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Depression

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Depression happens to everyone from time-to-time. Breaking up with a boyfriend, losing a family pet, not receiving that much-anticipated promotion can all effect emotions.  The old saying which goes “Money buys happiness?”  Don’t believe it.

In her book On The Edge of Darkness, author Kathy Cronkite explores the many stages of depression that plague the famous and the not-so-famous. Conversations with people such as Kitty Dukakis, Rod Steiger, Dick Clark, and the daughter of John Belushi all point to major bouts of depression affecting them.

It used to be believed that people who were depressed were thought to be controlled by evil spirits. When church exorcisms failed to lift the “spirits” other alternatives or treatments were eventually sought. 

Today, depression is known as a whole-body disease. Someone who is depressed expects failure in their lives. This type of thinking if it goes untreated can result in failure even in suicide.

What are the types of depression?

Manic Depression

Manic Depression has evolved into the now familiar term bipolar disorder.
Bipolar disorder is a cyclic disease that brings periods of manic behavior (high energy, scattered thoughts, rapid fire responses, high strung behavior) and then a deep depressive state.

When a person is in a manic state of depression, they will do things which others consider foolish, dangerous, ridiculous or absurd without one cognitive thought regarding the consequences of their actions. It is during this time that quick intervention is prudent, professional help should be sought out by loved ones. Psychiatric evaluation or hospitalization should also be considered necessary.

It contains the most extreme form of depression. The thought patterns are so abnormal. The person experiences the highest of highs, and then plummets to the lowest of lows.

In the beginning stages of manic depression the euphoria is such that the person has clarity of thought accompanied by the feeling that he/she can do anything in the world performing it perfectly.

The need for sleep is diminished and on this unnatural high, the person will work feverishly to accomplish near impossible goals.

As the disease progresses, the thoughts become so fast they clutter the brain to the point that all reason is left behind. In order to keep up with his/her thoughts speech becomes rapid, accelerating as the disease makes it way through the brain.

If alcohol or illegal drugs are used, the person places himself at great risk. Not only does the manic depression impair thinking patterns, but alcohol and illegal drugs further muck up the works.

Illicit affairs are explored, dangerous habits develop; all inhibitions are cast aside. The person no longer cares about taking care of himself. Hygiene is avoided, food isn’t necessary and sleep is an afterthought. Violent behavior can occur, suicide attempted as the body grows quickly out of control. Excessive clubbing, shopping sprees, gambling, dangerous sports are attempted at a frantic pace. 
Some people who are suffering with manic rightfully believe they are going insane. Hallucinations and delusions are common.

In the beginning stages of manic depression the period between the high euphoric portion of the disease and the crashing depressive state is only a matter of about a week.

If the person doesn’t seek professional help, or a loved one or concerned friend doesn’t intervene, the extreme behavior remains for longer periods of time.

The person is then caught up in the cycle of these extremes with almost no hope of full recovery.

Only with a balanced treatment program of antidepressants and therapy can manic be handled.

Depression
Depression

Postnatal Depression

Postnatal depression generally occurs about four weeks after childbirth. However, postnatal depression can suddenly descend on women after childbirth for up to a year. It affects up to 10-15% of mothers every year. It can also affect 10% of fathers.

It affects each women differently. There is no set pattern for the symptoms of postnatal depression:

  • Sadness
  • Feeling unworthy to be mother
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Irritability
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Physical symptoms can be headaches, fatigue and shortness of breath
  • Crying jags
  • Obsessive thoughts
  • Repetitive thoughts
  • Excessive worry
  • Feeling numb and out of control
  • Abusing drugs or alcohol in an attempt to gain control of your life
  • Dark thoughts about harming yourself or your baby
  • Disruptive sleep patterns
  • Feeling that life is spiraling out of control
  • Feeling that your life is over
  • Limbs feel like they are asleep

In the now infamous trial recently concluded of Andrea Yates, Ms. Yates drowned her five children while her husband was at work. After three days and 12 hours of deliberation, the jury returned the verdict of Not Guilty by reason of insanity. The insanity defense stood strong claiming that postnatal depression along with a long history of depression drove Ms. Yates to commit this act.

Make no mistake about it, postnatal depression is a real disease. The most severe form of this disease postnatal psychosis takes no prisoners.

This baby blue stage is thought to be linked to the dramatic hormonal changes taking place in mothers during the first year of childbirth.

Mothers whose babies do not sleep throughout the night, often become plagued with self-doubt as their internal clock and chemistry are set off kilter.

Are single mothers more at risk at developing postnatal depression?

Currently there are no studies out indicating that single mothers are more at risk. Certainly mothers who are isolated all day with their infant, or women who are stressed, have undergone a bad birthing experience carry more of a risk for developing postnatal depression. But no one really knows the true cause of postnatal depression. Mothers, who have battled bouts of depression in their lives, show a higher risk factor to develop this disease.

