Writer’s Name: Allison Martin
Title: Depression: Recognizing the Signs
Life couldn’t be better for a 30 year old wife and mother of two. She is happily married to the most loving and caring man a woman could ask for and her children are healthy and vibrant. Her work life is also going well as she has just completed her Bachelor’s degree and landed her dream job. All of her hard work is finally paying off and she is reaping the rewards.
That is when disaster strikes. Her husband is seriously injured in a motorcycle accident. To make matters worse, she hasn’t been with her employer long enough to accrue emergency medical leave so she has to abandon her job. The kids begin to act out at school because they miss their mommy (who now spends all her time caring for her sick husband) and fear that daddy will not make it through. Money is tight and this woman’s life is now turned upside down. Instead of pausing to take a moment to get help, she continues with her day to day regimen until life finally gets the best of her. As time progresses and her husband grows more and more ill, she falls into a deep state of depression without even realizing it. Before too long, she begins having suicidal thoughts and is admitted to the nearest mental health institution.
Unfortunately, this is someone’s reality who underestimated just how powerful major depression can be. Some individuals believe that they are invincible and that depression can’t affect them. However, what they fail to realize is that it can be triggered by chemical changes in the brain, stressful events, or both, making it a disorder that is sometimes beyond your control. In my example, the traumatic motorcycle accident and job loss more than likely caused the woman to fall into a deep state of depression. For others, major depression can be caused by various other elements such as sleep deprivation, medications, drugs, alcohol, and life-altering medical conditions (i.e. long-term pain, cancer).
Many around us are battling depression at this very moment and don’t even realize it because of the lack of understanding of the disorder as a whole and symptoms to look for. Those who suffer from major depression are typically very negative in nature and possess an unfavorable outlook with almost every situation they encounter. Positive thinking is almost non-existent in their world. Other signs that indicate an individual is suffering include but are not limited to fatigue, weight loss, constant restlessness, self-hate, guilt, suicidal thoughts, withdrawal from society, and constant sleeping.
Fortunately, there is help for those who suffer from major depression. The most non-invasive form of assistance is psychotherapy (or talk therapy). In the counseling sessions, the psychotherapist encourages the patient to discuss their thoughts and feelings and shares ways to cope with them. Another alternative is the use of antidepressants. There are many types of antidepressants available and the doctor will typically prescribe the one that best suits the needs of the patient. For those individuals with more severe cases of major depression, a combination of psychotherapy and antidepressants is probably most beneficial. If this doesn’t work, admission into a psychiatric hospital may be necessary as a last resort.
When treatment begins, victims of major depression should refrain from alcohol and illegal drugs to remain in a stable state of mind. As time progresses and strides toward improvement are made, engaging in the following activities may assist with living with and eventually overcoming the disorder: good sleep habits, volunteer work, healthy eating habits, exercise, and interacting regularly with positive and caring people.
Being a victim of this disorder early in life, I can assure you that it’s very difficult for someone to come to terms with the fact that they are battling major depression. However, don’t let this deter you from helping anyone who may be suffering. Instead, take a gentle approach and offer suggestions that may improve their situation (i.e. job change, joining support group, psychotherapy, medication). Major depression can spiral out of control very quickly so it’s important to seek help for the individual before it’s too late.