What is Depression?Depression is a serious medical condition that an estimated 19 million people suffer from on a yearly basis. A large number of individuals do not seek treatment for a depressive condition; however, such a condition often requires crucial attention in order to prevent the condition from worsening or other conditions from developing. Generally, those that suffer from this condition have a lack of energy or motivation, they lose interest in activities that were once enjoyed, have a loss of appetite, or become easily frustrated and irritable, which often interferes with daily life–work, family, and socialization. However, such a condition has become widely recognized and accepted over the years with the over-whelming number of people–children and adults alike–that suffer from depression.Depression is not a condition to be ashamed of, and is an understandably accepted occurrence in today’s society. With mild, moderate, and even severe anxiety, there are all natural treatment options available–such as the use of fish oils. When most people seek treatment for depression they are initially prescribed medication from their physician in the form of a pill or are referred to a therapist for further evaluation of the condition. Although these anti-depressant medicines may work, there have been several dangerous side-effects linked with anti-depressant medications and the individuals that suffer from depression and take these medications on a regular basis.If these side-effects occur, it could further hinder those that take the prescribed medications. In more severe cases, there have even been anti-depressant medications that have been linked to suicide or suicidal thoughts and tendencies. However, there is an all natural, side-effect free way to help fight depression and gain your life back. It has been scientifically proven that the use of fish oils is linked with increased serotonin levels in the body, which directly help ease symptoms of depression. Additionally, a daily intake of fish oil greatly helps to reduce, or even cure, a depressive condition.What Causes Depression?Depression is caused by physical changes in the brain and an imbalance of chemicals–neurotransmitters–that carry the brain signals to your nerves. Specifically, low serotonin levels in the brain are responsible for depressive changes. There is not one particular cause that triggers depression, and it usually develops from exposure to several different factors together. Such as genetics, which means the condition very well could have been passed on from a parent or from past generations. If you are aware of relatives that have suffered from depressive episodes or long term depression, the odds of developing the condition yourself automatically increase.Traumatic events and stress are also substantial causes of depression. In today’s economy, people are stricken with financial woes and fears of where their next paycheck may come from or how to put dinner on the table. Also, those that suffer the loss of a loved one, or a person carrying a traumatic experience, such as an assault, with them on a daily basis also commonly battle depression. Most people often think individuals with low self-esteem already suffer from depression, and simply have low self-esteem because they are depressed. On the contrary, those that lack self-confidence or self-esteem are often found to be pessimistic people by nature, and eventually exhibit depressive symptoms at some point in their lives after dealing with low self-esteem issues for a substantial period of time. Individuals that are products of a sexually, physically, or emotionally abusive environment, or an environment with constant conflicts, such as an impending divorce, often develop a case of depression.The consumption of certain medications have also been linked to cases of depression. It has been found that many individuals that suffer from high blood pressure and take medication to help control such conditions, such as beta blockers or reserpine, often develop depression because of the interference in the transmission of the neurotransmitters in the brain. Additionally, there are also individuals that suffer from other physical and medical conditions–such as cancer, HIV and AIDS, or even heart failure–that struggle to come to grips with the fact that they may have a decreased or limited amount of time with family and friends, and are unable to accomplish all of their desires before leaving everyone and everything behind them. With depression, it has been established that other conditions often accompany depression. These other conditions include, but are not limited to, anxiety, schizophrenia, eating disorders, as well as substance abuse in order to acquire a small level of relief from such depression conditions. With the daily intake of fish oils, however, the odds of developing depression or additional condition that coincide with depression greatly decrease or become eliminated all together.Why Use Fish Oils to Treat Depression?There have been many beneficial scientific studies, which have shown that increased levels of omega-3 rich fish oils greatly decrease the symptoms of depression, and possibly even cure depression all together. In 1993, a psychiatrist from Harvard’s McLean Hospital stumbled across the link between omega-3 fatty acids and fish oils to decrease or eliminate symptoms of depression while researching for a new treatment to be used against manic depressive disorder, otherwise known as bi-polar disorder. In 1998, the first study results were released and published in the ‘Journal of Affective Disorders’, stating that individuals with lower than average levels of omega-3 fatty acids–found abundantly in fish oils–in their red blood cell membranes were prone to develop a depression condition or already suffer from a depressive disorder.An article following in 1999 by a group of medical doctors was published in the ‘Archives of General Psychiatry’, declared results they found in a controlled study group of 30 severely depressed individuals, which received omega-3 fatty acids via fish oils. More than 60 percent of individuals in the controlled group that received a mere 10 grams of the omega-3 rich fish oils marked a vast improvement when the 10 grams of fish oils were taken on a daily basis for a 4 month period. In other countries with higher fish consumption, due to fish being the main delicacy, it has also been found that those societies in whole have tremendously lower rates of depression overall, which also directly enables scientists to further accredit their study results. Also, in 2007 a study was conducted that included 10 clinical trials of individuals suffering from varying levels of depression, which studied the effects of omega-3 fatty acids from fish oils, and the correlation between increased levels of fish oils and depression.The conclusion of the studies found that fish oils, which are polyunsaturated fats that can not be produced by the body naturally and are derived mainly from the consumption of sea foods, had a significant impact on decreasing depression symptoms and essentially the fish oils acted as an anti-depressant. Scientists and researchers alike are pushing for the natural, side-effect free fish oils to be used more widely in order to help treat or cure depression, which in turn will help alleviate other conditions that are often developed due to depressive conditions. Given the largely positive results from the years of research, it is widely concluded that the use of fish oils is imperative to proper bodily functions and the reduction or complete elimination of depression symptoms.How Fish