Depression Doesn’t Rock- Part one of three

Many of us get depressed at some point in our lives. Just like people come in all types of shapes, sizes and colors, depression can be viewed in the same way. What I may describe as feeling depressed may be a bit different from your own brand, but there are similarities across the board.

Four people come to mind when I think of the faces of depression. Their descriptions don’t encompass all types, so if you have something to add, please do, there’s a comment section at the end of this blog entry.

First off, there’s Sleepy Stan. His kids have been trying to get him to test out their scooters at the park on Saturday afternoon. He waves them away because he’s tired. He would prefer to hang out on the sofa with a pillow over his head. Stan promised to get up. Later. His wife hopes when he does that he’ll take a shower this time. Up to now, he’s still managing to get to work but his family misses Saturdays at the park. They haven’t taken an evening walk for ice cream cones all season. The reality is that Stan misses his family too. He can’t seem to get a move on as much as he’d like to and it makes him feel even worse.

Then there’s Famished Frances. She’s been eating a lot more than usual. Her appetite has taken off and she gazes in dismay at the scale she’s finally had the nerve to stand on. Franny’s also a worrier. She’s up at night thinking about her problems, large and small. At first she feels better making those Dagwood sandwiches. They kind of fill that empty space in the middle of her belly and she stops worrying. But then, a few minutes later, she’s worrying again. This time her concerns include how much weight she’s gained and her fear that she’ll never be able to stop eating. Franny seems to remember her mom and her aunt doing the same thing when she was little and wonders if it runs in the family.

How many of you know Irritable Ivan? He’s pissed and he’s just not the same guy you used to know. Everything you say to Ivan seems to rub him the wrong way. He’s annoyed at his brother-in-law who got him tickets for the game, but didn’t tell him he had to pay for his hot dogs. He’s starting to get agitated a lot and has begun to pace. Ivan thinks he’s mad at his wife but then again, it might be all those people on the train who’ve annoyed him today. He really doesn’t like feeling this way. In fact, his boss told him he should consider taking a few days off so he could cool down.

 Melancholy Mona sits in her dark living room. Her partner, Lisa, told her that the least she could do was put the lights on. When she said that, Mona started crying again. Everything seems to push her into a puddle of tears. She wasn’t always like that. It seems like such a long time since she felt good about herself. So long, that she’s been thinking scary thoughts. Mona is almost certain that no one cares about how sad she feels. She’s started to think that maybe it would be better if she weren’t even around. Lisa made an appointment for Mona to talk to their family doctor. She said that she needs help- professional help.

Do you relate? Sometimes we find ourselves experiencing life the way Stan, Ivan, Franny and Mona have been. It could be just a matter of needing a break from the world; it could be a lot of things. It might actually be a thyroid problem or some other medical illness. Depression can be serious and you might want to take a look at it. The following are bonafide signs and symptoms of depression that are found in the DSM-IV TR, the bible of psychiatry.

See if some of what you’re feeling fits in the following list.

–          Feeling depressed most of the day, everyday.

–          Less interested in activities, a loss of feeling of pleasure

–          Significant weight loss or weight gain- maybe 5% in a month

–          Difficulty sleeping at night or sleeping just too doggone much

–          Feeling agitated or slowed down

–          Fatigue or loss of energy

–          Feeling worthless, excessive or inappropriately guilty

–          Have problems concentrating, thinking and indecisiveness

–          Thinking about death, not just dying but suicidal thoughts- with or without plans to do yourself in and having intention to take action.

Sometimes, the depressed person is the last to see their symptoms. They might be blaming themselves for whatever it is they’re feeling and not realize that it’s symptoms of depression. It is probably not something they can just shake off.

If you believe that you may be experiencing some of the items on the list you should consider talking to a professional. It wouldn’t hurt. Your doc can evaluate you or send you to a mental health professional. Don’t depend on your best friend or great aunt Maggie who suffered from depression a decade ago. You deserve talking to a professional.

Next week, I plan to blog about what to expect when you do see a mental health professional. The following week, I’ll blog about different treatments for depression. Stay tuned. In the meantime, lift up those roman shades and let the sun pour into your living room, maybe take a nice walk…

Tell me what you would like to know about depression. I’d also love to hear helpful strategies that you might be aware of!

Here are some other sites that will give you information on depression:

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression/complete-index.shtml

http://www.webmd.com/depression/default.htm

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