Treatment is available and postnatal depression can be cured. Find someone you trust to talk you through the bad points. Talk to your family doctor about drugs to even up your mood (consider what drugs you should take if you are breastfeeding).

Even though at times, thoughts become dark when suffering from postnatal depression, with proper treatment there exists hope for escape.

Clinical Depression

Clinical depression is a severe form of depression. The sadness, it brings overwhelms threatening too drown you in emotion. You suddenly find you cannot perform the simplest of tasks; writing a grocery list, taking your child to soccer practice are jobs you cannot possibly comprehend.
 
It is a lasting depression. It can hang on for weeks, months, even years.

Over 19 million Americans suffer from clinical depression. Half the suicides that take place in America can be traced back to people suffering from bouts of clinical depression.

It is common in people suffering from Multiple Sclerosis, Lou Gehrig’s disease or Huntington’s disease.

The symptoms of clinical depression are the same for severe depression or manic depression:

  • Your ability to function in your everyday world ceases.
  • You are caught in the grip of paralyzing fear.
  • You worry incessantly about everything.
  • Your performance at works drops off.
  • Your sleep pattern is disrupted.
  • You avoid contact with family and friends, preferring to hide away in a darkened room where you unsuccessfully try to manage your thoughts.
  • You experience significant weight loss or other eating disorders.
  • You cannot concentrate.
  • You feel worthless and insignificant.

To be diagnosed with clinical depression these symptoms must last for at least a two week period.

If these symptoms are brought on by substance abuse, then you are not a victim of clinical depression. You are a substance abuser and you should seek help immediately at a detox center.

If you have recently lost a loved one, or are schizophrenic, chances are your clinician will not diagnose you as having clinical depression.

It is also referred to as Major Depressive Disorder. Hallucinations can occur and suicidal thoughts are common.

 If professional help is avoided, suicide can become the final answer for those overwhelmed by this disease. It is a reactive depression, responding to stress in someone’s life, major life changes, death of a child or relative and other traumatic events. This means that while you are in clinical depression should any of these events occur, your depression can plummet even further.

There are tests found online that you can take to determine if you are clinically depressed.  Seek professional help, contact your doctor, talk to a trusted friend.

Self-help and support groups are ready and willing to help you take control of a life seemingly out of control. When there is help, there is also hope.

Teen Depression

Young children especially teenagers can develop depression. It is in adolescents is not always easy to spot.

It hides in symptoms such as; eating disorders, learning disabilities, acting out, becoming reclusive or experimenting with drugs or alcohol.

Over 5% of teenagers kill themselves every year. The cause of the suicides can be linked back to depression.

Peer pressureparental pressure, the search for perfection to be momma’s perfect little girl, to be the prettiest, the smartest the most popular in the school can all lead to depression.   Being obese or skinny, unable to excel academically or physically, being the victim of sexual abuse, becoming pregnant can lead many teenagers quickly into depression.

For young girls their first experience with menstrual blues and hormone activity can sink them into a cyclic depression. This is known as PMS (premenstrual syndrome).

Depression is common in teenagers with parents abuse substances.

Eating disorders are common among teen girls. Taking control of what you eat, or what you don’t, when your own life is out of control creates a dangerous form of false security.

One woman that I spoke with admitted that when she was growing up and her parents would develop a “stony silence” in the house, she would drive to the fast-food restaurant down the street, order four large hamburgers, two large orders of fries, three apple pies, a soda and a chocolate shake.

Then, she would drive around to the back of an abandoned gas station nearby, park and gulp down all the food.

She shamefully admits today, that she never even tasted what she was eating. She dumped the trash (evidence) in a dumpster then drove home.

Once she arrived home, she went to the bathroom, turned on the water in the shower and the sink, wet her finger and purged.

She later paid dearly for her actions as she matured. The stomach acid eventually ate away her esophagus. Extensive surgery was needed to repair the damage. She was tube-fed for several months after surgery as she “healed.”

Some teenagers suffer from low self-esteem which can cause depression. Others act out in various ways, while teens suffering from manic will  hurt themselves by burning or cutting their skin in unexposed areas.

Medical treatment is available. If you know someone with any of the above symptoms, intervene now and save a life from dealing with lifelong bouts of major depression.

Seasonal depression

Can be treated with different lighting throughout the home.

Major Depression

The most severe form of depression, one that cannot be easily overcome.

Dysthymic Disorder

A longer form of depression that is resistant to treatment and clings to the victim tenaciously.

Unspecified Depression

Another term for depression when there is no specific reason to be depressed.

Adjustment Order with Depression

Reactions to major stress in your life or life-changes.