Oils Decrease DepressionBiochemical researchers point out that cell membranes are all partially made up of omega-3 fatty acids, meaning the brain is made up of these omega-3 fatty acids, and the walls of neurons are also made up of the omega-3 fatty acids derived from fish oils. As a matter of fact, researchers from Harvard’s McLean Hospital say that most of the brain’s dry weight is made up from fat. Fish oils contain essential fatty acids that are not found in our bodies naturally, and our bodies only receive the beneficial fish oils through our diets. Fish oils cannot be manufactured or synthetically created–it must be ingested from a natural source or a source created with the natural fish oil ingredients.If individuals increased their daily intake of the omega-3 fatty acids by consuming more essential omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish oils–by taking pill supplements or adding fish to their diet 2 or 3 times per week–it would be made simpler for serotonin–the chemical that carries messages from one brain cell to another–to pass through cell membranes, which would regulate bodily functions and minimize or eliminate symptoms of depression conditions. Since omega-3 fatty acids–found in fish oils–directly affect serotonin levels in the brain, as well as change the way our bodies function, the use of fish oils is strongly recommended, and there have even been talks of prescribing the omega-3 rich fish oils along with medications such as Prozac.What Causes Low Levels of Omega-3 and Serotonin?Researchers have found through multiple studies over the years that, within the last several decades, changes in dietary habits–such as ridding diets of saturated fats and cholesterol, found in red meats or eggs–are contributors to increasing low levels of the omega-3 fatty acids found in the body because the items cut from daily diets are rich sources of the omega-3 fatty acids. In today’s society, and with the many medial advancements and findings on cholesterol and hyper tension, doctors are increasingly counseling their patients to remove or reduce the amount of foods that once supplied them with the proper levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which were keeping serotonin levels in check.In order to alleviate high cholesterol or hyper tension, dietary changes may need to take place under the guidance of a physician, however, proper supplementation of the omega-3 fatty acids–found in fish oils–must also occur to retain proper levels of serotonin in order to prevent depressive disorders, mood swings, as well as the development of anxiety disorders. It is especially common in individuals that do not eat sea food, or are allergic to sea foods, to have lower than average levels of the essential omega-3 fatty acids in their diets. If consuming fish is a difficult task, it is recommended to find supplementation elsewhere, such as adding fish oil supplements via pill form in order to prevent dangerously low levels of serotonin, which may create a depression condition.Forms of Beneficial Fish Oil SupplementsThere are several different forms of fish oils that can be taken in order to receive the proper levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which keep your serotonin levels and depressive condition under control, and return balance back to your body. Sometimes, adding a real piece of fish to your daily diet will help start to restore the proper amount of omega-3 to your diet through the essential fish oils. However, not all fish are created equal and the amount of Omega 3 in each fish varies. It is also important to remember that consuming too much fish can lead to mercury poisoning due to toxins absorbed from our polluted oceans by the fish’s skin.To protect you from this, many health professionals advise getting the recommended dose of Omega 3 through ultra refined ultra high dose fish oil supplements. Companies selling these supplements filter out the impurities from the fish oil so people taking the capsules are ingesting only the beneficial Omega 3 fatty acids and not harmful toxins such as mercury, lead, PCBs and other contaminants. Such supplements can be purchased for low or moderate costs online, at local vitamin stores, department stores, or health food stores. Since fish oils cannot be manufactured or synthetically created, all of the fish oil supplements available are made with natural fish oil ingredients.
Many women suffer from pregnancy depression. Recent research shows that pregnancy hormones don’t protect a woman from depression. In fact, a sudden rise in hormonal levels can trigger depression. This is why pregnancy depression is not as rare as you many think. Many women go through the same, but they are often undiagnosed because they don’t always seek professional help or they believe the mood swings, anxiety and depression they experience are a normal part of pregnancy.Who is at Risk?All women can develop pregnancy depression, but there are some risk factors you might want to consider: History of depression: If you have a personal or family history of depression, you’re more likely to become depressed in pregnancy.
Problems with your pregnancy or previous pregnancies. If you experience problems in your current pregnancy or if you’ve had problems in your previous pregnancies, it’s more likely that you’ll become depressed.
Stress. Stressful events can trigger depression. It can be anything from death in the family, financial issues or problems in your relationship.
Other factors. Some of the other risk factors include: past history of abuse, being of a young age, being single, having an unplanned pregnancy or getting pregnant after a lot of trying or after a fertility treatment.Feeling DepressedIf you suspect you might be depressed, it’s important to accept it and work towards solving this problem. You may even take a pregnancy depression test online to see where you stand, but note that these tests are made for orientation only and can’t be taken as a real diagnosis or a medical opinion. It’s important to talk to someone about the way you feel. It can be a doctor or someone close to you, such as your partner or a friend. It’s important to get some help or a treatment to feel better. Remember: you deserve better than to feel depressed during pregnancy.After Pregnancy DepressionAfter pregnancy depression is called postpartum depression and it’s triggered by sudden hormonal changes. After you give birth, your hormone levels get back to normal very quickly, which can lead to depression. This condition is somewhat common and it’s not surprising. It’s also estimated that about half of women who suffer from pregnancy depression will experience postpartum depression.There are also some other factors which can lead to postpartum depression, such as difficult childbirth, feeling tired after delivery, lack of sleep, stress from changes in your daily routine because of the baby and more. One of the common complaints is doubting your mothering skills or having unusually high expectations of being a good mother.Just like depression during pregnancy, postpartum depression is treatable. You should seek medical help if these feelings stay for too long, but you should always have a support network that will help you go through this difficult time. Your partner, family members and friends should be there for you. They can help you with the baby and they can support you. It’s important for you to feel you have someone to trust. Another important thing is to always find some time for yourself, no matter how short it may be. This is a very good way of fighting against pregnancy depression and postpartum depression.
