Monday, July 7, 2014

Let's Talk About Depression


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            We talk a fair bit about economic depression on this website, as it helps to motivate many of us in terms of thinking about preparedness. Why shouldn't we ?  Even the ASPCA in our nearest town is offering adoptions of dogs and cats free for a limited time, with a completed and verified application.  Their waiving what can be a hundred dollar fee on an animal which is likely immunized, veterinarian checked, and may be spayed or neutered, is a sure sign that adoptions are down. Why are they down ?  Because people are very short of money.   However, I need to get back on track as this post is about Depression, as it afflicts human beings.

                Life is hard for most of us in the last few years. Of course, lack of money, inflation, lack of opportunities and fear for the future are not the only stressors and sorrows this life can hold.  However, long term financial stress can be especially difficult on men who most often have been raised with the idea that they bear most of the financial responsibilities for their families. Most of them feel that the predominance of the financial pressures are shouldered by them  Wives can try to soften this stress, by adjusting expenses, becoming more frugal, or getting a part time or full time job, but there is only so much one's spouse can do.  Men travel each day to a job in which it seems tougher to stay afloat.  Besides pressure to keep that job, many of them feel it's tougher to make ends meet than even a year ago.  Many of them went from eating lunch out each day, to taking a lunch from home, to skipping lunch some days because they don't really have enough food to take lunch and they don't feel comfortable enough at work to stop long enough to eat anyway. This doesn't help when they tell themselves they don't deserve to eat !

                No less that seven of our friends who are husbands have recently sought help for Depression.   This is important because men often choose to set their feelings and stressors aside as "not real" or "less important" than their wives or children's worries.  The fact that this many men all over the country all at once have admitted to needing help for Depression, indicates how many other men may likely be on the precipice.

                What is Depression ?    Depression is not just when a couple of things happen and you or your spouse are down for a couple of days until you make sense of it, and find a way to keep on working, keep on living and keep on moving.   Depression is when so many things, including little ones collect, that you reset to not being particularly upset, but not being happy either.  At first you may be grandly indifferent.  Then, the naturally occurring chemicals in our brains which maintain mood, stop producing these chemicals which maintain our moods, and they fall out of balance.  Then, we wind up in a chemical depression.   (The brain chemicals to which I am referring are dopamine,  serotonin, nor-epinephrine, and others.)  Think of it as a neurological "wagging of the dog".   Eventually, the circumstances that brought us to depression abate, but the brain chemical component leaves us stuck in a depression, enduring our lives, dreading our days, and eventually not even able to identify why we are stuck !

These are some of the signs and symptoms of Depression:

1. A change in appetite and/or a change in weight.   (Some people gain, others lose)

2. Unusual irritability or inappropriate anger.

3. Risky or reckless choices in someone who wasn't like that before.

4. Loss of interest in family traditions or activities he/she used to enjoy.

5. The giving away of precious items you thought he would never part with.

6. Self loathing or a new habit of putting onesself down.

7. Not keeping up with keeping his desk or workshop clean. The "Honey Do" list becoming hopelessly behind.

8. Less attention paid to personal grooming.

9. Much more or much less sleeping.   May go to bed early and wake up in the middle of the night unable to sleep again.

10.  New problems with concentration.

11. New problems with memory.

12. Negative thoughts centered around hopelessness and helplessness.    "We're all doomed !"

13. Hoping you don't live too much longer. (After all, you can't afford to retire, anyway)

14. Repeated negative thinking in excess of a true assessment of each situation to the point that this may be disordered thinking.

15. Depression may lead to considerations as to how we might end our lives, either by overt actions or passively, simply by not doing the things which are necessary for us to remain alive.

  Individuals may suffer most or just a few of the listing items above, and they may still be depressed.

               When our youngest son Daniel died suddenly at 12 1/2, I was chronically sorrowful, but I was not depressed.   My doctors watched me closely for depression, but I was fortunate that my path from that event including chronic sorrow for which I was able to move forward and plot activities which helped me to find meaning in the remainder of my life, while helping to support my other children and family with the loss too.. Other members of my family were depressed, and who could blame them ?  However, another event for which I do not receive the support I did then, could steer me into a Depression.    Depression does not always occur in proportion to the events in our lives.  Some of us endure terrible things and do not slip into Depression.   A few years later, a job loss for a job we were leaving anyway and didn't like, may cause us to fall into it.  Depression is not a weakness. It is a health potential for any one of us.

                If you are depressed or you recognize this in a loved one,   you need to see a physician.   There are a bevy of drugs which can be given for depression in the relative short term.    I do not agree with the idea of medicating people in the long term for depression, with a few notable exceptions.   I can tell you that short term carefully selected medications for someone who is depressed can help to resolve the brain chemical imbalance which accompanies depression, thus allowing the depressed individual the energy and clarity to begin to make changes in his or her life which allow a sustained move forward.  Many times, the resolution to the depression cannot happen without these  short term medications.   These do not have to be Zoloft or some of the more notable recent drugs.   Amitriptyline has been around for many years, and may be the only drug some people need.   This is a link to comparing antidepressants and the interventions which are also necessary.  Remember that a family physician as well as a psychiatrist is able to prescribe antidepressants.  Sometimes, a visit to one's family physician is all that is necessary.

                Remember to watch yourself for signs of depression.  Report to your spouse or your doctor if ever you think you may be suicidal.  Many people have had suicidal periods of time in their lives, if they are honest with you about it.  Keep an eye on your spouse and your children, especially in periods of time which include financial stress, unemployment, or underemployment.  Be there for your friends who are down when you can be.

                It's also important to recognize, manage and treat depression in the event that a potential financial collapse comes.  In such events we would need the clearest head possible in order to come through the event as well as our ancestors who lived through the Great Depression of the 1930s did.    We all have potential to suffer the illness of Depression, but we all have the potential to have it treated and to overcome its effects on our outlook and our thinking.

               Be kind to yourself and those you love....

Types of Depression

More on Dealing With Depression


mohave rat said...

good article! Ms Jane. If I didn't have Mrs. Rat to live for I would have been gone a long time ago. I would get me a shiny bullet, load it in my pistol, put the barrel in my mouth and pull the trigger!. Everyday I don't is a personal triumph! Everyday is a struggle but I have lived with severe depression for years. I won't bore your readers with the list of medications I have taken. It is important to have someone to hug you! In this instance, hugs save lives! You need a reason to go on. Someone to love and love you back. I am thankful for my sweet wife. She saved me in more ways than one.

JaneofVirginia said...

Mr. Rat, I am very grateful that you found a reason to remain here with us. Mrs. Rat is a fine woman, indeed. I am also grateful for the encouragement you have given to two people I think very highly of here in the blogosphere who are dealing with very tough times. Sometimes the strongest people are hurting and we don't see it.
I am thankful for Mrs. Rat and yourself also !