Depression Awareness* From Pamela Brewer

Monday, June 25, 2018
 
 
 
IF YOU ARE FEELING DEPRESSED RIGHT NOW -  here is a limited list of options you can reach out to:
(this list is NOT inclusive)

WHAT IS DEPRESSION?

Depression is one of the most common AND most treatable disorders affecting Americans today. There are many kinds of depression that affect people in different ways.  In general, depression is a persistent feeling of sadness that happens over a period of time and has effects on emotional, social, psychological, physical, mental aspect of one’s life. Often, the feeling can not be connected with a specific event that would explain the sadness or can be connected to a specific event, but the "sadness" lasts longer than would be anticipated (e.g. A person who continues to actively mourn the loss of a ten year ago relationship; the person who continually angers at the same intensity - at the missed job opportunity 2 years ago, etc.)  

WHO "GETS" DEPRESSION

Everyone is susceptible to depression – this includes children, adolescents, teens, adults, and older adults.
 If you grew up in a depressed household - be mindful.  You may have learned that depression is the norm.  It is not. 

You may have some/many of these experiences and while it may sound and feel like depression - there could also be a medical cause - NEVER TRY TO DIAGNOSE YOURSELF. Seek the consultation of a medical/mental health professional!


WHAT ARE POTENTIAL SIGNS/SYMPTOMS OF DEPRESSION?
 
While one does not have to experience all of the below symptoms in order to be diagnosed with depression - common symptoms across ages include:

Persistent feelings of sadness.
 Loss of interest in usual activities. 
Feeling the need to "hide" from others. 
Persistent feelings of worthlessness. 
Persistent feelings of guilt.
Changes in eating habits. 
Changes in sleeping habits.
 Difficulties with concentration. 
Difficulties with decision-making. 
Difficulties with thinking. 
Difficulties with memory.
Changes in sexual habits. 
Chronic anxiety.
 Suicide attempts.
Homicide attempts.
 Change in physical energy. 
Irritable, restless. 
Chronic physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment.
 Thoughts of suicide/suicidal gestures.
(Suicidal gestures can include seemingly sudden failure to follow medical routines)
Persistent feelings of shame.

CHILDREN/TEENS: (in addition to the above)

Unexplained anger/"temper tantrums"
 Emotionally unresponsive.
 Social withdrawal/withdrawal from school activities.
Cutting classes/ missed school. 
Sudden poor school performance. 
Drug/alcohol use. 
Running away. 

OLDER ADULTS: (+ the above)

Confusion 
Social withdrawal 
Loss of appetite 
Sleeping difficulties 


 WHAT SHOULD BE DONE IF DEPRESSION IS SUSPECTED:

Tell someone you trust. 
If you believe you might harm yourself right now - call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.
Get an evaluation from a mental health professional. 
Follow the treatment regimen prescribed.
 Let treating professional know how you are feeling.  This is not the time to hold secrets.

If you are prescribed and taking medication be sure you understand what to expect.
 
Be sure to let your treating professional(s) know what you beleive is working – what is not. 

REMINDERS:
If the sadness/depression is situation specific and goes away within a few days to two weeks – time, connecting with supportive friends/family, self-help books may all be useful and may be all that is needed.  
But! Checking in with your medical/mental health professional is still is useful step to take.

 If the feelings exceed two weeks in duration – get a medical/mental health evaluation. 

If you have suicidal thoughts, seek an evaluation immediately.  This is not the time to tell yourself you "shouldn't" have these thoughts - this is the time to use compassionate curiousity and seek assistance.  You deserve it.  It does help! You do not have to feel this way. Help is available.

 People do not choose to be depressed.

It is not someone’s "fault" if he/she is depressed. 

The worst advice to give is "snap out of it" or "just get over it"! If that were possible, it would have already been done! 

There are biological, chemical, environmental and social factors that can lead to depression. 


DEPRESSION IS VERY, VERY TREATABLE. 

Prepared by

Pamela Brewer, MSW, Ph.D., LCSW-C

*As with all the information/commentary etc. on this site - it is not intended to replace any work you might choose to do with a medical/mental health professional.  Rather, it is provided as an educational resource as you pursue your own self-compassionate curiousity and begin the powerful journey of emotional/mental health and well being. PB