Everyone experiencing depression will know that it is impossible to “think” a way out of the darkness. No matter how hard we try to understand depression we cannot lift the dark cloud hanging over our head. So what is depression really about? Why can’t we solve it or get rid of it as easy as a cold?Although we may feel like depression is the beginning of the darkness, it is not. The truth is this: Depression, in reality, is the end of the darkness. This may seem impossible to believe or contrary to what others say. So if this doesn’t make sense yet – that’s okay, keep reading.Life offers every individual a unique journey to learn and evolve. If we head off track on our journey, we are given opportunities to be naturally redirected. Depression is one natural indicator of how lost we have become. When we experience depression it is highly likely that we are being given a signal that something is not right in the way we are living life – it is like a “wake-up call”. It means an awakening is beginning inside. Although it may seem like the darkness is new, it is not. This is because for the majority of people experiencing depression life has always been dark. The difference now is that the awakening is making them aware of the darkness. The darkness has always been there – they just have not noticed it until now!When a person first becomes aware of the darkness, they feel scared, uncomfortable, isolated and hopeless. Naturally people with depression may want to get rid of these unwanted eerie feelings in the same way that one gets rid of a cold or flu. It is not that simple though as these feelings arise from a person’s whole being – their body, mind and spirit. The darkness is not a condition of the physical body or mind alone. The only way to find effective relief from depression is to enliven the whole being.By taking a “whole of being” approach to depression, it can be a gateway for transforming our life into an incredible journey of meaning and self-discovery. This involves doing a bit of self-work to tap into our inner power to transform the darkness into joy. Through some self-discovery we then start to understand how we got off track, what we want in life and what would give us a deeper sense of purpose and meaning.Often people with depression do not want to do the self-work as they simply want their life to return to how it used to be. This is impossible though because when the “the awakening” of the darkness begins there is no turning back. It is like trying to forget how to walk after you know how – you can’t unlearn awareness. That’s because life constantly moves us forward. The purpose of life is to learn, grow and evolve. Whether we like it or not, awareness of the darkness is there. Naturally we can take action to either “slow it down” or “speed it up” but we can never return to being blissfully unaware of living life in the dark again.If we truly want to come out of depression, we need to get back on track and undergo a whole of being transformation (often involving some physical, mental, emotional and spiritual transformations or shifts in perspective). The best and most effective way to journey out of the darkness is to seek holistic guidance. This helps to put an end to the continual suffering, confusion, hopelessness and isolation. Holistic help includes activities for the body, mind and spirit – all three are equally important on this journey. These may include activities such as taking better care of our body; relaxing our mind and being more aware of our thoughts; connecting with the natural world around us; working out what we want in life; practising yoga, tai chi or another form of body-mind-spirit connection; meditating; and discovering the purpose of our life.At first the truth about depression may seem overwhelming for someone with depression as self-discovery may seem like a lot of effort and a slow fix. Permanent quick fixes for depression however are extremely rare. The journey out of depression is a gradual process of increased awareness and a shift in consciousness that will continue for an entire lifetime. It’s an amazing journey of spiritual evolution and freedom. As each individual’s journey in life is unique, there is no set path that must be followed to come out of depression. Some common elements that may be required however are: a strong desire to come out of depression; patience; willingness to do some self-study; and courage to take a new and unexplored path in life.Depression is not a dark mystery – it is the signal that a person is “awakening” and seeking real joy and meaning in life. This awakening is one of life’s biggest hurdles and a person experiencing depression has already courageously jumped that hurdle. A life of light is already beginning for them. With some holistic help, self-discovery and increased awareness, they can get back on track, reignite their inner Spirit and start creating a meaningful and joyous life.
As a research scientist, I am asked what The Telltale Signs of Depression and Suicide are and befuddled, I say the usual, “search the web”! Since, I deal with diverse populations, many of the top search engines, especially health websites, are NOT always people of color’s “BFF’s”. When explaining to diverse groups about the symptoms of depression and suicide, there are plenty of “yes, buts” or “what ifs” that countermand adherence to medical directives. These actions still occur even when a Nobel Laureate physician wrote the major symptom section for the DSM-IV revised!I have personally witnessed on numerous diverse social media websites the grossly inaccurate information posted on them. I myself has been subject to ridicule and harassment. As a result, I am relaying and translating the societal and cultural nuances so that diverse laypeople all understand the key symptoms of depression and suicide. I am translating these symptoms for the African American community because I am African American and many people have come to me wondering if there is a way to identify these symptoms. Disturbingly, they may have lost a loved one to suicide and they wonder if there was anything more they could do to stop it. While reviewing top health websites for depression symptoms, I found there was a lack of cultural competency in explaining these symptoms. While it is clear that not ALL of these symptoms are seen in every case of depression or suicide, the key symptoms outlined in major online health websites do NOT translate with “any culturally nuanced depression symptoms”.At this time, I will not be listing what to do on how to manage these symptoms. I organized this “Translation Navigator” so that everyone is “on same page”. I mean no disrespect to those who understand this information, but seriously, looking at the mental health disparities, something MUST be done for the lack of cultural competence described in my symptom review. Anyone using this information is for entertainment purposes only and cannot be used as a diagnostic. Moreover, it can complement a professionally licensed health care provider’s directive, but it does not supplant or supersede any treatment plan by a licensed provider. Nor does it counteract against the written referenced material.The Translator/NavigatorCulturally Competent Telltale Signs for Depression in the African Americans
The inability to concentrate often resembles forgetfulness This symptom occurs almost everyday and people who are depressed often forget important tasks, like missing due dates for bills, or forgetting to call key people like doctors. It is not the casual forgetfulness of losing keys or dementia like getting lost, or even Alzheimer’s, which is VERY different! This forgetfulness is after a profound conversation/argument with the depressed person, and s/he STILL forgets to pay the cable bill!
Being fatigued or decreased energy If the depressed person goes to church Sunday at 11:00 AM, and then stops suddenly, to which s/he complains of fatigue or “I’m tired”, when they did nothing physically strenuous, then it probably a depression. It is the dramatic shift in routine over a month.
Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and/or helplessness These symptoms lack articulation by diverse depressed individuals. Moreover men do not discuss these feeling freely. If men say anything, it resembles blame on any perceivable target-usually the caregiver! Depressed women complain, whine, and then blame. Shortly, I will explain later how that resembles in diverse communities.
