Depression – The Common Cold

“If you only knew how I feel!” I know many people who suffer from depression echo these words every day.

What is depression and how do we deal with it everyday?  First, depression is a condition we deal with.  It’s not who a person is.  Depression is a flaw in the brains chemistry, not a person’s character.

If you are suffering from depression you’ll understand this:

“You wake up only to want to go back to bed. You think nobody understands your feelings and thoughts, or what you are going through. “Just do it!”, people say.  As if it were that easy.  You try and get ready, but your extremities feel like they’re weighted and moving is a chore.  You are totally numb and anything you’ve once enjoyed, you seem to have lost total interest.

You want to be alone.  You want people to be with you, but you don’t.  You want people to understand, but they can’t.  How can they when YOU don’t even understand?  You’re just numb!  Numb to life.  You’re emotionally not present.  It’s like you are drowning yet you look around and everyone is breathing life.  You avoid friends, you end up hurting relationships, make bad financial choices, and you see life speeding by, but you are left standing on the sideline.

Depression is a constant feeling of being numb.  Numb to emotions.  Days aren’t really days when you are depressed; they are just annoying obstacles that need to be faced, but end up being avoided.  How do you face each day?  Through medication, through drinking, through smoking, through drugs, through cutting?  When you are depressed, you grasp onto anything that can get you through the day.  That is what depression is.  It’s not sadness or tears; it’s the overwhelming sense of numbness and the desire for anything that can help you make it from one day to the next.”

I am Jeff Yalden, and although this is how I feel much of the time, I am a professional in the mental health field working with teens, parents, and educators.  I suffer from depression myself.  Anxiety too!  While I am sharing this with you, I’ll just let it all out.  I am diagnosed with bipolar type 2 and PTSD.  I am fully aware of who I am and the triggers that effect my mood swings.  I regularly see a counselor and am close with my doctors and medication.  Thank you!  I am proud to have a platform where I can openly share who I am, not just what I do.

I have a message for you:

It doesn’t have to be like this.  There is help and there is a better way to live with depression.  Please read and if this is you, I encourage you to lose your ego and open your heart to a medical professional and get help immediately.

Clinical depression is more than just the “blues,” being “down in the dumps,” or experiencing temporary feelings of sadness we all have from time to time. Depression is a serious condition that affects the mind and body. It impacts all aspects of everyday life including eating, sleeping, working, relationships, and how a person thinks of himself/herself.  People who are clinically depressed can’t just “snap out of it.”  If not treated by a professional the symptoms can continue for weeks, months, and even years.

The good news is that there are very effective treatments to help those who are depressed.  However, only about one third of those that are depressed actually receive treatment.  This is very sad because reports say that upwards of 80-90% of those that seek treatment feel better within weeks.

For a variety of reasons many people don’t seek treatment.  Some believe that depression is the result of a personal weakness or character flaw.  Like diabetes, heart disease, or any other medical condition, clinical depression is an illness that should be treated by a mental health professional or physician. Another reason why many people do not seek help for depression is that they simply do not recognize the signs or symptoms that something may be wrong.

Depression, also known as “The Common Cold” of mental illness not only causes suffering to those who are depressed, but it also causes great pain for their family and friends who often do not know how to help.

Types of Depression

Major Depressive Disorder – This impairs a person’s ability to work, sleep, eat, and function as he or she normally would. It keeps people from enjoying activities that were once pleasurable, and causes them to think about themselves and the world in negative ways. Major depression is often disabling and may occur several times in a person’s life.

Dysthmic Disorder – Pronounced (Dis-Thy-mia). This is a milder yet more enduring type of major depression. People with dysthymia may appear to be chronically mildly depressed to the point that is seems to be a part of their personality. When a person finally seeks treatment for dysthymia, it is not uncommon that he/she has struggled with this condition for a number of years.

Bipolar Disorder – Also knows as manic-depression or manic-depressive disorder. This condition is characterized by mood that alternated between periods of depression and periods of elation and excitable behavior knows as mania. For people who have bipolar disorder, the depressions can be severe and the mania can seriously impair one’s normal judgement. When manic, a person is prone towards reckless and inapropriate behavior such as engaging in wild spending sprees or having promiscuous sex. He or she may not be able to realize the harm of his/her behavior and may even lose touch with reality.

Cyclothymic Disorder – Milder yet more enduring type of bipolar disorder. A person’s mood alternates between a less severe mania (known as hypomania) and a less severe depression.

Mood Disorder – General Medical Condition – Depression may be caused or precipitated by a known or unknown physical medical condition such as hypothyroidism.

Substance – Induced Mood Disorder – Depression may be caused or precipitated by the use or abuse of substances such as drugs, alcohol, medications, or toxins.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) – This condition affects people during specific times or seasons of the year. During winter months individuals feel depressed and lethargic, but during other months their moods may be normal.

Postpartum Depression – A rare form of depression occurring in women within one week to six months after giving birth.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder – This is an uncommon type of depression affecting a small percentage of menstruating woman. It is a cyclical condition in which women may feel depressed and irritable for one or two weeks before their menstrual period each month.

Adjustment Disorder – Another common type of depression has to do with life changes. Adjustment disorder causes depressed mood, and it can be the result of the death of a loved one, divorce, moving to a different town, or even changing schools.

 

Symptoms of Depression

People who are depressed or manic may not experience all of the following symptoms. Some will have many symptoms. Some will have just a few. The severity of symptoms will be different for each individuals and will vary over time.

If you are experiencing some of these symptoms or if you have questions about whether you may be depressed or manic, you should consult with your physician or a qualified mental health professional. If you or someone you know is considering suicide, or has made plans to do so, you should seek the help of a mental health professional, call your physician, or call 911.

There are several symptoms of depression. Among them are:

  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Losing interest in social and extracurricular activities
  • Lack of energy
  • Feeling tired most of the time
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Anger
  • Feelings of sadness for much of the time
  • Significant weight fluctuations
  • Sleep pattern changes
  • Physical pains and aches, or sickness, even though there is nothing physically wrong
  • Indifference about the future
  • Afraid of being a burden
  • Uncharacteristic pessimism
  • Guilty feelings
  • Lowering self-esteem
  • Suicidal thoughts

While these symptoms can be experienced by nearly everyone at some point in life, it is important to be able to tell depression apart from the normal roller coaster of life.

** A general rule of thumb for recognizing depression is that five or more symptoms will persist without break for more than two weeks.

 

Treatment for Depression

Depression can be treated. If you are self medicating through substance abuse, over the counter medications, alcohol, cutting or self harm, please speak to a medical professional as soon as possible. Getting help requires you to pick up the phone and make an appointment. Within a couple of weeks you will feel better and you’ll be thankful you made this decision.

Everybody is different. For some, therapy alone works well, while for others, medication is needed. Most people respond favorably to a combination of therapy and medication.  However, it is important to realize that medication can become habit forming, and that it should only be used while under a doctor’s care, and only as directed.

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Jeff Yalden is a motivational speaker who speaks to nearly 250,000 people each year in high schools, middle schools, and parent / community presentations.  Jeff specializes in teen depression, mental health, and talking to parents about teens and technology – cell phones and the use of social media.  Jeff is an expert on the relationship between parents and teenagers and bridges the gap between the two.  For more information on Jeff Yalden, please visit www.JeffYalden.com.  There you will find out about Jeff’s TV Show coming up, his Radio Show, books, and Podcast.  Also, visit Jeff Yalden on YouTube and watch his videos.

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