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COLUMN: The facts about depression, part 2

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By John Lapp

Well, as stated in last week’s column, this is part two on this subject, so as not to leave you hanging and wondering, “what is wrong with me ... am I depressed, or am I just feeling down and maybe this will just pass if I just wait it out?”
Well, why not take the following simple self-rating depression scale by answering “true” to those that you feel are actually true: (taken from the book mentioned last week, “Happiness Is a Choice”):
1. I feel like crying now more often than a year ago.
2. I feel blue and sad.
3. I feel hopeless and helpless a good part of the time.
4. I have lost a lot of my motivation.
5. I have lost interest in things I once enjoyed.
6. I have had thoughts recently that life is just not worth living.
7. My sleep pattern has changed of late. I either sleep too much or too little.
8. I am losing my appetite.
9. I am too irritable.
10. I am anxious as of late.
11. I have less energy than usual.
12. Morning is the worst part of the day.
13. I find myself “introspecting” a lot (thinking too often ‘what’s wrong with me, anyway?’).
14. When I look at myself in the mirror, I appear to be sad.
15. My self-concept is not very good.
16. I worry much about the past.
17. I have more physical symptoms (headaches, upset stomach, constipation, rapid heartbeat, etc.) than I did a year ago.
18. I believe people have noticed that I do not function as well at my job (or home) as I did in the past.
The authors of the book state, “Anyone who answers ‘true’ to a majority (nine or more) of these statements is almost certainly depressed and should seek professional assistance before the depression worsens.”
Depression is often described as a devastating illness that affects the total being — physically, emotionally and spiritually. The authors state that “unlike a broken leg ... the pains of depression come on much more gradually. Many men and women are currently suffering from numerous symptoms of depression without even realizing that they suffer from depression rather than from some purely physical illness.”
Five major categories of symptoms are described in a medical journal, dated in 1973 (and are still relevant today).
These categories are:
• Sad affect (moodiness): a sad facial expression, looks sad, cries often or feels like it, looks tired, discouraged and dejected; features are strained, may gradually lose interest in personal appearance.
• Painful thinking: it seems that the person would prefer to suffer broken bones than a broken heart; feels guilty when innocent; at fault, when blameless; feels deficient, maybe even worthless, although not actually true; gloomy, etc.
• Physical symptoms: quality of sleep, appetite affected, including unusual weight loss or gain; there are so many physical symptoms, too many to mention at this time, but suffice it to say that the person may hate to admit that he/she may have psychological conflicts which can be seen as a sign of weakness.
• Anxiety or Agitation: more irritable than usual, even more anxious than usual (although most people, at times, feel some form/level of anxiety).
• Delusional thinking: This can occur in very severe depressions. This person is clearly out of touch with reality, with perhaps notions of persecution, even hallucinations — hearing voices that can be condemning and accusing in nature, although, in reality, the voices are not really there.
If these named symptoms disable the individual biologically and socially, this could be described as a depressive neurosis, and the individual can actually be helped, and not have to continue for a long period of time, or a lifetime of suffering.
However, if these symptoms continue and increase for too long, especially if a pattern of delusional thinking begins to occur too often/long, it could possibly require some form of hospitalization or intense therapy several times per week.
If any of the above symptoms are occurring with you, please do yourself a favor and get some help now so life can become better for you and you can begin to develop yourself to your full potential as a person, a partner and/or a parent.
You owe it to yourself to take care of yourself. If you don’t take care of yourself, who will?
For more information, contact me at 502-477-2818, or 904-699-8417 (cell).