Hopelessness and/or pessimism Depressed individuals often have “sarcastic commentary” that teenagers are more than happy to provide whenever anybody makes comments. For example, when the caregiver says, “Let’s go to the Beach, it is a nice sunny day!”, a depressed individual would retort, “Why? To get burned by the sun!!!”
Insomnia or excessive sleeping: I have not noticed diverse depressed individuals to be unable to sleep unless they have an anxiety/PTSD or a mania, but I have seen sleeping all day for several days without being sick, or having that dark room, because light hurts. Depressed individuals often choose that darkened room during a sunny day rather than enjoying the outdoors–an active choice that is made.
Irritability or restlessness: Irritability often looks like whining and snapping at whatever is said. A caregiver could just say “BOO” and the depressed person combined with the feeling of guilt would bite the caregiver’s head off for saying it. The restlessness is often combined with the forgetfulness. Watch when they cook. Request the depressed person to make lemonade from powder and s/he will get flustered by making a simple recipe. And remember, the behavior is not random; it is consistent over a month or two.
Lost of interest in activities once pleasurable, includes sex: This symptom is combined with the forgetfulness, fatigue, guilt, pessimism and excessive sleepiness symptoms. It could be any activity that the depressed person enjoys often as a tradition or ritual, and for some unknown reasons it is suddenly dropped! An example is, with the “holidays approaching” the depressed loved one for no reason, refuses to participate in an activity once thoroughly enjoyed. It is not because s/he has a new life situation, but the excuse is that s/he does not want to do it and is likely to berates it. Remember, the behavior is consistent over a few weeks and is not completely random!
Changes in eating behavior: What a depressed individual does is overeat a lot of carbohydrates (carbs, sugars, etc.): breads, cakes, chocolates, candies and sugar! Apparently, the medical aspects of depression feeds off of glucose in the brain, the full mechanism is unknown. Moreover, the meal is one time of day–all day and does not stop until sleep! Alternatively, what a depressed person looks like when his/her appetite is lost, s/he has failed to shop for grocery and all that is left is something indistinguishable, often the depressed person is living off of something bizarre like gum or rationalizes vitamin supplements as nutrition. Most of the symptoms mesh with each other, so this one is combined with forgetfulness, inability making decisions, helplessness and hopelessness. Moreover starvation through dieting can cause the insomnia…
Persistent malaise: A depressed person complains all the time about physical issues and when s/he chooses to see a primary care physician, only the immediate aches and pains are treated with drugs rather than the psychotropic medications due to health treatment limitations and standards of care. Meaning, if there is no adherence to these drugs, why force the patient to take them? Laboratory tests and manifestations cannot convince the depressed person of his/her ailment is depression. Remember this is another symptom that meshes itself with other symptoms, so if this one symptom is seen, then it is likely that others will be seen…
Persistent negative thoughts: A depressed person says as a complaint or whine that “nobody likes them” or any absolute statements: NEVER, ALWAYS, and NOBODY. Often seen as a judgment with accusations: i.e. “You should’s” and “You must’s” and “everybody’s”. The empty feelings look like a comatose person-especially when asked a simple question like “How are you going today”? The depressed person will respond with a shrug or say “I don’t know” on a consistent basis. Remember, this type of symptom is meshed with the other ones. This symptom is a “trigger” symptom or a “red flag” symptom, meaning when you start hearing them frequently, more than 3 times overall, this is the time when the caregiver’s antenna needs to be raised and attempt to get professionally licensed help!!!
Thoughts of suicide: I cannot emphasize this statement any stronger: when this comment is made, it needs to be taken seriously! Whether or not there is a plan: DO NOT TAKE THIS COMMENT LIGHTLY! DO NOT DISCOUNT IT! By the time, the depressed person vocalizes it, s/he has actually intensely rationalized it and has given serious thoughts about it, and now they are beginning to venture out really to get help on it! PLEASE DO NOT TRY TO UNDERSTAND THIS SYMPTOM OR TALK THEM OUT OF IT! PLEASE GET THEM TO PSYCHIATRIC CARE!!! This key symptom is the neurophysiological course of the depression disease. Literally, the brain is damaging itself due to the aforementioned symptoms. It is thought that all the symptoms meshed together overload the system and crashes the “logic centers” of the brain–somewhat like a computer hard drive crashing. But in this case the other organs actually attempting to save the body at the same time: such as the heart, the muscles, the stomach, the liver and the kidneys, plus many more. The organs try to override this “cerebral self-destruct” button. Remember, this behavior is not always night and day, or random, but it does not lessen the impact, please watch this behavior closely.
So please permit me to use some creative license and combine some of the warning signs to suicide that I have translated into culturally competent text from major online health websites:There are some key symptoms that caregivers MUST watch and be vigilant with someone suffering from depression, especially as it relates to suicide! I cannot stress this enough the depressed individual is NOT about him/her being crazy or funny, this is about him/her suffering from a major medical neurophysiological disease like any other illness and requires professionally licensed care and treatment. Moreover, these are the telltale signs: These are the signs used when one does NOT want to say “if I could have done anything differently…” The way to think about this is the splinter in the tiger. The tiger by itself is a man eating animal, but when there is a splinter in the paw, the tiger writhes in pain and while you might think “it is not a big deal”, because it is a man-eating tiger and usually it will kill itself or gnaw off its paw off to minimize the pain. If someone removes the splinter, it is thought the tiger is grateful and remembers that person always. Loving a depressed individual, like that splintered tiger, is perilous and as a caregiver it takes a team to support that individual, which a licensed provider must be consulted. Unfortunately, hospitalization cannot be enforced upon any unwilling mentally ill person who has not committed a crime or threat. However, a caregiver, can learn about the basic suicide symptoms described below:
Suddenly switching from very sad (depressed) to calm/appearing happy or tranquil: While obviously stated, this symptom often this looks like the depressed person has found “resolution” to his/her problem. Unfortunately it is committing suicide… Like a wrong answer game show buzzer–EHHHN–this inaccurate conclusion erroneously looks like a calm in the suicidal ideation depressed individual. One way to confirm one’s thoughts are to ASK what his/her wants are. This is a question of autonomy, because it determines if a definitive decision has been made. If s/he has a formal plan with times and dates, get professionally licensed help immediately or call 9-1-1!
