- Mental Health
Depression in the Family
Who knows how far or how deep depression runs in any family. In my family, my Mom was depressed. My Dad was a physician who graduated from medical school in 1971. From either his education or personal experience, he believed unless someone was bouncing off the walls with schizophrenic symptoms, they just needed more exercise. He often thought my Mom should just try harder and go swimming or on a run to make herself feel happier.
For most of life during elementary, middle and high school years, when returning from school, my Mom was in her bed with the drapes pulled. Over the years, people asked if empty bottles were found around the house, suggesting that she was drinking at home. Never found any bottles and never saw her imbibe any alcohol EVER. She had lots of opportunities but was a teetotaler.
Regularly, she thought she probably would die. In early years, she would cry and hope for this outcome. It happened with such frequency, we started taking her comments with a grain of salt. The real particulars of how she would die always remained elusive. None of us understood that this was part of her depression.
When my Dad got home from work at night, he would want to know how my Mom spent her day. He then would turn to us, his two kids, and say she was lazy. He had such confidence in his delivery, and a medical occupation, which when combined appeared to be the facts.
Symptoms of Depression
Symptoms of Depression are hard to diagnose when you are living them. A professional will have no problem when you describe your thoughts and experiences. Some of these symptoms might include feeling annoyed, intolerant of others, not interested in social activities, and overall hopelessness.
Depression is like any disorder such as a rash, or allergy. It creeps up on you and grabs you without your consent. Once you are in the throws of it, it is hard to feel like doing anything about it because it consumes you. However, if you can tell that the quality of your life has sunk to an all time low, there is no specific situation that has occurred recently that you can attribute this to, then you need professional assistance. If your eyes are puffy beyond recognition for a week or a rash is annoyingly itchy, do you try to solve these issues by yourself? Do you believe a medical professional could help? If you are smart, then you know the value of working with someone who is specialized in this area and know that you can only ask your friends for so much advice.
Choices with Depression
At this intersection, you have many choices and should do your research. Western Medicine probably has the largest number of people to find with this sort of focus. However, if you want something different, it might be worth considering Chinese medicine, herbalists, shamans, Yogi’s, and any number of possibilities. However, if you want some sort of relief with studies that support their findings, then a psychiatrist or a person with a masters in social work are good places to start.
Once you are to the point where you recognize that a mental professional could be really helpful, realize that psychiatry is littered with people who actually need help themselves, but have decided that helping others is their calling. Fortunately, there are also the reliable types who listen, empathize, and gives helpful suggestions. The reason to bring this up is that if you do not like the first person you meet with, do not go back. Find someone you trust, who you feel understands your troubles and do not settle for anything less. Life is too short to have a bad therapist. This is probably a bumper sticker saying somewhere.
Treatment for Depression
Over the years, several thousands of dollars have been spent on therapists and most of them were great. The first professional I saw, was during my first semester in college, about three weeks after school started, my Mom left my Dad, because she wanted a divorce after 23 years of marriage. It was hard being far from home and realizing that what was home, no longer existed. School had never been a super high interest up to this point, but this situation added to my distraction. The college’s health clinic put me in touch with a professional, that would ask me one question at the beginning of the session, look at her clock frequently, and hoped I would give her a 49 minute explanation of every thought and feeling that had occurred between then and the previous visit. This is not an acceptable professional. If you are there for help, then they need to be engaged and focused. Good ones act like they are anxious waiting to hear the next thing you want to share and are full of helpful questions to get to you to learn about yourself and the situation.
About five years after this experience, my Dad died suddenly and my undiagnosed, mentally ill brother wanted to have me arrange for him to stay with some wealthy friends. It was an awkward situation, but I realized it was affecting me far more deeply then it would the average person. It was at this point, after asking around for suggestions, I met a woman who diagnosed my depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and gave insights into the way this type of brain works. It was liberating realizing the symptoms that had popped up as early as 12 or 13 years old, but I never really understood, had a diagnosis. She understood the challenges and taught me how to stop my thoughts and recognize depressive symptoms.
Don't lose hope while depressed
The hardest thing with depression is the lack of hope. In many cultures it is not ok to be too honest with how we are feeling, but if you get to the point where you want to die, you need to let your friends and family know. When these thoughts occur, it is no longer something you should be stoic about and keep from others. The choices we make in one second can change things forever and it is better to not make those short term decisions. Suicide is a long term solution to a short term problem. You do not want to do this.
If you can't find a professional or the right treatment, find a free hotline, go online for support and most importantly, share how you are feeling and what you are thinking with the people closest to you. Give them a chance to help you get the help you need.
Between the Economy, layoffs, wars, relationships, finances and health to name a few reasons, many people are not feeling like themselves. It is important that you know you are not alone with these feelings and that it is a good idea to let these feelings be known to someone. Do not carry the sadness around because it is not good for your physical or mental health. In times of depression, it has been proven that our brains atrophy.
Scientists study the mysteries of the brain with a hope of developing more understanding and better therapies. They know more about the role of specific vitamins and minerals on the brains function and therefore how to add when the problem is depletion. Many pharmaceutical companies are constantly developing new chemical treatments for the biology of the brain. However, there are still many mysteries that remain about the brain.
It has been proven that exercise can help with mood. It is important when feeling down that you be gentle with yourself and continue to read about solutions. There are options for everyone suffering and keep on looking until you are back to being your full, normal self.
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