Occasionally we all experience moments of sadness. It’s a normal reaction to life’s struggles, frustrations, setbacks and loss. These moments are brief and life returns to normal eventually. When that sadness does not alleviate over time but instead more days are spent feeling down, joyless or empty then it is depression. It interferes with the individuals ability to work, eat, sleep and have fun.
Living with depression is like living on the other side of a glass wall. While the rest of the world moves busily around sufferers with depression can only watch feeling separated and out of reach. It’s important for them to understand that the wall is not solid and it is not unbreakable.
If you identify with several of the following signs and symptoms, and they just won’t go away, you may be suffering from clinical depression.
- you can’t sleep or you sleep too much
- you can’t concentrate or find that previously easy tasks are now difficult
- you feel hopeless and helpless
- you can’t control your negative thoughts, no matter how much you try
- you have lost your appetite or you can’t stop eating
- you are much more irritable, short-tempered, or aggressive than usual
- you’re consuming more alcohol than normal or engaging in other reckless behavior
- you have thoughts that life is not worth living (seek help immediately if this is the case)
Depression IS an illness
There’s much about the brain we understand but there is also an enormous amount we don’t. We could debate semantics whether Depression is a disease or a disorder. Until science catches up with what we see daily we must consider it as a very real, debilitating, and potentially deadly illness. The disadvantage of a mental illness is not only can we not see how the brain works, not really, but the brain is more than a sum of its parts. People are more complex then, say the heart pumping blood. If an artery gets clogged the surgeon can act to rectify the problem area. Not so with the mind. You can’t resolve it by cutting out the offending area. You have to fight illnesses of the mind with the mind.
One of the main problems with mental illness is that is prevents you from behaving or thinking “normally.” Many sufferers and loved ones of sufferers have anguished over the “why.” They had so much to be happy about. You can look at Robin Williams and see a man gifted with humor, who gave happiness to so many. He was richly talented yet suffered with depression.
Depression has been given a great deal of exposure. There is still, however, a lot of misunderstanding about Depression and stigma attached to it. Clinical Depression could really use a new terminology. The current everyday usage has been applied to both feeling a little sad to a genuine debilitating mood disorder. The misunderstanding does little to help those who need help to get it. Everyone feels down now and again, right, so you’ll get over it. Even the experts can’t agree as to how best to treat it. Many psychiatrists confidently approach treatment with medication while other experts warn of the dangers these medications can cause.
We are moving closer to accurately identifying physical culprits which will aid in the treatment of Depression. A new test that identifies particular molecules in the blood could help doctors diagnose patients with clinical depression, according to a new study published in the journal Translational Psychiatry. The blood test can also predict which therapies would be most successful for patients, and lays the groundwork for one day identifying people who are especially vulnerable to depression -- even before they’ve gone through a depressive episode.
Challenging the Mind
Until that day when modern medicine can deal directly with Depression alternative methods are the best treatment we have. Therapy is well known and certainly has been effective depending on the individuals involved. But therapy can be costly and for the millions of sufferers may not be the most accessible or immediate approach. Our hope at the Ed Lally Foundation is to provide other tools to help those who need it to afford them some stability, hope and self-empowerment. These resources are free or at minimum cost and can help provide some relief when used daily. The take-away is that these daily mental exercises may at the very least help interrupt the pattern of thinking that progressively beat down and exhaust. By challenging the destructive thoughts, re-thinking the depressive mindset the mind day-by-day the hope is one day they won’t be exercises but naturally occurring cognitions.