Always talking and writing about death: Listed as dressing in “Gothic paraphernalia”, like always wearing black like a vampire… Seriously, this is probably the most egregious example of culturally incompetence I have seen in regards to understanding suicidal ideation and symptoms. To make this symptom culturally competent for African Americans, this often resembles when young people attempt to look like or live like “gangsters” or “thugs”, with the guns, paraphernalia, and listening to “profane gangsta rap” or “thuggish” music and actually believing the lyrics are real. And the discussion looks like dark and dreary kinds of lifestyle, such as robbing people, misogyny, prostitution, and prison life, etc. This symptom meshes with another symptom as described later.
Having a “death wish”–taking unnecessary risks: such as running red lights… This symptom is another egregious example of missing the social determinants of health and the mental health disparity in diverse communities. In the African American community, especially for young men, running red lights is deadly in the United States, so that would not be something we would see often. The risk factors taken would probably be carrying a gun into a club as to protect oneself as an “unnecessary risk”. The death wishes we have is getting involved in very dangerous activities known to ruin one’s life and are self-destructive–which leads us to our next symptom
Substance abuse: Alcohol is a depressant, and some illegal substances, like marijuana and methamphetamine make irrational thoughts worse. Many people in our community abuse substances to self-medicate for their depression. It is a self-destructive habit. This is probably one of the single elements that is seen more in the African American community than others. The symptom looks over and beyond the normal consumption of these substances–a functional alcoholic or smoker, etc. And substance abuse treatment differs from depression treatment, while the two are intertwined inexplicably, first the addiction is treated then the mental health issue. More often than not most substance abusers RARELY get treated for their mental health issues.
Acting impulsively: Acting impulsively is doing something without thinking about it and letting the chips fall where they land–meaning if the depressed person dies, that will be where the chips landed… The depression symptoms are meshed with this suicide warning sign, such as guilt and hopelessness. It is reckless. One possibility is once they get that gun, what more will they do–such as robbery, going along with the violent crowd, rioting, killing people. The mentality is the suicidal person with erroneously thing that they have to see the end of this bad course of action.
Poor performance in school and work: Young people often have failing grades and it is known they are able to do the work. For adults, it accounts for massive sick days and absenteeism from work, lack of follow through on projects and missed deadlines. There may be some hostilities between the depressed loved one and co-workers. The depression symptoms seen meshed with this suicide warning sign are lack of concentration, fatigue and excessive sleeping.There may be others.
Putting affairs in order, tying up loose ends, writing/changing a will, giving away prized possessions: So many depressed African Americans feel they do not have anything, so changing wills is infrequent occurrence. This suicide warning sign resembles vandalism or destruction of property. The depressed person’s thinking is “Since I have nothing to lose (hopelessness) and everyone thinks I am worthless (guilt, worthlessness), I will vandalize this property by graffiti or I will destroy this property by stealing/thievery of key items”. What makes this illogical thinking occur in a depressed person is putting the affairs in order or tying up loose ends… This a suicidal warning sign shows the welcomed risk of arrest! As usual, this symptom travels with other depression symptoms as well as other suicidal warning signs like substance abuse or a death wish.
Feeling strong anger or rage: It has been told to me that depression is anger turned in on one’s self. The anger people have is due to unresolved hurts and pains or experiencing what is perceived as a traumatic event. Some people casually say, “This is what is called life, deal with it”! Saying this statement to a depressed person is an abusive, insensitive, destructive and harmful comment, because it will tip them over from thinking about suicide to actually committing suicide. The heartless comment often is misconstrued by a depressed person who is already having inaccurate absolute conclusions and this comment causes the person who cannot articulate in his/her feelings to verify his/her self-worth through the “depression and suicidal lenses”. What is seen is either the first suicidal warning sign of “listlessness” or “empty” feelings or an anger/rage unloading, often with crying. What causes this anger? I have a blog on anger as it is written from my bipolar POV at Crazy Black Woman
Remember, it should be noted that some people who commit suicide do not show ANY warning signs. So, loved ones may still feel, “I knew s/he was crazy, but…” And if caregiver’s actively see these symptoms and want to help him/her, judgment does not help them either! What is optimal is professionally licensed care and treatment! A few pastors have qualifications for mental health care treatment. If a pastor says that ONLY prayer or telling one to just be saved cures mental health, that is HOLY UNETHICAL!Many professionally licensed providers lack cultural sensitivity and could look “crazy” to you! Finding the what works for you is a personal choice. The key is to ask MANY DIRECT QUESTIONS, learn to navigate the mental health care system, and implement mental health and wellness goals! If that is of interest to you as a “diverse woman”, please feel free to join us at SistahMentalHealth dot com and start your PQ Interest Questionnaire TODAY!
