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When German psychiatrist, Kurt Schneider, coined the term "depression" as a replacement for what was previously called melancholia, he unknowingly performed a spectacular disservice. The term, "depression," infers that you can merely cheer up to alleviate the disorder. We now know that depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain and, left untreated, can cause the brain to actually shrink in size and lead to permanent brain damage.

Depression is common. At any given time, 1 person in 11 will have depression. Depression is treatable with medication and up to 80% of those people find relief, yet only 27% seek treatment. Depression is a VERY SERIOUS condition, a potentially fatal disease - 1 in 29 will end their life in suicide, more common than deaths from Alzheimer's, homicide, arteriosclerosis, and hypertension. They are four times as likely to suffer a heart attack than people without a history of depression, and are at a significantly higher risk of death or a second heart attack.

In fact, prolonged sadness is but one of many symptoms which may or may not include changes in appetite and sleep patterns, irritability, anger, worry, agitation, anxiety, pessimism, indifference, loss of energy, persistent lethargy, feelings of guilt and worthlessness, inability to concentrate, indecisiveness, inability to take pleasure in former interests, social withdrawal, short-term memory loss, recurring thoughts of death or suicide, and in extreme cases, psychosis (hearing voices and/or seeing hallucinations) and physical pain.

People with depression benefit greatly from friends who say they are there for them and are willing to listen.

For more information about depression, consult the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance website at http://www.dbsalliance.org.

Originally posted to Christian Democrat on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 08:38 PM PST.

Also republished by Mental Health Awareness.

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Comment Preferences

  •  So I just spent a half hour writing a short (13+ / 0-)

    paragraph to a friend with depression.  Sometimes she is fine, sometimes she can't deal with anyone.  I had the feeling the last couple weeks was the later, so my conundrum was how to inquire without insulting her.  Always tough for me.  I tried to start the conversation by telling her the fun things I had planned for Christmas and asked what she was doing--was that a good move or to a depressed person did that just sound like bragging?

    The more you learn the less you know.

    by quiet in NC on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 08:57:15 PM PST

    •  My guess? (14+ / 0-)

      Because I don't know you or your friend?

      I don't think you can go wrong if you're being emotionally honest and accepting of emotional honesty.

      I'm not saying the GOP is nearing irrelevance but they're putting out a Christmas album.
      ~~ LOLGOP

      by smileycreek on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 09:02:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Better to be honest than walk on eggshells. (9+ / 0-)

      I supposed there are some circumstances where something you say might completely upset the person even more--but you can't know that, and these things aren't rational anyway.

      I think tact/over-sensitivity is a dangerous thing as it allows people to continue to avert certain internal conflicts/confrontations and honest assessments that might actually serve them well.

    •  Start by saying something like... (16+ / 0-)

      ...I know you feel bad and I want you to know that, despite that, I want you in my life, and, I'll let you decide how that'll be, and, let me know if there's anything I can do to help, even if it's just listening unjudgementally to you.

      Ultimately, reassuring the depressed person that you appreciate them, even when they feel like shit, is one of the most important things a friend can do for someone suffering from depression. As someone who's suffered from depression a lot, one of my greatest fears is that the people who try to cheer me up will think that I'm dragging them down when I feel bad. When I feel bad, I don't want them to feel bad too as a result of my feeling bad.

    •  having been there (10+ / 0-)

      I have to say that telling a depressed person about all the fun you are going to have isn't always the best way to go. It can be a reminder that their life isn't that great (or worse).

      I think some of the suggestions here are good. Asking how she is doing, seeing if there is some way you two can get together, basically trying to be empathic towards her might have a better response from her.

      Hope things work out.

    •  Having been / still being there.. (5+ / 0-)

      I would say that the above commenter's advice is probably correct; remember, she's not so likely to find fun what you find fun, and could instead place her in a very anxiety-ridden position.

      Commiserating with guarded optimism and a "light at the end of the tunnel" manner, so-to-speak, is probably your best bet at interacting with her and make her feel better. At least it was for me.

      oh and, DON'T give or encourage her to eat unhealthy foods.. It's strongly becoming my belief that Depression is in large part a result of poor nutrition (and things like a deficiency in B6 and zinc) with a genetic component.

