CLINICAL DEPRESSION IS A SERIOUS ILLNESS
Real Health is not an absence of illness. Real Health is feeling positive, alive, energetic, empowered, physically and mentally well, happy even. Most of us have known that good feeling of self-reliant love for oneself and the world around us from time to time. Conversely, some of us have known what it is to have an absence of feelings other than a feeling of impending, formless, grey doom and despair. The utter helpless hopelessness that can prevent us from performing even simple tasks, such as dragging ourselves out of bed to visit the bathroom, eating, thinking even. This latter type of negative health may not be simple sadness. Some people suffer from periods of depression ~ incapacitating gloom and doom that can lead to loss of personal identity and a death wish.
Clinical Depression is different from unhappiness. Unhappy people can identify the reason for their unhappiness, talk about it, deal with it, get through it. In depression there seems no way to cope so the sufferer’s brain switches off feelings and the person becomes emotionally dead and utterly isolated. Regrettably, any good and redeeming feelings there may be floating around are switched off along with all of the bad feelings. Descriptions vary, some say it’s like being in fog, in a white room, alone in the dark, crushed under a heavy weight of dull misery.
Anyone can suffer from depression, although some seem to have a lifelong battle with the black dog while others can sail through life without once knowing the killing self-doubt of pointlessness. The causes of this curse may have been created as far back as childhood. ‘We are not interested in you. I do not love you. You are nothing. You are not important to me.’ If one get’s much of that in childhood you’re not set up to be full of joy later in life. Not that it makes much difference to the sufferer, but the people in white coats recognise more than one type of depression;
- Exogenous. This is reactive depression caused mostly by an outside event. Bereavement, physical illness, betrayal by a loved one, losing one’s job…
- Endogenous. This kind of depression comes from within. This may be the kind of depression that has its roots in a lack of nurturing childhood love.
- Mixed. Obviously, anyone with a tendency to suffer from a depression coming from within can have a depressive episode triggered by an outside event. Being constantly miserable may be enough to chase one’s significant other into the arms of another.
- Smiling depression. Nobody sees the tears of a clown.
- Masked depression. This is very difficult to recognise because the person the depression is hidden from is you ~ as well as depression you are suffering from self-deception. The symptoms are most likely to be physical rather than obviously emotional.
- Manic Depression. In its severe form this is more properly known as Bipolar Disorder, and is most likely a genetic disease because it seems to run in families. This illness is characterised by severe mood swings, which may take months to switch from depression to elation.
- S.A.D. Seasonal Affective Disorder. When the nights start to draw in and the weather changes, S.A.D. sufferers feel worse and worse as winter approaches. Often the symptoms of depression abate with the approach of spring, but if this happens year after year it can be a debilitating condition.
If you are depressed for the first time it is very difficult to know what is going on. The brain slows down and it becomes difficult to think, let alone to think about what may be wrong. Generally, if you feel very low, if everything seems hopeless, if there is no interest or joy in life, and if this goes on for days, weeks, months… then you may be suffering from clinical depression. If you are self-aware enough, and you have been feeling like this for a couple of weeks, then you need to see your doctor. Don’t just bottle it up, try to get some outside help.
The symptoms of depression can be complex but the warning signs are;
- A feeling of doom.
- Feeling helpless and hopeless.
- Loss of interest in everything and everyone.
- A feeling of infinite detachment and indifference.
- Loss of energy.
- Inability to perform daily routines.
- Inability to concentrate.
- Sleep changes.
- Anger, irritability, reckless behaviour.
- Either a loss of appetite or compulsive eating, or both.
- Excessive consumption of alcohol, tobacco, drugs, gambling, casual sex, reckless driving.
- Aches and pains for no obvious reason.
- Self loathing.
- A feeling that you would be better off dead.
Attempted suicide is only too common for people with severe clinical depression. If you are drinking heavily or taking drugs during depression, then you may be even more at risk. Mix depression, alcohol, reckless behaviour, and over the counter analgesics and you have a very dangerous combination. If you are self-aware enough there is one key warning sign. Feeling as though you would be better off dead is bad enough. Starting to do anything about it means that you are in serious personal danger. Warning signs include; putting your affairs in order, saying goodbyes, planning how you will do it, buying the necessary drugs / whatever, a sudden feeling of peace and calmness…
If you see these signs in yourself or in a loved one, then you need to seek immediate help. As well as your own doctor there are The Samaritans, Alcoholics Anonymous, The Church, and your own friends and family.
Curing your own depression is very difficult. One of the symptoms of depression is an inability to do very much of anything at all, up to and including helping yourself out of the deep hole you are in. However, there are some things you can do, both in the short and long-term;
- Stop taking drugs, other than anything given to you by your doctor.
- Stop drinking so much booze.
- Eat sensibly, even if it tastes like cardboard.
- Stop isolating yourself. Get outside among people, make a telephone call.
- Take some gentle exercise.
- Establish a regular routine. Go to bed, get up, get clean and dressed, eat…,
- Talk to people who have the ability and experience to understand, or just talk to anybody about anything.
- Do some work of some kind, even if it’s just reading.
- See your doctor.
- Stop lying to yourself and others.
There is a lot your doctor can do for you but it boils down to medication and / or ‘talking therapies.’ Neither of these is an overnight miracle. It may have taken your whole life to get into the slough of despond, getting out of it may take a while. However, once you stop going downhill you will start to feel better.
If you feel as though you would be better off dead, then get immediate help.