Good mood is like a bright smile, extremely contagious. Happiness latches on with ease from one person to another. It is natural to feel happy being in the presence of someone brimming with joy and laughter. A similar domino effect is rekindled when one comes in contact with a person displaying anger or negative moods such as sadness and hopelessness. After a while, one gets conditioned to the same state. Psychologists have a name for what guides such behaviors – social contagion. According to this theory, behaviors or feelings exhibited by one person can guide the moods or behaviors of others.Depression is one of the most debilitating illnesses in the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) points out that nearly 300 million people across the world are affected by it. The disorder is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality. It increases the risks of comorbid health complications such as diabetes, hypertension and poor cardiovascular health.Depression and low moods are often confused as one and the same. However, while “feeling blue” is a result of temporary fluctuation in emotional balance, depression is a severe mental illness which normally arises when one experiences prolonged periods of sadness. A recent study delved into the inherent difference between depression and low mood and came up with some startling conclusions. According to the study, while moods are transmitted, depression is not.Differentiating between depression and low moodDuring the course of the study, the researchers analyzed data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health for conditions pertaining to mood. It also looked into seven common signs of depression – anhedonia or loss of interest in day-to-day activities, lack of appetite, clarity in routine work, prolonged grief, helplessness, worthlessness and tiredness. The levels of participants’ mood and depression were calculated using the Centre for Epidemiological Studies Depression scale (CES-D). The ratings based on the answers to the questions ranged from 0 to 54. Higher rating indicated worse mood. The results indicated the following:
The more the number of worse mood friends an American adolescent has, the more likely he/she would experience bad mood. They would also have lower chances of getting better.
The results were found to be similar for all depressive symptoms underlined earlier except appetite.
The researchers observed that depression did not spread in the same manner, suggesting that clinical depression is more than a mere experience of low mood as commonly believed. However, low mood is a result of depressive state, which can reduce social interactions during the process.The criticality of the study can be assuaged from the fact that it addresses the issue of teenage or adolescent depression which is rife in recent times. According to the authors, the subthreshold levels of depressive symptoms is a cause of concern as it lowers the quality of life considerably. Untreated condition can continue into adulthood and strain personal and professional relationships.The researchers suggest that friendships should be forged as long as they help in spreading happiness and reducing the risk of depression; the aim should be to stop spreading negative mood. Based on the observations, individuals in the subthreshold who had friends with lower CES-D scores were more likely to improve their mood to the extent that they could be no longer classified as depressed.Acting before it is too lateIdentifying the signs of depression during early stages is of critical importance to contain the symptoms from aggravating. Interventions and best practices in schools and colleges should aim at improving one’s circle of friends. It is also essential to keep a check on one’s negative moods from time to time to identify traces of any impending illness. If a person going through depression is not treated soon, there is a grave risk of him or her committing suicide.
Depression is called a “disease,” but it is so much more; it’s a state of separation. People suffering from depression tend to feel separate from everything and everyone, including themselves. The word “depressed” is frequently misused in our society. Many people use the word depressed to describe when they are feeling sad, but “depression” is so much more than sadness. There are a variety of factors in depression, as well as varying degrees per individual; it can be all of them or a mixture of them, which is why depression is often easily mistaken or overlooked. Many of the depressed people themselves do not recognize their symptoms for what they truly are. Some of the main debilitating factors are: A tendency to feel lost and alone, feelings of hopelessness, unmotivated and disinterested in most or all things, an inability to think clearly, lethargy, a disturbance in eating or sleeping or both (i.e. binge eating or insomnia) and crying inexplicably. Some manage to continue functioning but do so with symptoms interfering significantly. Others can be around many people and still feel terribly alone.Depression has many masks and some sufferers even hide it intentionally out of shame and fear. Others minimize their symptoms not wanting to admit they are depressed and even lie to their doctors resulting in being undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. This confusion of recognition in itself is a huge problem. It is also common for those who encounter a depressed person to feel uncertain as to “how to react” or “what to do,” and feel awkward and helpless. This helplessness tends to make people want to fix things or run away, but those who stay and want to help would benefit greatly from detailed guidelines that explain exactly how to accommodate what is needed. It isn’t easy for those observing depression to understand why the person suffering doesn’t just jump up and act on the suggestions given as solutions when they seem so possible and realistic, but looking through the eyes and experience of depression is nothing like the reality others see. People who mean well and try to “fix” the depressed with suggestions or solutions tend to do so in an unemotional manner and depression is an emotional and usually chemically imbalanced state, so to the depressed, cerebral offerings feel invalidating and the furthest from they are truly needing, which comes from the heart; understanding, sensitivity, compassion, support and love.That natural tendency for others to want to fix a depressed person can be destructive for several reasons, a few being: The unintentionally harmful assessment that they “need to be fixed,” which only serves as confirmation to the depressed person that they are in fact broken, and are as defective as they already view themselves; another is, any of those offered “solutions,” may sound relatively simple to those not depressed, but they sound confusing to those unable to think clearly, causing additional feelings of overwhelm. Sometimes, even hearing suggestions while depressed can feel overwhelming because it contributes to the already existing feelings of guilt for not doing what they themselves have already thought of but feel too immobilized to accomplish with no energy, hope or desire to achieve them.Depression makes it appear and feel like there is no answer, no matter what the suggestion or offer of help, which subsequently increases the horrible feelings of hopelessness and futility; and, what increases their feelings of isolation is the repeated proof that no one understands what they’re going through, as indicated by the intellectual and sometimes patronizing suggestions they receive. This can cause them to get defensive which confuses those who thought they were helping. Many depressed people are so consumed by their overwhelming “cocoon of depression” that it doesn’t even occur to them to reach out for help, and for some, the depression worsens due to not having anyone to reach out to. Depression can easily create the perception and belief that you aren’t worthy of help, or for that matter even asking for it and all you feel is defective and lost in the maze of your dark world. Then there are those who think of it and want to call someone but feel scared to do so for fear of other’s reactions, or worse, interference that can feel threatening, i.e. being taken out of their surroundings that feel safe while depressed or being taken to a hospital against their wishes and losing control of whether or not they can leave.Depressed people who have previously felt confident and competent, and still do at times, feel they can’t reveal their depression to others for fear that the labels of incapable and incompetent will remain no matter what else changes down the road; this tends to cause them to isolate all the more, intensifying the depression. The world at large