Profile of Abuse
Effects of Stress
Anger and Rage
Growing up Angry
DSM IV Disorders
Just for Teens
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Many Faces of Depression
This Week's Blogs
Depression: What is It?
- Depression is an illness
that can affect a person's body as well as their mind &
spirit. Most People feel down from time to time, that's
normal. But when feelings are severe or prolonged, one may
be experiencing depression.
- Depression often goes ignored or untreated. People either
don't understand or they don't recognize the symptoms, they
may be afraid to appear "weak" or they may be too depressed
to take action.
- When someone is depressed, everyone close to them suffers.
Untreated, depression can disrupt work, family relations,
and social life. The good news is that depression can be
treated. Most people begin to feel better within weeks after
beginning treatment. Treatment might include antidepressant
medications and/or psychotherapy. Some self-help remedies
may also be helpful such as 20 minutes of exercise every
day (i.e. walking), 20 minutes of sunshine per day, and
reduction in caffeine intake.
- Anyone can suffer from depression. The elderly, middle
aged people, young adults, adolescents and even babies can
suffer from depression. Many things can predispose someone
to a bout of depression such as unbalanced brain chemistry,
major life changes, alcohol and other drugs, a family history
of depression, illness or medications.
Symptoms of Depression:
- There are broad ranges
of symptoms that can be related to depression. Symptoms
in children can be markedly different than those of an adult.
Women may have symptoms different than a man, and teenagers
exhibit symptoms differently than adults. On the average,
the Symptoms for an adult are:
- poor digestion.
- General slowing down
- neglect of responsibilities and appearance
- irritability (complaints about matters that used to
be taken in stride)
- Persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" mood
- Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
- Insomnia, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping.
- Appetite and/or weight loss or overeating and weight
- Decreased energy. Fatigue, being "slowed down"
- Thoughts of death or suicide, suicide attempts
- Restlessness, irritability
- Difficulty remembering, making decisions
- Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to
treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and
- Emotional flatness or emptiness
- inability to find pleasure in anything
- loss of sexual desire
- loss of warm feelings for family or friends
- loss of self esteem
- A depressive disorder is a "whole-body" illness, involving
your body, mood, and thoughts. It affects the way you eat
and sleep, the way you feel about yourself, and the way
you think about things. A depressive disorder is not a passing
blue mood. It is not a sign of personal weakness or a condition
that can be willed or wished away. People with a depressive
illness cannot merely "pull themselves together" and get
better. Without treatment, symptoms can last for weeks,
months, or years. Appropriate treatment, however, can help
over 80% of those who suffer from depression.
Major Depression - A Case Study
- Linda was in college when she first began to slip into
depression. It seemed to hit her the worst when she felt
she was being rejected. After she failed to get accepted
into an elite sorority, her friends noticed changes in her
otherwise perky demeanor. Her voice became lifeless, her
face was pale and drawn, and her eyes seemed always on the
verge of tears. Her energy level was lower than usual and
she had difficulty getting out of bed or doing "normal"
daily tasks like eating or shopping. She became reclusive
and she had difficulty sleeping or concentrating on her
studies. She admitted feeling like a fraud and felt as if
her life was worthless.
- Linda's case demonstrates how depression differs from
despair or "the blues." Seriously depressed people experience
feelings of helplessness, hopelessness or unrelenting sadness.
They loose their ability to enjoy life's pleasures and often
feel a strong sense of guilt.
- Depression can also create physical changes. Sleep patterns
are typically altered and the depressed individual often
wakes in the early morning hours (around 2-3 a.m.) unable
to get back to sleep. They may loose their appetite or experience
stomach problems from poor digestion. The depressed individual
may complain that they just want to hide somewhere or crawl
into a cave and role a stone in front of the opening. The
feeling of wanting to escape and find peace in nothingness,
is one of the symptoms of the most serious cases of depression.
It is difficult for the seriously depressed person to realize
that their intense dark feelings will not last forever.
The fact is that all feelings related to depression are
transient. THEY WILL GO AWAY! When you begin to feel overwhelmed,
force yourself to get up and do something physical. Do the
dishes, pull weeds (very therapeutic), take a walk, and
go to the mall. The point is to get up and move; stop dwelling
on your sorrow.
