Face To Face With Depression
Depressed or Just Unhappy?
30 million Americans have some sort of a depressive illness. What has happened to our society when more than 10% of the population is depressed?
What Causes Depression?
In a world where there's the Internet, computers, sports, entertainment, and various other things to occupy our time, why are there so many unhappy people?
On reason could be...happiness doesn't come from things.
There are a variety of problems at the center of depression. The things that we think makes us happy only provides a temporary diversion from the core problems that exist. Problems have a way of resurfacing and they bring all the crazy emotions with them. The cycle of diverting them and having them resurface can become exhausting in itself.
Can you really overcome depression or is managing it as good as it gets?
These and other questions is what we want to address, and it's truly difficult because the answers are different for everyone. My hurt is not your hurt, my pain is not your pain, and there's no one answer that fits everyone.
In the next segment we will look at two forms of depression - emotional and chemical imbalance.
Emotional depression comes from feelings. Some type of inner expression that triggers negative feelings which is called "depression."
The Difference Between Negative Feelings and Depression
You have to distinguish the difference between normal, negative feelings and depression.
Many things can trigger a negative response. It can be bad news, someone cutting you off in traffic, a news story on TV, any number of things rub us the wrong way.
Grieving - death or illness are very good reasons to grieve. This is normal and people need that time to work through their emotions.
We get into that condition called depression, when a person can't let go of the negative thoughts or the thoughts can't let go of the person. This build up of emotions, over time, is known as "chronic depression." Since this is usually a slow process, a person many times cannot recognize they are slipping into a depressive state-of-mind.
There are people that always seem negative but are not depressed. Then you have people that are depressed but seem to have positive attitudes. It's a very difficult disease to mange because of the emotions involved.
People can hide their emotions to a certain level but a true signal of depression is when functionality suffers. A negative person can still function and complete their daily routines, but a person suffering from depression finds it difficult to do simple tasks. It takes an awful lot of energy for a depressed person to do simple tasks; it's as though the life is sucked out of them.
In this next segment we will look at what happens when a person has chemical imbalances causing depression.
How to Manage Depression
- Overcoming Depression
Get more information about depression, signs and symptoms. Overcoming is a keyword here, learning more about depression is where you need to start.
Chemical imbalances may be an even more severe form of depression, because it causes radical mood swings.
Bipolar depression is considered one of the more severe forms of depression due to symptoms of extreme behavior. One day you will be off the charts with excitement, your self-esteem will be sky high, and then the next you will be anti-social, withdrawn.
Bipolar depression is dangerous because of these extremes. These extremes can breed extreme actions that can be damaging to you and others. This type of depression can go on for days and weeks, it wears a person down mentally which can also lead to physical health problems.
One 'medical' cause of depression often given is the overproduction of stress hormones.
The hormonal imbalances related to depression are to do with our natural reactions to stress, and stress and depression are certainly linked. But does this hormonal imbalance actually cause depression?
It is true that depressed people often have increased levels of stress hormones in their bloodstream (3), but again, this is a symptom, not a cause.
When you ruminate, or introspect in a negative way, you create emotional arousal that causes the release of stress hormones. That night, in REM (dream sleep), you become emotionally aroused again as dreaming 'flushes out' the emotional arousal from your brain.
That is why depressed people have higher levels of stress hormones, and also why you can wake up feeling exhausted.
Clinical Depression is often said to be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, and this is what most drug treatments are based on.
Certainly in many cases, there is a reduction in the amount of certain neurotransmitters found (monoamines such as serotonin and norepinephrine) in depressed people.
The following tests are routine to the initial phase for evaluating depression. To be classified as a "major depressive" you will have to go through a much more extensive line of questioning.
- Physical exam. This may include measuring your height and weight; checking your vital signs, such as heart rate, blood pressure and temperature; listening to your heart and lungs; and examining your abdomen.
- Laboratory tests. For example, your doctor may do a blood test called a complete blood count (CBC) or test your thyroid to make sure it's functioning properly.
- Psychological evaluation. To check for signs of depression, your doctor or mental health provider will talk to you about your thoughts, feelings and behavior patterns. He or she will ask about your symptoms, and whether you've had similar episodes in the past. You'll also discuss any thoughts you may have of suicide or self-harm. Your doctor may have you fill out a written questionnaire to help answer these questions.
Doing a Self Analysis - it's not too hard to analyze yourself as far as diet goes. You can start by removing certain foods or liquids from your diet temporarily. Things such as sugars, caffeine, processed foods, the things that are not part of a balanced diet. Keep a log of any mood changes you have, good or bad, as you adjust your diet. Doing this for a month should give your body time to adjust and you should begin to see patterns in your logbook suggesting how particular foods affect your attitude.
Being human means you will have ups and downs. When we find ourselves stuck in the vortex of these cycles is when we become vulnerable to depression. Sometimes the solutions are easy and sometimes not, but as long as you keep searching for solutions you're on a positive track - and that's the track you want to stay on.