resources with their partners, friends and family, which can in turn increase feelings of guilt or self-loathing.

The Band Camino shares this feeling in its song “1 Last Cigarette”:

“All my friends they hate me again
I lost my **** now all I got left
Is ten missed calls and one last cigarette

Maybe I should see somebody
‘Cause I can’t keep this up
Everything inside my body
Is telling me to stop”

Depression and loneliness seem to reinforce each other, according to an article in Everyday Health.

“The more people get depressed, the more they isolate, a fact that heightens feelings of loneliness, which, in turn, worsens depression,” said licensed psychologist James C. Jackson, PsyD, a research professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee in the article. “It is often a vicious cycle.”

Two black women hug on a beach looking at a sunset, illustrating importance of connection during depressionForcing yourself to engage in social interaction – like reaching out to family members or scheduling time with friends – may help.

“Connection, after all, can be an antidote to both loneliness and depression,” said Dr. Jackson.

#2 Stealer of Joy: Loss of happiness

A lot of people think that depression = sadness. And they are partially right.

Depression is more than just feeling down, though; depression can steal pleasure and prevent you from doing the things you normally love.

“Another common symptom of depression that is sometimes overlooked is the feeling that you no longer find the things you used to enjoy to be interesting or pleasurable. Known as anhedonia, this symptom is present in up to 75% of adults and young people with depression,” according to an article in The Conversation. “But despite how common this symptom is, it remains one of the most difficult symptoms to treat and manage.”

Traditional treatments for depression may help – like cognitive behavioral therapy and medication, according to the article.

Another option? Try something new.Button reading Find a Provider

“And while it can be hard to find motivation if you’re experiencing anhedonia, trying to find time for fun, enjoyable activities or experiences like a hobby you used to love – or even a new hobby – could help alleviate anhedonia,” according to the article.

#3 Identity Theft: Stripping away self-worth

“I think the saddest people always try their hardest to make people happy. Because they know what it feels like to feel absolutely worthless and they don’t want anybody else to feel like that,” said the late comedian Robin Williams as quoted in Scary Mommy.

When depression hits, self-worth may be one of the first things to go.

“Low self-esteem, characterized by feelings of worthlessness and incapability, is often seen in people seeking therapy for depression,” says Thomas A. Veeder, MD, a psychiatrist and professor of psychiatry at the Oregon Health and Science University School of Medicine in Portland, Oregon in an article in PsychCentral.

“The emotional conditions inherent in depression such as guilt, hopelessness, and apathy can lead to despair…If someone with low self-esteem starts to feel guilty about something, it reinforces their depression,” says Veeder. “Then their depression — when they can’t get out of bed — can reinforce their guilt and their low self-esteem.”

#4 The Stolen Hours: Time lost

Analog clock with a portion missing, showing how depression can steal valuable timeDepression can literally steal weeks, years, and even decades of your life. Days blend into a monotonous haze, and even the simplest tasks take monumental effort. You may have heard stories of people who missed significant life occasions – weddings, birthdays, graduations, etc. – because they were fighting the invisible disorder of depression.

According to a post on the Symptoms of Living blog:

“We never consider time to be in our control, but that’s probably because you never had to. For once you’ve watched time slip by and leave you behind, you know that others do have it wrapped around their pinky. As they experience the best years of their life while you struggle behind a curtain of darkness, you become sorely aware that time is not your friend. I lost seven years of my life to my depression. And I do consider them lost because what I mainly have of them is painful memories and a fear that seizes me. The beautiful moments that my peers will look back on and speak fondly of are either blur to me or another reminder of how much I ached while everyone around me grinned.”

#5 The Night Thief: Sleep disturbances

Sleep is vital to our wellbeing. Those who suffer from a bad night’s sleep may tell you the next day that they feel like a “zombie” or that they are “just going through the motions.”

And that’s just one bad night. Sleep disturbance is a common symptom of depression.

“Links between sleep and depression are strong. About three quarters of depressed patients have insomnia symptoms, and hypersomnia is present in about 40% of young depressed adults and 10% of older patients, with a preponderance in females,” according to an article in the journal Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience. “The symptoms cause huge distress, have a major impact on quality of life, and are a strong risk factor for suicide.”

Stopping the depression thief

There’s no doubt depression can steal the important things in life. The emotional toll, erosion of identity, loss of time, social isolation, and sleepless nights have a huge impact on how people can live their lives.

Button with GeneSight logo and text learn more about the GeneSight testBut, there is hope – and, more importantly, treatment.

According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), seeking treatment is worth it.

“Depression is among the most treatable of mental disorders. Between 80% and 90% percent of people with depression eventually respond well to treatment. Almost all patients gain some relief from their symptoms,” according to its website.

If you aren’t sure where to start to get treatment, start with your primary care clinician. They may treat you directly or refer you to another mental health professional.

“Before a diagnosis or treatment, a health professional should conduct a thorough diagnostic evaluation, including an interview and a physical examination. In some cases, a blood test might be done to make sure the depression is not due to a medical condition like a thyroid problem or a vitamin deficiency (reversing the medical cause would alleviate the depression-like symptoms),” according to the APA website. “The evaluation will identify specific symptoms and explore medical and family histories as well as cultural and environmental factors with the goal of arriving at a diagnosis and planning a course of action.”

If you or someone you know may be struggling with suicidal thoughts, you can call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 any time of day or night or chat online.

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For more information about depression, please read these articles on our website:

Our articles are for informational purposes only and are reviewed by our Medical Information team, which includes PharmDs, MDs, and PhDs. Do not make any changes to your current medications or dosing without consulting your healthcare provider.

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