By: Marlene Affeld ~
Depression And Anxiety
Depression is a prolonged psychological condition that affects our thoughts, feelings and behaviors. The majority of persons suffering from depression cannot experience emotions, including love, joy, pleasure, pride, hope, accomplishment, anticipation, or grief, in a normal way. Many people with depression experience feelings of low-self esteem, self-loathing, loneliness and despair. Others describe depression as a constant feeling of impending danger or doom.
Depressed people are often socially withdrawn and feel progressively hopeless and helpless. Common symptoms of depression include irritability, insomnia, anxiety, fatigue, paranoia, and an inability to concentrate or make decisions. In cases of extreme depression, memory and cognitive skills may be impaired.
A patient plagued with chronic depression describes his condition, remarking, “Depression is a maladjustment. The way we react to emotions when we’re depressed isn’t calibrated the same way as other people. It becomes a habit to be negative, and it’s difficult to learn the proper way to react or how to feel certain positive emotions. That doesn’t mean you can’t. You’re not missing a happy gland. You’re just out of alignment.”
While many depressed persons experience intense feelings of unrelenting sadness, others don’t feel sad at all. Rather they may feel empty, lifeless and apathetic or aggressive, restless, bitter, and angry. For many, the descent into depression is fraught with obsessive thoughts of death and suicide. Ignored or improperly treated depression is the leading cause of suicide in the United States.
What Is Depression?
The NIH (National Institute of Mental Health) answers the question,
“What Is Depression?” by stating, “Everyone occasionally feels blue or sad. But these feelings are usually short-lived and pass within a couple of days. When you have depression, it interferes with daily life and causes pain for both you and those who care about you.
Depression is a common but serious illness. However, many people with a depressive illness never seek treatment. But the majority, even those with the most severe depression, can get better with treatment. Medications, psychotherapies, and other methods can effectively treat people with depression.”
Medical experts advise that proper treatment cures 90 percent of depression cases.
Types Of Depression
The University of Maryland Medical School explains depression affects people differently and in varying degrees, noting, “The primary types of depression include:
- Major depression — A person must be depressed for at least two weeks but often for as long as 20 weeks.
- Dysthymia — a long-lasting, less severe form of depression. Symptoms are like those of major depression but more mild. People with dysthymia have a greater risk of major depression.
- Atypical depression — Unlike those with major depression, people with atypical depression can feel better for a while when something good happens. In addition, people with atypical depression have different symptoms than those with major depression. Despite its name, atypical depression may be the most common type of depression.
- Adjustment disorder — happens when someone’s response to a major life event, such as the death of a loved one, causes symptoms of depression.”
Depression can be destructive in interpersonal relationships generating withdrawal, blame, a lack of intimacy, poor communication, dependency on others, or feelings of inadequacy and anger.
Husbands, lovers, children and friends become enablers, and often unwilling, caregivers. Accommodating and meeting the demands of a clingy, negative, depressed spouse or a loved one is exhausting; compassion fatigue is common.
Depression – Deal With It
Depression is not something to be ignored. Not only does it attack your sense of self-worth and well-being, depression can cause severe physical symptoms as well. Patient complaints include painful body aches, elevated blood pressure, strokes, heart arrhythmia, migraine headaches, and diarrhea and stomach distress.
HealthLine.com reports, “As if depression weren’t bad enough, statistics show that diagnoses are growing at an alarming rate. In addition, states with higher rates of depression also show high rates of other negative health outcomes, such as obesity, heart disease, and stroke. Individuals suffering from depression are more likely to be unemployed or recently divorced than their non-depressed counterparts, and women experience greater risk of depression than men. Despite all of these statistics on depression, studies show that many people suffer symptoms of depression without seeking care and that undiagnosed depression costs the U.S. millions of dollars each year. Now a global health issue, depression awareness, diagnosis, and treatment are matters of crucial significance in building a healthier, happier world.”
While there are no medical tests that confirm depression, like there are for diabetes or a thyroid condition, a candid talk with your physician is in order. If you are going through a stressful period in your life and think you might be depressed, talk to an understanding healthcare professional or counselor who will be able to ask the right questions to help determine if you are experiencing a period of sadness of whether you have depression; understanding the underlying cause of your depression may help you overcome the problem.
Take Care Of Yourself – You Are Worth It!
In addition to counseling and medications your doctor will likely encourage to get more exercise, stay well hydrated with at least 8 to 12 – 8oz. Glass of water daily in addition to other liquids in your diet, avoid alcohol and illicit drugs, quit smoking, lose weight, add more fresh fruits and vegetables to your food plan, and get outside and get some fresh air.
Medical studies show that many severely depressed people are deficient in vitamin D; sunshine is a great natural source of vitamin D.
Try to adopt an “Attitude of Gratitude!” Life, by its very nature, brings sadness, loss, and disappointments. Gratitude helps put your problems into perspective if you daily make a list of things in your life for which you are grateful.
You might say that’s so much honey hype! Wrong! No matter how desperate or pitiful your situation, you have many things to be grateful for: even if it’s your eyes that read these words. Stop dwelling on what’s wrong with your life; focus on what’s right. Empower yourself with positive affirmations; “What you think about you bring about.”
Depression is a real illness that demands medical intervention. Sadly, many depressed people “drown in their misery”; believing that requesting help is a sign of submission or weakness
Many people caught in the cycle of depression feel their feelings and thoughts aren’t important enough for others to care or just plain nobody else’s business. Still others are afraid to appear “crazy for seeing a therapist or taking medication to help manage their symptoms. Don’t be one of those people in denial! Depression hurts! With professional help, you can smile again and enjoy life.
Depression And Bi-Polar Support Alliance
- “Major depressive disorder affects approximately 14.8 million American adults or about 6.7 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older, in a given year. (Archives of General Psychiatry, 2005 Jun; 62(6): 617-27)
- While major depressive disorder can develop at any age, the median age at onset is 32. (U.S. Census Bureau Population Estimates by Demographic Characteristics, 2005)
- Major depressive disorder is more prevalent in women than in men. (Journal of the American Medical Association, 2003; Jun 18; 289(23): 3095-105)
- As many as one in 33 children and one in eight adolescents have clinical depression. (Center for Mental Health Services, U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, 1996)
- People with depression are four times as likely to develop a heart attack than those without a history of the illness. After a heart attack, they are at a significantly increased risk of death or second heart attack. (National Institute of Mental Health, 1998)”
Info graphic-Depression Statistics