Depression Fast Facts:
- The younger a person is when they first experience
an episode of major depression, the more likely they
will suffer recurrent episodes.
- Those who have close relatives who are prone to depression
are more likely to become affected.
- People with major depression are more likely to have
physical illness and have more pain than other individuals.
- People who have been victims of physical and/or sexual,
or emotional abuse are highly
likely to experience recurring episodes of major depression.
Take the Depression
Quiz to see how you fair.
Bipolar Disorder (formerly
known as Manic Depression)
- Mania is feeling very high, full of energy and nearly
immortal. Bipolar disorder is when a person experiences
episodes of serious depression and mania alternately. The
lows may last a few days or several weeks. Likewise the
highs might be accompanied by inability to sleep or to relax.
The person may go on shopping or gambling sprees for days
or weeks at a time. They tend to be talkative, restless,
aggressive, grandiose, extreme or destructive. They may
boast or appear intimidating or powerful as if they had
the power of the earth in their command. They may feel a
sense of intense well being and they may have an increased
desire for sexual gratification.
- One man in a manic episode purchased seven red Camaros
- one for each day of the week. A woman with the disorder
became obsessed with a rock star and followed him, like
a groupie, whenever she was in a manic phase. It is not
uncommon for someone in a manic episode to give away all
of their possessions and embark on a wild adventure. They
may swing back and forth from depression to mania on a regular
basis or they may experience a "calm" or "normal" period
- Not everyone who is depressed or manic experiences every
symptom. Some people experience a few symptoms, some have
many. Also, the severity of symptoms varies with individuals.
Symptoms of Mania:
- Inappropriate elation
- Inappropriate irritability
- Severe insomnia
- Grandiose notions
- Increased talking
- Disconnected and racing thoughts
- Increased sexual desire
- Markedly increased energy
- Poor judgment
- Inappropriate social behavior
Children and Depression
- Children can experience depression as well as adults.
Like adults the depression can be either a result of a chemical
imbalance or a side effect of a traumatic experience. Children
however, experience depression differently than adults.
Unless we know what to look for, the illness can go unnoticed
or be explained as a discipline problem. If a child is exhibiting
any of the following problems, it may be a cover for a serious
- Hyperactivity, delinquency, irritability aggressiveness.
- Physical complaints such as, headaches, stomach aches,
fingernail biting or bedwetting.
- Or an intense desire not to go to school.
- It is all too common for parents, teachers or physicians
to overlook these symptoms and label the child inaccurately
without realizing the undercurrent of depression. Because
children don't understand the idea of depression, and have
a limited vocabulary to describe how they feel, they are
not likely to complain of feeling poorly. Children are also
more likely to be energetic and show interest in activities
than are adults experiencing depression. They may be moody,
cry easily, have difficulty sleeping or have a decreased
appetite. Like adults, children who are severely depressed
may turn to self-destructive alternatives to emotional pain.
- Suicidal children have many things in common with
one another. Low self-esteem is one of them. If your child
is exhibiting symptoms of severe depression, or despair,
seek help immediately. Beware of falling into a trap of
believing that it is not as bad as you think, or that "it
will pass." The Fact is that each year hundreds of children
between the ages of 5-21 kill themselves.
- Look for changes in sleep patterns, eating habits, grades,
peer relationships, degree of reclusivness, giving personal
items away. If your child says ANYTHING insinuating that
they don't want to live, or they "just can't go on," take
it seriously and talk with the child, express your love
for him/her and let them know that you would feel terrible
if they weren't around. If your child has a long period
of depression that is suddenly lifted and followed by a
euphoria or an overall "relaxed" feeling, get help immediately.
