Monday, February 8, 2016

Depresssion: Recognizing It, Where To Get Help, How to Help

Depression: What do you know about it? Have you felt depressed, and what did you do about it? What would you want others to know?

While we all have days when we feel like we just want to stay in bed and not deal with life, if it reaches a point where a person literally cannot move, cannot simply 'get over it,' there might be need for professional help. Here are some signs to look for, whether in yourself or someone you know:
  • Lack of interest in things that normally do interest you
  • Wanting to sleep more than to be awake during a 24 hour period
  • Or not being able to sleep at all  (See Triogenius November 5, 2012)
  • Not eating
  • Overeating
  • Lack of conversation with others
  • Unable to concentrate
  • Problems with memory
  • A downfall in schoolwork or on the job performance
  • Not taking care of personal hygiene
  • Isolating from others: physically not being where others are
  • Not speaking to anyone, including texting or phone calls
  • Being angry all the time
  • Being frustrated easily and for a long time
  • Physical symptoms: Pain, breathing problems, stomach issues
  • Physically harming of self: Cutting, taking drugs, "overmedicating,"drinking too much

What can cause depression?
  • A change in your brain chemistry
  • Hormonal changes, such as seen in Postpartum (after childbirth) Depression
  • Genetic factors
  • Brain injury
  • Low self-esteem
  • Trauma: Something extremely upsetting has happened
  • Death of a loved one
  • Chronic illness
  • Alcoholism or drug abuse
  • Even some medications cause depression.

Depression that's severe and long-lasting probably indicates an imbalance in the brain. It is not going to pass and the person can't "just snap out of it." Take a look at the difference between a 'normal' brain and one that's been affected by depression:
Here are the parts of the brain. Those parts usually affected are the Amygdala, Thalamus, and Hippocampus:



What can help?
If it is mild, sometimes exercise is helpful. Movement increases the level of endorphins, the "feel good" hormones. Exercise can also help take your mind off things, include some social interaction, increase your confidence, and make you feel more in control. Speaking to a friend, a doctor, or a spiritual leader might help as well.

But when depression has become worse than a temporary funk, first, of course, be understanding if this is happening to a friend or to you.  Realize that it isn't a choice the person is making. Something is medically 'off' that needs to be helped. Therapy may be what's needed and possibly medications (anti-depressants) can help. Call your doctor, or that of the person in trouble, unless you feel the need for help is urgent. In that case, call 911 or take the person to an Emergency Room of your local hospital. Stay with the person until help is found. Remember that the brain is a part of your body, and it's not a sign of weakness that your brain isn't working properly.

If an anti-depressant is prescribed, be aware that it will probably be necessary to take it for several weeks before results are noticeable. Be patient.

Depression affects over 19 million adults every year.

Here is a more thorough explanation of how depression works, and how medications can cure it:

Here is the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. You can call 24/7 to talk to someone who can help you find help: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and press "1" for Veterans.

Please remember that you matter. Ask for help. It will get better.

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