Depression is a serious disease. It can keep you from a normal experience of your everyday, it can make you unable to enjoy much of anything and it can become unbearable and lead to suicide. In fact, eighty to ninety percent of all depression can be treated. Get treated and get normal emotions, normal energy, normal sleep. It’s really worth it.
Many people just put up with depression. Sometimes it is because they don’t know they have something that can be ‘fixed,” or they think the only help is medication and they don’t want to use drugs (see Can depression be treated without drugs?). Some people are too emotionally down and have little energy on top of that to take any action to help themselves; they are literally too depressed to get help. If you know someone like that, get involved. At some point they will thank you. If you think you might have depression, take the time to read below and then take the time to do something important for yourself: get professional help! The self evaluation for depression or the Booklet on Depression from the National Institute of Mental Health should help add clarification.
If you find yourself thinking about suicide – seek help immediately.
You don’t need to suffer and you certainly don’t need to risk ending your life for something that you can change.
Three Kinds of Depression
There are different levels of severity and several different types of depression but in my experience it is useful to think of three general kinds of depression. Biochemical depression, situational depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder. These categories are not mutually exclusive, someone may suffer from one or any combination of all three. Depression may occur only once, it may be episodic and occur several times in a lifetime or it may become a general persistent state.
Biochemical depression varies in severity. Commonly this type of depression is characterized by symptoms that interfere with productivity at work, the ability enjoy life or normal functions such as sleeping, eating or routing tasks. Clinical studies have shown that the best treatment in this case is a combination of psychotherapy and medication. In my own experience some of my clients have also benefited from psychotherapy in combination with acupuncture, spiritual practice or homeopathy. In cases of severe depression I strongly encourage people to try medication which should be prescribed by a knowledgeable psychiatrist as opposed, for example, to a family physician.
Another category of depression is called situational depression. This mood disturbance comes from a reaction to a specific, external situation or stress, such as a loss or significant life change. Examples of this kind of situation include retirement, loss or change of employment, getting married or the end of a relationship or marriage, death of a loved one, serious illness or a traumatic experience such as an accident, disaster or being the victim of a crime. These events can trigger the symptoms of depression, such as hopelessness, pessimism, loss of interest, difficulty concentrating, fatigue and decreased energy, overeating or loss of appetite, anxiety, insomnia or even thoughts of suicide.
Psychotherapy and over the counter supplements, aerobic exercise, eating right, as well as holistic medicine can definitely make a difference with these depressions. Unlike clinical depression situational depression is a reaction to an outside stress and usually goes away once a person has adapted to the situation.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Seasonal Affective Disorder effects about 5% of the population, especially in the norther part of the country. People are effected to differing degrees at different times. Most often it is winter depression, although some people get depressed in the summer in reaction to too much light. Using a light box in the winter or sunglasses in the summer are both fairly easy solutions to what can be disabling condition. I find many people don’t take this seriously and miss a chance to feel good through all the seasons. Get your self checked out if you think this could be going on with you. There is more information about SAD and its diagnosis on the SAD Association Website.
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