Monday, June 05, 2006

Depression - up close and personal

I posted distanced little helpful essays here a few days ago, full of helpful links with lists of symptoms of depression like these:

# A change in appetite (eating too much or too little).
# Problems with sleep (either insomnia or sleeping longer than usual).
# A loss of interest or pleasures. (It may take a form of withdrawing from family or neglecting formerly enjoyed hobbies.)
# The inability to sit still, pacing or hand-wringing ("agitation"). Or slowed speech, increased pauses before answering a question, monotonous speech, slow body movements or an overall decrease in energy level ("retardation").
# A sense of worthlessness or feelings of inadequacy, and other forms of negative thinking, including inappropriate guilt.
# Recurring thoughts of death and/or suicide.
# Difficulty concentrating, slow thinking, indecisiveness (the smallest task may seem difficult or impossible to accomplish).
# Memory difficulty and easy distraction.
# Fatigue

That is all well and good. I suppose it helps a psychologist decide; maybe it even helps you decide, if you are clinically depressed, not just sad or blue.

I can tell you that it does not begin to describe the sensations of being really depressed. The black mood, the sense that nothing is ever going to be alright again, just are not really captured. The sense that you are shrinking down to a dustmote until you are just going to disappear, boy that isn't covered at all.

And while there may be reasons for the depression, such as chronic stress, there may be no reason at all. Just a biochemical imbalance, or a neurochemical "scar" created in your past.

If you are feeling like this, CALL, CALL for help! Doctors can give you anti-depressants. This is not a matter of will power or character defect == this is more like a diabetic needing insulin. Start now. Call right now.

If you can't call the doctor, call a friend, a sister, a brother. Tell them how you feel, and that you need their help. Don't wait.

The image is the cover of a book on treating childhood depression by David G. Fassler, M.D. and Lynne S. Dumas featured at


Anonymous said...

Great post! I have endogenous or clinical depression, caused by an imbalance of chemical in the brain. It wasn't diagnosed until I was in my 30s. Once I got on anti-depressants, my life improved so much it was almost miraculous. Suicidal thoughts and attempts are a thing of the past. I can now live a normal life.

Your analogy to a diabetic is right on the mark. Depression sufferers need anti-depressants to live just as diabetics need insulin. And, for me at least, it is a lifetime thing. I will not "get over it" or "get better." But it can be controlled with medication.

I agree--if you are always down, not just when something bad happens, but all the time--consult a psychiatrist who can prescribe medication. It will change your life! (and, in my case, save it.)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing very important information! I've had three close calls with a loved one who suffers with bi-polar depression. It's a brain malfunction, not a character flaw.
Pat Orr

Betsy McKenzie said...

Thank you for your responses. It takes courage to share so openly.