What is it, how does it operate, have you got it, and what can you do about it.
These days it seems that depression is a common. It is likely that if you don’t have this disease yourself, you probably know someone who does.
What is it?
Depression is defined as “a low sad state in which life seems dark and its challenges overwhelming.” (Comer, 2007) We all have times in our lives when this happens. When we grieve for the loss of a loved one, when we loose our job, when our marriage is “falling apart.” This state is normal; it provides us a time for reflection and connection to ourselves. Carl Jung, one of the founding fathers of modern psychology went so far as to suggest that our psychological symptoms stem from our need to be whole in relation to ourselves, and that these symptoms contain the clues needed to heal us. As a therapist I believe that there is some truth in this concept. Being in a depressed state as I mentioned before is normal, where it becomes problematic is when this disease becomes extended, chronic, and interferes with normal daily functioning over time. (Comer, 2007)
Clinical depression is quite different from general depression in that it can cause “long lasting psychological pain that may intensify as time goes by. (Comer 2007) Symptoms of Clinical Depression fall into roughly five categories, emotional, motivational, behavioural, cognitive, and physical.
Emotional symptoms may include feeling miserable, sad, hollow or dejected. I have heard those with depression speak of being in a black fog or hole and being unable to get out of it. For some, the frustration of being in this state may also lead them to feel angry, frustrated or agitated. (Comer 2007) Adolescents and children may exhibit symptoms of irritably or crankiness. (APA 2004)
Motivation of those who are clinically depressed is severely limited. Just getting up to go to work may seem impossible. Insurance companies who recognize the loss of productive workers to this disease support this observation. This lack of motivation in the clinically depressed person is carried into all aspects of life. There is a loss of interest in even what may have been a passion in daily life. (APA 2004)
Behaviour symptoms of depression may be expressed through lessened activity levels, a greater requirement for sleep. This may be due to the negative emotions and lack of motivation. (DSM 2004) Our behaviour is tied very closely to our emotions and thinking processes and if these two are distorted, it is likely that the behaviour will reflect this.
Thinking or Cognitions are also closely tied to emotions and behaviour. Depressive symptoms in thinking may be a highly negative view of self, or pessimism, which may translate into a feeling of inadequacy, inferiority, or being undesirable. In severe cases thoughts of death or suicidal ideation may be expressed. (Comer 2007)(APA 2004)
Physical Symptoms of depression may include headaches, indigestion, constipation, dizzy spells and general pain. (Comer 2007)
Medically, depression has been defined that if five of the criteria for depression have been met, during a two-week period then clinical depression is diagnosed. The criteria include:
- 1) thoughts of suicidal ideation or death,
- 2) difficulty in thinking or decision making,
- 3) feelings of worthlessness or guilt,
- 4) fatigue or loss of energy every day,
- 5) restlessness observed by others,
- 6) insomnia or hypersomnia,
- 7) weight loss or substantial weight change,
- 8) loss of interest or pleasure in most activities,
- 9) depressed mood.
(APA 2004) For a more comprehensive diagnosis, you may refer to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders fourth edition written by the American Psychiatric Association.
If you recognize that you have the symptoms listed this is the first step in the treatment process. There is help so don’t despair. If you recognize that you have the more severe symptoms, such as thoughts of death and or suicidal ideation, go directly to the hospital or emergency clinic where you will under direct medical supervision. This may seem somewhat drastic, but it is necessary. Treatment may include both therapy and or medication depending on the severity the depression. For less severe cases or post emergency depressive conditions call me and we can set up an appointment to help you deal with this issue. It is not necessary that you go through life with the burden of depression upon your shoulders.
Next News Blogs, How Does Depression Function:
American Psychiatric Association (2000) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 4th Ed. Arlington VA. American Psychiatric Publishing.
Comer, R.J. (2007) Abnormal Psychology, sixth edition. New York, N.Y.; Worth Publishers.