When people talk about depression they are often referring merely to a low or melancholic feeling or mood which might have overcome them briefly. In fact, the term is often even used as an exhortation for sympathy following some relatively minor event such as a team losing a game and the words ‘I’m depressed now’ might be followed by an ironic laugh or a slap on the back. On the other hand, some see depression only as a serious mental disturbance and attach it to it all sorts of prejudices as to the more general character and ability of the sufferer and see it only as a sign of weakness. The consequence of this is to avoid the person at all costs. However, this is not advised. 

The term depression can be misused or poorly understood. Depression can take many forms and have many causes but what distinguishes it from periodic sadness or incidents of negative response is that depression is something sustained over time. It is not something felt brief and quickly forgotten about or easily distracted from; it lasts over a period of time and is recurring. Such sustained periods of depression will inevitably affect the sufferer’s attitude and response to their life and environment and it is this change of behavior and attitude which is often more noticeable by friends and associates.

In the early stages or in milder cases of depression a sufferer may simply be apathetic or lack mental or physical energy. They may take a negative view on their life or circumstances or become especially morbid. All of this is within the natural range of human behavior and often, it takes a good friend or relative to know whether such a change has occurred in an individual. If you didn’t know a person was once a bag of beans and optimism you may not notice that they are now slow and withdrawn. Depression may begin almost trivially, due to tiredness or stress but as it recurs over time it begins to have an effect upon the mental and physical resources of the sufferer and becomes, itself, the cause of greater issues. Finding out about depression early on can save many difficulties as time passes.

 Believe it or not, learning a language is an excellent method for combatting the overwhelming emotions that accompany depression. One of the melancholy facts of depression is that it diminishes your world. With depression, your perception of everything around you is altered and this intensifies feelings of despair. From my experience,  one of the greatest gifts language knowledge offers is that it opens your perception of the world in a larger way. By learning a new language, you have an opportunity to see outside of your usual circle and into new cultures that you never thought to tap into a little more. Learning French, German or Mandarin isn’t meant to let the world collapse around you, instead, it opens it up and allows it to grow. Start learning a language today and help battle depression!

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