needs to learn more about the needs of the depressed, other than the list of symptoms and known chemical solutions, to ensure that the whole person is addressed; with the increasing global catastrophes and personal crises happening more frequently we had better. We all need to know what to do if it happens to us or someone we know. Understanding and compassion are at the forefront of what is needed, followed by the very necessary practical help and support. Listening to what the depressed person’s perception is, to understand the darkness they are experiencing, is necessary no matter how scary; and if you listen with your intellect it will make no sense, since there is no logic found in that darkness. If you think you are scared of it imagine how it feels to them! Listening to all they have to say, and really hearing them, extends the gift of validation and dignity, as well as alleviating much of their aloneness with it.The unexplained crying bouts and emotional outbursts increases the discomfort and feelings of helplessness of others, which only stresses the importance of the person present checking in with their own heart to ensure they are focusing on being emotionally present; just “being with them” with compassion, caring and empathy is the greatest gift you can give. Being with people who are crying, including those not suffering from depression, makes a person feel less alone and comforted. That alleviation of feeling all alone with depression is enormously helpful, so for those who truly want to help, learn what it takes to “be emotionally available.” So many people find being emotionally available challenging, but it’s necessary for everyone, not just the depressed. Some depressed people want or need to talk or cry, or both, to get things out that have been bottled up inside, whether relevant to their present circumstances or not. For others it’s the opposite, they just want company and don’t want to think or talk. If they do want to talk, remember to just listen and don’t intellectualize or try to fix whatever they verbalize, they feel great safety from someone who listens from an emotional point of view. AFTER they’re done with their venting or verbal unloading you could ask them if they would like some suggestions. If you just offer suggestions, the depressed person could feel overwhelmed, due to not feeling like they could possibly accomplish what is said and feel worse for it, but asking them if they would like some suggestions empowers them (since this particular question feels like caring in the way they need) because it indicates they can have control over something, at a time that they feel they have no control at all. This feels empowering to make a choice and decision in an area they feel capable, which may seem small to others but is positive and huge to them.If you clearly recognize a person is depressed and mention it and they try to minimize it, trying to hide it, don’t let that sway you if you feel your recognition is accurate, be gentle and venture in slowly, especially if they are not ready for the depression to be visible; start with caring, nurturing gestures; fixing them a cup of tea, or something to eat, sitting and talking (but don’t go deep and heavy right away if they seem reluctant, unless they do first), watching TV or a movie together or if they are open to it, getting outside for a walk and some fresh air. Sometimes leaving the house when depressed can feel too exposing and unsafe. Even trying to decide what to wear and getting dressed can feel overwhelming for depressed people (when mentally confused, making any decision can feel too challenging) so lending a practical hand in this area would be helpful as well. Perhaps they need other practical help like food in the house (because a lot of depressed people have isolated and have not gone to the store or even eaten for that matter) or some form of medicine, or if they haven’t showered for a while gently encouraging them to take a shower; volunteering to pick out their clothes for them and literally leading them to the shower and doing the prep work, turning on the water and adjusting the temperature, laying out the towel, shampoo, etc. These things may seem small and insignificant to people not depressed but they are significant to those who can’t think clearly and have no motivation for the slightest things.People often do not understand how much practical help is needed when a person is depressed person due to the overwhelm factor. You can ask what is needed to see if they are able to say but often you might have to look around and see what needs to be done or what hasn’t been done in a while. Perhaps do the dishes, or tidy up (when depressed it is natural to let everything go), open the windows for air and light, make the house more comfortable instead of feeling like a cave or prison. These are things that a depressed person might very well not think of. Depression can be very confusing. Thoughts tend to go in circles and it feels exhausting so you just give up even trying to make the smallest decisions. What can help a person consumed by depression the MOST is someone acknowledging how they are feeling; the sadness, the aloneness, the inability to think clearly and feeling lost and everything else they are actually experiencing without judgment! Acknowledging the reality that they are experiencing is joining them where they feel the most alone and changing that. Most people are afraid to do this because they think they are encouraging the depression or sadness but the opposite is true. It makes the depressed person feel less alone.Depressed people feel so full of despair and hopelessness that frequently they experience suicidal feelings, but in actuality it’s not their life they want to end it’s the tunnel of pain, darkness and isolation; but the distorted perception of depression does not afford them the ability to make the distinction between the two. If you or anyone you know might be suffering from depression or even suspect so, don’t let fear, shame or judgment stop you from reaching out for help, to family, a friend or a professional; no one has to be alone in the dark. Until depression is addressed successfully we will continue to watch many people slip away into darkness. The rest of the world must learn to embrace and include those suffering from this dark demon to help bring them back to the light.
If you are suffering from depression, you are not alone.Depression affects many people at some time in their life, with some of us going through periods of depression that can lift after a very short time, while for others, it can be ingoing for many years.Whichever category you fall into, here are some simple tips to help you manage your depression.Depression – What is it?Depression is best identified as feeling in a low mood. It may not stop you leading a normal life, but things may seem less worthwhile.Most of us will admit to feeling depressed from time to time and this is perfectly normal.Depression becomes a problem when it interferes with your day to day activities.What Causes Depression?Depression may be caused by an imbalance of chemicals in the brain or can be triggered by significant life events including:-o Bereavemento A traumatic experience, such as rape or physical attacko Childhood eventso Illnesso Frequent use of recreational drugsHow Do I Know if I am Depressed?Symptoms of depression may include:-o Preoccupation with negative thoughtso Difficulty in concentratingo Feeling in a low mood most of the timeo Feelings of numbness, emptiness or despairo Low self-esteemo Lack of sex driveo Lack of confidenceo Pessimistic view of the futureThis is no a definitive list and you may experience all or some of these symptoms.You may also notice changes in your sleeping pattern, your eating habits, or there may be a rise in your alcohol or tobacco consumption.Depression – Helping YourselfKnowledge is power. The more you learn about depression, the better equipped you will be to deal with it.Go to the library, do some research on the internet or join a self-help group where you can gather information about depression and the treatments available.Being aware of the choices available to you will help you to make an informed choice about treatment if you need to seek help from your healthcare provider.Whereas many of us may experience bouts of mild depression or low mood, clinical depression is a serious medical condition and if you have been experiencing symptoms described above for some time you should seek medical help as soon as possible.Depression – Don’t Suffer in SilenceWhile clinical depression is a serious illness, it can be treated and you do not need to feel ashamed, embarrassed or suffer in silence.Some people allow depression to go untreated for years but clinical depression will not disappear by itself.