    •  Find out what she likes and ask about that (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      True North, SoCalSal, quiet in NC

      What her favorite TV show is, what she likes to read, etc.

      Try to involve her in doing something around the things she likes.

      I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.

      by Futuristic Dreamer on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 11:36:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Listening (6+ / 0-)

      It is good for you to reach out to her, while still being sensitive about the possibility she can't deal with anyone at the moment.

      My suggestion is that you practice your skills at empathetic listening when you're with her.

      I have a friend who worries about me and my depression. She's very talkative and has a lot to say about her own life and struggles. There isn't enough space in the conversations with her for me to say anything about my life. When I'm depressed, I'm just slower at conversation and it is difficult for me to put my perspective into words. I'm no good at jumping into a conversation when the other person pauses to take a breath.

      My suggestion is that you just be available to listen and to make some occasional supportive remarks, but not to give advice about how to solve whatever problems she talks about, and definitely without being judgmental. Just listen with complete concentration, not thinking about what you'll say next.

      In my experience, most people would much rather talk than listen, and most people who seem to be in listening mode are really thinking about what they're going to say. Very few people really listen with deep empathy.

      •  RE: thinking about what to say... (0+ / 0-)

        instead of really listening...that is one of my worst habits and am trying to change it.  Thanks everyone for the advice.  They all have been helpful and obviously well intentioned.  What a great group here!

        The more you learn the less you know.

        by quiet in NC on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 07:49:17 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  engaged listening, not advice giving (0+ / 0-)

          I read a wonderful piece a few years ago by someone who really concentrated on listening to people.

          He wanted to be really engaged, paying attention to what the person said.

          But where he drew the line: he refrained from giving advice. He said that he had to learn how to not give in to the temptation to give advice.

          For one thing, it actually adds to the listener's sense of being burdened by the friend if the listener thinks he or she should be able to "help" the friend with advice.

          Secondly, most of us have experienced talking to somebody about a problem, where it would just help to share how we feel and maybe verbalize some thoughts about what to do--but then the friend is jumping in to give advice and the whole conversation changes over to a debate on the best thing to do.

          As I recall, the guy said that he waits a bit until he is quite sure the person has finished speaking. He doesn't start talking as soon as the other person stops.

          I had to practice this for a long time to get better at it. Like a lot of people, I was better at talking than listening. I had to practice. A lot.

    •  Have you thought of asking her to join in some of (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      quiet in NC

      the merriment, as appropriate?

      The elevation of appearance over substance, of celebrity over character, of short term gains over lasting achievement displays a poverty of ambition. It distracts you from what's truly important. - Barack Obama

      by helfenburg on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 03:31:27 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Depression is also treatable by other methods (21+ / 0-)

    besides medication, but I say whatever helps you is good, and it's essential to find help. With few exceptions, the more you isolate the worse it gets.

    I'm not saying the GOP is nearing irrelevance but they're putting out a Christmas album.
    ~~ LOLGOP

    by smileycreek on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 08:59:45 PM PST

      •  Been there. (14+ / 0-)

        I'm not saying the GOP is nearing irrelevance but they're putting out a Christmas album.
        ~~ LOLGOP

        by smileycreek on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 09:06:48 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I've had times when I said I was too depressed (15+ / 0-)

        to commit suicide.
        There's a lot of depression and bipolar diagnosis in my family.

        I recommend walking, above all other therapies. Not that the other therapies and medication shouldn't be utilized.
        If one can't walk, they should come up with a substitute.
        Walking requires no health insurance, money, equipment other than shoes (and clothes), training, etc.
        It's something you can do that will make you feel better.
        It makes you healthier, and it's a positive habit (if you make it a habit), which is an important point.

        You can't make this stuff up.

        by David54 on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 09:19:16 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Walking is terrific (11+ / 0-)

          but it wasn't enough for me. Although I wasn't depressed (I didn't experience sadness) I was incredibly anxious and way too angry (mostly at Republicans and Wall Street) and my doctor felt it was probably chemical.

