By Tanya Glover
Into all lives a little ran must fall. And fall it does for everyone at one time or another. As emotional beings, we all get the occasional blues. This is a normal part of life. Maybe you have had a bad day or maybe you feel down for a reason we cannot quite put your finger on, but that does not qualify us for the diagnosis of depression. Depression is a deep feeling of sadness that does not go away on its own. This sadness affects all aspects our life; family life, social life, work life – everything. You may not want to take care of yourself, your family or your work responsibilities. It is more severe for some than it is for others. No matter how deep your problem with depression is, there are treatments available to help make your life better.
While not everyone who suffers from depression will have all of the symptoms, many have at least 2 or 3 of the most common ones. Also keep in mind that the signs and symptoms of depression vary from one person to another and that men, women and children may all show differing signs. This illness does not fit into a box but is rather in a broad spectrum.
ØPreoccupation with death or thoughts of suicide
ØNo appetite or increased appetite (Some people overeat when depressed and others cannot eat at all.)
ØIrrational feelings of guilt
ØTrouble concentrating and focusing
ØShort term memory problems
ØLoss of interest in things that used to hold meaning (work, hobbies, sex)
ØHeadaches, body aches, stomach issues (Emotional issues can manifest into physical problems for some people.)
Another factor in depression is that the person may have other conditions which have brought on depression that did not exist before or that have enhanced depression that already existed. For instance, if a person with an otherwise happy life finds out that they have HIV/AIDS then this would be an illness that may bring on depression. Someone already suffers from depression may find it getting worse once they are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Often times, someone who has a substance abuse problem also suffers from depression as well. The good news is that once treatment for depression begins, it can help with the other illnesses that go along with the depression.
Anyone, of any age/race/culture/gender, can suffer from depression. Many people do not realize that young children can become depressed in the same ways that adults can. There are many things in a child’s life that can become major stressors and cause them to feel depressed. This should be taken very seriously as children who develop depression are at high risk for also developing anxiety disorders and other issues that can affect them throughout their entire lives. And though anyone can become depressed, studies show that more women have depression then do men. This may be due to the fact that women are more emotional creatures or that men simply do not report their depression as much as women do. Many emotional issues in men do not get reported as they are much less likely to seek help then are women.
What Caused Depression
There are many reasons that people become depressed. There is clinical depression and situational depression. Clinical depression comes from chemical imbalances in our brains. Situational depression is directly connected to some event in our lives that makes us depressed.
ØDeath of a loved one
ØStress in general
ØAny other traumatic changes or events
When it comes to situational depression, almost anything in one’s life can cause it depending on the person and the importance of the event in their lives. Clinical depression, caused by chemical imbalance, can be something that is passed on through genetics. Both can be treated.
Treatment for Depression
Even the most severe cases of depression are treatable and the first step in getting treatment is talking with your doctor. They will either be able to help you themselves or point you in the right direction to get the help you need. This is a very important step as your doctor will be able to figure out if your symptoms are being caused by an underlying medical condition that needs to be treated in order to rid you of the depression symptoms. If the depression is in fact, a legitimate mental health issue, you may be referred to a mental health specialist for proper treatment. This will depend on the reason for and the severity of the depression. The most common treatments for depression are medications and therapy.
There are many types of therapeutic techniques that are highly beneficial for people with depression. The most common techniques are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Interpersonal Therapy (IPT). It is the opinion of some therapist that both of these techniques can be used in conjunction in order to benefit the client to the fullest. CBT is used to show people how to change their negative way of behaving and thinking. Through this process, they are shown how they contribute to their own depression. By doing this, they can begin to learn how to change the things that need changing in order to rid themselves of depression. IPT is a technique used to help the client understand the reasons for their depression and work through them. This type of therapy pinpoints the reason for the depression and helps the client to see how the situation has either made or contributed to their depression. This is a good form of talk therapy that allows the client to explore their lives and see what can be changed to help with their depression. While both IPT and CBT are beneficial for people with depression, it may not be enough. Many times it is necessary to mix therapy with medication. Research has shown that when used in conjunction with therapy, medication can be beneficial in keeping the depression away for good. This is true even after therapy is terminated and the medication continues. You may need to stay on the medication for the long term after the therapy is over, but this has shown to be very successful in way of treating people with depression, especially severe cases.
Antidepressants are the most commonly used medications for depression. These drugs serve to change a person’s mood, even though researchers do not know exactly why or how they work. All they know for sure is that they keep the neurotransmitters in the brain at the correct place to even out and balance a person’s mood. While antidepressants are effective in most cases, there are side effects for some. (Some people have no negative side effects and some do. So it is important to monitor yourself when you first begin taking the medication. If one does not do well for you then your doctor can try something else.) Some of the most common side effects of antidepressants are:
ØDrowsiness (moderate to severe)
If any of these symptoms persist or bother you enough to where you simply stop taking the medication it is time to see your doctor. There are other drugs to try that may work better and you should never stop taking this sort of drug suddenly. Many of them require the patient to be weaned off as stopping altogether my make the depression return tenfold.
The Light at the End of the Tunnel
If you or a loved one suffers from depression and are doing so in silence, please know that you do not have to hoe this row alone. Depression is one of the most common illnesses in the world and the treatments are typically effective. There is no reason to feel ashamed of being depressed and needing help as you are not the first one, the last one or even one in a million who suffers from this illness. Billions have felt the cold fingers of depression and have found warmth and light through treatment and family support. One of these people can be you.
Christie Hunter is registered clinical counselor in British Columbia and co-founder of Theravive. She is a certified management accountant. She has a masters of arts in counseling psychology from Liberty University with specialty in marriage and family and a post-graduate specialty in trauma resolution. In 2007 she started Theravive with her husband in order to help make mental health care easily attainable and nonthreatening. She has a passion for gifted children and their education. You can reach Christie at 360-350-8627 or write her at christie - at - theravive.com.