This is a very sensitive topic amongst gun owners and concealed carriers alike: mental health issues. And, in specific, depression is a prevailing and common ailment. Without oversimplifying or understating it, if you are experiencing the effects of what you believe to be a mental health problem, you shouldn’t fear seeking help.
I have a bit of background in this topic because I served in the military and dealt with issues with friends, family, and myself. My biggest fear in initially getting treatment was information theft. In an age where information is very readily tracked and passed around, I was frightened that my treatment for depression or other mental ailments could result in a medical record that could be passed around or potentially used to blackmail me.
Ultimately, I made the decision to seek help for my depression because I needed to be there for my own family and I couldn’t do that if I was operating at half strength.
Has a person’s mental health record been used against him in court to rule he doesn’t have the right to possess firearms? Yes.
In those cases, we typically see someone who makes verbal claims of violence against himself or others.
It’s okay to have depression. It’s estimated that as many as 16 million Americans suffer from depression. There are plenty of treatment options — many of which will enable you to actively deal with the symptoms as they present themselves versus suffer in silence.
As a concealed carrier, I can say from experience that depression absolutely has an effect on how I react to a situation. Thankfully, none of those situations where I’ve observed those traits in myself have been while my life has been directly at risk. As a former Marine, I keenly understand how much the mind affects the body and vice versa.
I discovered that working out regularly and keeping a journal of my exercise helped reinforce good behavior and address bad emotional behavior.
In terms of concealed carry practices, I typically am slower to appreciate the inherent risk of a situation when I’m depressed. That means I need to be even more situationally aware of my surroundings.
It’s easy to get stuck in my own head sometimes.
When I’m stuck in my own head, I’m not paying attention to the world around me. This presents itself as a risk.
Additionally, when I’m feeling depressed, I tend to view others’ actions as more critical and harsh than they may be. This means I have to step back and appraise a person’s actions outside of the scope of simply how I feel at the time.
Through counseling and therapy, I’ve learned more about specific triggers in my environment and my own behavior so I can counter-act those moments when I believe I may be depressed. For me, physical fitness and working out proved to be powerful tools to addressing my emotions. For others, they may require much more.
The most important thing to take away is understanding that depression absolutely affects perception. Perception is one of the key tools we use to judge a situation and determine risk. If my perception is off, I can’t accurately assess a situation and that means I may not be able to react in an optimum manner.
Don’t feel ashamed or scared to get help. It’s the responsible thing to do and it will absolutely improve your ability to react to high stress situations.