Eating Disorders

Anorexia and Bulimia- starving yourself in order to gain acceptance, or overeating in secret, and then purging your system.

The symptoms of depression

According to the National Institute of Mental Health 1 in 20 Americans (over 20 million people) suffer with some form of depression. In Australia its about 5% of the general adolescent population.

It is not something that you can just “get over.” You have to work through it, determine the cause of your depression and seek help to overcome it.

How do you know you are depressed?

Below are some of the more common symptoms..

  • Are you feeling depressed?
  • Are you irritable?
  • Are you moody?
  • Has your sleep pattern changed?
  • Are you obsessed with food?
  • Do you feel numb?
  • Do you have clarity of mind?
  • Can you focus?
  • Are you fatigued?
  • Do you have low self-esteem?
  • Have you recently lost a loved one or a pet?
  • Is it difficult for you to make decisions?
  • Do you feel hopeless?
  • Can you take charge of a situation?
  • Do you feel worthless?
  • Are you empty inside?
  • Do you feel anxious?
  • Are you guilt-ridden?
  • Can you manage stress?
  • Are you excessively shy?
  • Do you avoid people?
  • Do you avoid eating?
  • Have you lost the ability to take charge?
  • Do you take risks?

If you have answered yes to more than five of these questions, then you are suffering from some form of depression.

Everyone gets depressed, that is just life in general. But when you are crippled by your depression, then you suffer from what is known as severe depression. You need professional help.

Some people cannot acknowledge they are depressed. There exists a term for this: that term is denial.

If you know a friend or loved one who is battling with it yet denying its existence, you need to intervene with the help of a crisis counselor, a family doctor, or a close, personal friend. Don’t ignore the symptoms. It can be cured with the right treatment programs and there are many available today.

What causes depression?

Depression is a disease that affects the entire body. Your body chemistry changes when you are depressed. This alters your every mood and emotion.

It is a disease without prejudice as it can afflict anyone at any time.  It is known to be hereditary. Women are affected by depression more than men are. Or perhaps, women are prone to discuss their feelings more than men are.

Dealing with life-changes unsuccessfully can cause depression, the loss of a loved one, the death of a child, a divorce, a missed job opportunity, financial problems, food concerns, obsession with weight and looks, not having the appropriate coping skill to accept rejection gracefully.

After having a child, many women enter into Post-Partum Depression. Being with the wrong life-partner, dealing with Post- Traumatic Stress Disorder, being an abuse victim all of these things have the ability to sink someone into depression.

Dealing with depression

One of many ways to deal with depression is listed below

  • Join a support group.
  • See a doctor or a psychiatrist/psychologist.
  • Talk to your school counselor or close friend.
  • Go online to reputable websites that deal with mental disorders.
  • Talk to your parents.
  • Talk to your clinician about antidepressants.
  • Seek holistic means to ease depression such as St. John’s Wort or Valerian.
  • For severe cases consider ECT (shock therapy).
  • Identify the source of your depression and work to overcome it.
  • Seek help at a depression treatment center.

Instead of asking, what causes? Perhaps the better question would be: What DOESN’T.

Treatment for Depression

Among the traditional treatments for depression (antidepressants) are some methods that don’t include pharmaceutical drugs.

Yoga

Yoga is a Hindu discipline.  The process is spiritual, mental and physical putting you in touch with your mind and body while teaching you how to control both.

Meditation

Meditation is learning the discipline of how to relax your mind and get in touch with your inner being. By focusing on one subject, chanting a mantra, your mind becomes devoid of thought and you are calm and focused.

Self Hypnosis

Taught by a qualified therapist, self-hypnosis can help you take control of your mind and your body. Creating a “safe place” within yourself, a control room, you will be able to turn off and on the emotions that currently rule your life. This process should not be taught from a self-help tape or a book, but with a therapist that is certified in the art of hypnosis.

Hypnosis

Guided by a board certified Hypnotist; you can be led to a trance-like state and be given certain instructions to help clear your mind. With the right tools and the proper guidance, you can be reprogrammed to reject feelings of helplessness, frustration and loss and become focused into another area that is positive and optimistic.

Hormone Replacement Therapy

Used in women only, this type of therapy only works in certain patients. Sometimes, using HRT, the patient will experience a deeper depression. Your doctor should be consulted fully before you decide to try this method.

Psychotherapy

known as talking through depression, the mental health counselor will listen and instruct you how to deal with the depression when it hits. Be sure the counselor is fully licensed and board certified.

ECT

Electroconvulsive Therapy is used in extreme cases of severe depression. Generally when the patient is claiming suicide is the answer, or the person who’s suffering from depression mania. Electrodes are attached to the patient and electric current shocks the brain, thus halting the destructive behavior patterns.

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