Professional help may include a course of antidepressants together with some counseling.Depression – Help YourselfHelplessness is a feeling often experienced by people with depression.Together with professional help try and help yourself.o Stay focused – depression can feed on itself and you can find yourself trapped in a vicious circle of negative thoughts that it seems impossible to get out of. Focus on positive thought and the positive things in your life. If you can’t think of any, think of a positive goal you would like to achieve.o Avoid your own company – depression feeds on loneliness. Try and break the hold that depression has on you. Join a club or self-help group where you can talk to people who have successfully overcome depression.o Do something worthwhile. Keeping yourself busy will give you less time to dwell on pessimistic thoughts. Take up a hobby or why not join a gym. Regular exercise will have a mental and physical impact on your wellbeing.o Let go of the past. Many of us make the mistake of hanging on to past hurts and this too can cause depression. If there are things in your life that have caused you upset, past grudges, guilt or anger, perhaps it is time to let go.Depression is not an easy thing to overcome but it can be done, all you have to do is make he decision to make a change.
So you missed the flight and got lost on the way home! Or maybe you just got ditched by your long term companion! An exam did not go through as well as you thought. Some one close suddenly passed away! For a substantial number of people, these are some of the many reasons that can set up a cascade of thoughts leading to depression. Whatever the reason that started it, once you are in the “loop” you just feel inclined to think of the few most depressing aspects of your life! Some people are born resilient and can easily overcome this. For most others however it leads to a few days or even weeks of self loathing and regret.But depression can be objectively analysed and self healed. It does not take a lot to control your mind to be free from depression. Even in the worst of circumstances, a clear thinking mind is of more value than a mind that is depressed and afraid to act. So how can depression be beaten on its own turf? How can you play the game of cat and mouse with depression and come out winning every time? What are the thought processes that make a resilient mind?Rule No. 1: Treat depression as a person and not as a thought!Depression is a process in your brain. In fact when you are depressed you are an altered version of your self. Whatever may have started the cycle of depression – at the lowest point you are the same “altered” image of your self. Once you realize this you can treat the battle with depression as a battle with your altered self. This “other person” has a set of characteristics – that you already know of! So when you are depressed write down your behavioral pattern some where in bulleted text – to make your mind remember this “other self” completely.Rule No. 2: Start making a list of normal day to day activities that you hate doing when you are depressed and then try to do them without emotion!We all do certain things when we are depressed, and are loathe to do certain other things when we are sad. These activities which irk you during a depression – are actually the key to beating depression. That is because it will not take much on your part to learn to do these activities objectively and without emotion. Try doing these activities when you are normal, but do them mechanically – Step 1, Step 2, Step 3…etc. Break up these activities into steps and just follow the routine! Once this can be achieved (even for a couple of such tasks) – you can do them just when you are starting to get depressed. This sets up a reverse feedback loop. You are proactively using the cues from your depression to convince your own mind – that you are not depressed!Rule no. 3: Understand that your happiest thoughts are equal to your most depressed thoughts, and that all your thoughts are equal to just a handful of processes in an organic machine!This usually is the most difficult thing to achieve for most depressed souls. Since depression makes you more emotional – logical reasoning usually fails. But the key here is not to start this process of logic when you are depressed, but rather when you are happy! So when you are your happiest self – just pause for a moment and verbally say aloud (quietly if you want it to be private – but do say it ) – “I am extremely happy but I understand that this is a chain of thoughts in my brain. I want this chain of thought to exist in my brain always. I want to cultivate this way of thinking”. After you are able to remember and do this successfully every time that your are happy, start using this method to fight depression. Whenever you get depressed say: “I am very sad but I understand that this is a chain of thoughts in my brain. I do not want to think this way. I will try my best to think in the way that makes me feel the happiest.”Rule no. 4: Choose an arbitrary new activity if you find yourself going into the loop.When you are depressed, trying to do things that make you feel good land up feeling hollow and eventually these activities may completely fail to provide joy – even on the days that your are not depressed. That is because once you do it while you are depressed a sad feeling gets associated with the activity. This leads to new connections in your brain – which may in fact make the activity less desirable in the future! The best solution to this – use an arbitrary activity to distract yourself. Borrow your friends guitar and strum it – even if you have hardly ever touched a guitar all you life! Try to cook something – even if you do not know a single recipe! Jog to the mall! Buy a leather whip and beat a wall! Do something that you can do discreetly and without looking like a fool – and yet is completely different from your usual activities. This will distract your mind and prevent it from turning into your “other self”.Rule no. 5: Verbalize, write down and analyse your depressive thoughts, and then fight them when your are stronger.When you are most depressed – use some of your time to write down the things that are making you depressed and why you are feeling the regret and unhappiness. Afterward when you are your most energetic self and feeling happy – pit your mind against those depressive thoughts. This is often the most abhorred step and yet is the most beneficial. There is a slim chance that looking at your depressed thoughts can make you a little “less” happy, but the very fact that you decided to take the fight to your altered depressed self, makes it more likely that you will not falter the next time this “other person” is trying to get a grip over you. Keep repeating the word “ridiculous” as you read through your list of reasons for your depression! It is like training your mind for the battle – so the next time you are much stronger on the battlefield!These are some of the important tools to fight depression in a proactive manner. This is not superficial advice which makes you feel good as you read it. That is in fact the job of the therapist. No! These are tools to reach the remedy and not the remedy it self. This advice is for you – if you want to teach yourself the method to beat depression. Use them to slowly gain confidence and when you are “ready”, you feel lighter at your whim – in the worst of circumstance!