Children often become relaxed and even euphoric once they
have made the decision to take their life. The euphoria
comes from the relief of believing they won't have to suffer
Dealing With Suicidal Thoughts or Feelings
- Suicide is a very serious and frightening subject. But
it is a subject that needs to be understood and dealt with
openly. Suicide is a significant cause of death in many
western countries, in some cases exceeding deaths by motor
- Attempts at suicide, and suicidal thoughts or feelings
are usually a symptom indicating that a person isn't coping,
often as a result of some event or series of events that
they find overwhelmingly traumatic or distressing. In many
cases, the events will pass, their impact can be mitigated,
or their overwhelming nature will gradually fade. Since
this can be extremely difficult, this article is an attempt
to raise awareness about suicide, so that we may be better
able to recognize and help other people in crisis, and also
to find how to seek help or make better choices ourselves.
Facts about suicide:
- People who suffer from Major Depression, Bipolar Depression
or a chemical imbalance are much more likely to attempt
suicide than those in the general public.
- Women attempt suicide twice as often as men but men
are twice as likely to die from their attempts.
- Men use more violent methods, which often result in
permanent impairments to survivors.
- In a lifetime, 15% of patients with major depression
will eventually die by suicide.
- Those who have a close relative or friend who has
committed suicide are at greater risk of an attempt.
- Those who are abusing drugs or alcohol are at greater
- Those who suffer from chronic illness or who have
Obsessive-Compulsive tendencies or have perfectionist
tendencies are at greater risk.
- 80% of those who kill themselves have seen their physicians
in the previous six months often for symptoms of major
depression (insomnia, decreased energy etc.)
- People who contemplate suicide often talk about it beforehand
to friends and/or family members. Because they are afraid
of the thought of suicide, or because they are blind to
the symptoms of depression. Many times these verbal cues
go unnoticed or are rationalized as being "just talk." Whenever
someone you know is jesting about dying, threatening suicide,
or hinting that they wish they didn't have to live anymore,
you need to ask them the following questions directly and
- Do you sometimes have a feeling that life isn't worth
living, or do you think about death much?
- Do you sometimes think that if you died tomorrow from
an accident or illness, that it just wouldn't matter?
(This is passive suicidal ideation.) >
- Have you had thoughts of killing yourself? (This is
active suicidal ideation.)
- If the person answers yes to passive but not to active
suicidal ideation, for now they are probably at low risk,
unless they are engaging in high risk behaviors (auto racing,
doing drugs, etc.). If a person answers yes to the last
question, further risk assessment is in order. Next you
- What has kept you from acting on your suicidal ideal?
If they respond that they are too afraid to try, or that
their children need them too much (or something similar)
then they are low risk.
- Regardless of whether a person is low risk or high risk,
they need to speak with a professional. If the underlying
reason for their suicidal thoughts is not dealt with ASAP
they could quickly fall into a high-risk category.
- Suicidal people are best managed on a day to day basis.
That is instead of making them promise "never" to make an
attempt on their life, you need to get them to commit not
to make an attempt that day, for the next 24 hours or for
the next week. This will help you buy time to get them help
and it will provide opportunity to rethink their decision.
More often than not, people who once thought they wanted
to die, later state that they are EXTREMELY grateful that
they did not.
- No matter how bad a person feels at the moment, the feeling
will not last forever! All sad, depressed, and hopeless
feelings eventually go away. Suicide is a permanent solution
to a TEMPORARY problem. Depressed people, after being successfully
treated, invariably stop feeling suicidal. Those who have
attempted suicide but did not succeed, later express great
relief that they did not die.
The following are warning
signs of someone contemplating suicide:
- They may feel and act very happy and/or relaxed after
previously feeling depressed or lethargic.
- They may give away possessions.
- They may express feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness
- They may quit work or school or have poor performance
at work or school.
- They may become irritable or excessively complacent.
- They may abuse drugs or alcohol.
- They may make attempt to speak with people close to
them (grandparents, parents, siblings, etc.).
- They may be feeling better than they had been in the
- They may see a physical with complaints of pain, lethargy
or sleeping problems.
- They may make statements that indicate their thoughts
of death (i.e., "Death would feel so quiet." or "I just
feel like dying." or "I think everybody would be better
off without me.")
For More on Suicide
- If you or anyone you know is exhibiting any of these signs,
get help immediately. Suicide does not have to happen! See
listings at this site.
Or call 1-800-999-9999
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Choices You Make Today, Determine Your Tomorrow,
Karen Dougherty MS -