The Big “D”…Depression

We’ve probably all said, “I’m depressed” at one time in our lives. Depressed because our favorite team lost the Super bowl, depressed because we no longer fit into our favorite pair of skinny jeans or maybe because we experienced a significant loss, such as the death of a parent, spouse, child or friend.

But what if you find yourself depressed and there is no because?

What if you just feel depressed, then what?

Let me take a minute to give a working definition of depression and make sure we are all on the same page.

Depression is more than just having a case of the blues or the blahs. It is a condition that affects the way you think, feel and behave. Depression causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest regardless of situation and circumstances. It can vary from mild to life threatening if it is allowed to go untreated or misdiagnosed.

Depression can lead to a wide variety of physical and emotional problems and can be debilitating as it robs a person of their personality, their passion and purpose for living.

Headaches, back pain, joint pain, intestinal issues, loss of interest, feelings of worthlessness, changes in appetite, sleep disturbances as well as thoughts of death or suicide are but a few of the symptoms associated with depression.

Maybe you’ve found yourself in a place where no matter how hard you try; you just can’t seem to shake it. You wind yourself up; convince yourself that if you just try harder, if you have more faith, if you could just get past this thing then you would feel better.

Does any of this sound/feel familiar? If it does, please know that you are not alone.

According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 out of 10 Americans reports having experienced the effects of Depression. Chances are you or someone you love has experienced depression.

The important thing to know here is that there is help.

I have a good friend who has struggled with depression for many years. She has done all the “right things”. She has sought medical help, she has been in therapy, she has read books and tried to talk to people for encouragement. She has prayed and fasted and in the end she grew more and more despondent.

It can be both sad and scary to watch someone you love seemingly slip away as the fog of depression settles in casting a grim and gloomy picture of reality. Fortunately for my friend she eventually got in front of the right physician who was able to offer her hope and she is re engaging with life again with a renewed sense of hope and purpose. In this case my friend had a “happy ending”, this is not always the case for others.

My sister struggled with depression for most of her life. Unfortunately, she chose to self medicate with alcohol and prescription drugs. This led to a downward spiral of depression, self – loathing, destructive behaviors, alienation and ultimately death. Her life and death are a cautionary tale to those who think they can manage their depression on their own, in private without help.

If you find yourself questioning if you are depressed or if you know someone who is, take the first step. Talk to someone. A friend, a co- worker, a pastor/priest/rabbi, family physician or consult with a therapist or school guidance counselor.

Because depression is a serious condition, I am obligated to include this warning:

If you are thinking about harming yourself or attempting suicide, tell someone who can help right away:
Call your doctor’s office.
• Call your county’s Mental Health Department
• Call 911 for emergency services.
• Go to the nearest hospital emergency room.

Call the toll-free, 24-hour hotline of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (1-800- 273-8255); TTY: 1-800-799-4TTY (4889) to be connected to a trained counselor at a suicide crisis center nearest you.
Ask a family member or friend to help you make these calls or take you to the hospital.
IF YOU HAVE A FAMILY MEMBER OR FRIEND IN A CRISIS
If you have a family member or friend who is suicidal, do not leave him or her alone. Try to get the person to seek help immediately from an emergency room, physician, or mental health professional. Take seriously any comments about suicide or wishing to die. Even if you do not believe your family member or friend will actually attempt suicide, the person is clearly in distress and can benefit from your help in receiving mental health treatment.

Below are some links to some places to begin your journey of hope.

Therapist finder by state
National Institute for Mental Health
Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration
Depression quiz with scoring
American Association of Christian Counselors

How have you or someone close to you been affected by depression? If you have questions or want to schedule an appointment, please email me from the contact page.

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10 thoughts on “The Big “D”…Depression

  1. Cheryl Spencer says:

    Excellent writing about depression. Thank you! What is the most frustrating is whe friends and family will say, “Just go for a walk,” “Take a trip.” ect., ect., I try to tell them it doesn’t work like that. Don’t get me wrong, I love traveling and “doing” fun things, I have just gotten to the point where “sometimes”…..I just don’t care anymore. It comes and goes. Yes, I am seeing a Dr. and a Phychologist. Which has been helpful. Thank you for this wonderful article, For me, it showed a lot of compassion, and understanding of depression. Thank you!
    Cheryl

    • KAREN COOK says:

      Cheryl – thank you for stopping by the couch & for your honesty. I am sorry that you’ve experienced well meaning but generally unhelpful comments/advice from family & friends. I am glad you’ve sought professional help and hope you know that everyday you choose to live with depression and not give into it is a brave day and a victorious day.
      Praying for you as you journey life with this unwanted companion.
      Grace & Peace….
      Karen

  2. Sherry says:

    signing the guest book…
    I’ve known the big D; when it’s been big and overwhelming, and when it’s been little and pesty and such. I think the worst someone can say is “just get over it” – I wish more people were “appropriately” sensitive to others who have it.

  3. christimarcotte says:

    Such important information, Karen! I am so sorry that this has touched your life in such a personal way. As a healthcare professional, I know how important it is to get the word out– there are so many misconceptions floating around. Thank you for being so specific and clear.

  4. Lori - jumpingonclouds.com says:

    Thanks for sharing this, Karen. I’m so sorry about your sister. That must be very painful for you and your family.
    I can relate all too well with depression… major depression, in fact, and I almost didn’t make it out. I’ve shared a little bit of my story with you so I won’t go into it too much here, but I’m glad you put in the resources at the end of this piece. Reaching out for help is SO key to healing from depression.
    When you’re depressed, it’s hard to project anything but negativity and the guilt over not feeling ok just compounds the bad feelings. 6 years ago when I had my breakdown, I never would have thought I’d be able to feel joy and freedom, but thanks to God, therapy, medication, and the love of my husband and good friends, I’m seeing the light more often than the dark. There is always hope for people who suffer with depression…no matter how long they’ve suffered.
    Thanks again for sharing this truth and hope…I pray this beautiful message reaches the many people who need it. Your big, compassionate heart comes ringing through loud and clear. 🙂

  5. Carrie Chwierut says:

    Wow, what a powerful post…and I’m so sorry to hear about your sister. I have family members who have struggled with depression, and I’ve had bouts of it myself. It’s a scary thing. Thank you for sharing this info!

    • KAREN COOK says:

      Thanks Carrie…I am sorry for the ways you have encountered depression. It is my hope that by bringing these difficult topics up that people will recognize there is hope and help for what they struggle with.

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