          Don't know how well it works for others, but Effexor XR in a low dose changed my life (at age 56.) The thought of having to take a medicine for life bugs the hell out of me, and I've become vegan to see if that will let me get off the medicine, but it's nice to not be so damned anxious all the time. I still get angry at politics and stupidity, but it doesn't make me feel the same constant impotent rage it used to.

          If it weren't difficult, it wouldn't be an achievement.

          by Wife of Bath on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 09:32:14 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I agree that depressed persons should not just (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            smileycreek

            on walking, unless it really is enough to do the trick.
            I've been on Neurontin for an auto-immune problem for 8 years. It's been very effective for the most part, but even though it helps with anxiety I'd say I'm more depressed since I started taking it. I personally put a lot of emphasis on perseverance, and I decided a long time ago that it was unlikely that I would ever be a non-depressed person, I do my best to ignore it and stay physically active if I'm not sick or injured.
            Everyone is different, and no one should feel guilty about seeking help. The professionals are getting better all the time, and the medicine is also getting better all the time. I've watched a close family member experience the entire history of psychiatry from 1951, including mental hospitals, shock treatments, every drug and therapy that has come down the pike. They're healthy now, at 82, in spite of a lot of physical pain and chronic life threatening ailments.
            One thing they do is put their focus in the needs and concerns of others. It seems to work very well for them and I try to emulate them as best I can.

            You can't make this stuff up.

            by David54 on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 08:39:52 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Biochemistry (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              David54

              Everyone responds differently to different antidepressant medications, so what works for me won't necessarily work for someone else. In the case of bipolar disorder, there is a whole class of antidepressants that you can't take because the drugs will cause manic episodes. I was diagnosed as depressed when I was 28, although it's clear I have been depressed since the age of 9. That was in 1974 when depression was believed to be only an adult disorder. In 1975, it was acknowledge that children could indeed be depressed, and then they put so many restrictions on the diagnosis that maybe 4 children on the planet could be depressed. That's not an exaggeration.

              From the time I was 28 until I was 32, I was prescribed antidepressants that were part of this class of medications that caused manic episodes. Finally, at age 32, a full 23 years after I had a severe brain illness that had set off all of these maladies, I was diagnosed with type 2 (non-psychotic) bipolar disorder.

              This is hardly uncommon for bipolar disorder. Pediatric bipolar wasn't accepted into the medical community until 1996 and treatment for children is still controversial. The average time it takes for an accurate diagnosis of bipolar disorder is ten years or four and half doctors.

              I will say that as a child undiagnosed and unmedicated for depression, I could be angry for a month at a time.

              •  The stigma about medication doesn't help (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Christian Democrat, David54

                I have been on medication for 22 of my 70 years. There were 11 years before that when I understood that my problems were due to chronic depression (low-grade, punctuated by 4 severe episodes). However, influenced by the new age, alternative medicine culture, I tried everything but medication: diet, exercise, psychotherapy, personal growth workshops, yoga, meditation, acupuncture, and probably every other alt med approach that was current at the time. I got healthier and grew psychologically and spiritually, but my depression was basically untouched. Some things worked temporarily, esp. running 5 miles or more, but I developed knee trouble and couldn't keep it up.

                My resistance to medication was based on a fear that it would change my personality and my consciousness such that I would no longer be me and that my attempts at a spiritual path would be hindered. Then I went to a retreat with Ram Dass at Lama Foundation near Taos. Private interviews were available and I took one. I figured he would understand and be able to address my problem, given his earlier life as a psychologist and his later incarnation as a spiritual teacher. He did. After I told him my story he said that I should feel no guilt about taking medication, it was like taking insulin for diabetes, and that he knew several serious meditators who took antidepressants. He also told me that I had done wonderfully well for someone with all the suffering and obstacles I faced. We had been sitting outside and when the interview was over I sat down on a nearby rock and wept. I felt this huge burden had been lifted from me.

                Not long afterwards when I was finished with nursing my toddler son I started taking antidepressants and it has been life-changing. My physician sent me to an endrocrinologist for evaluation of possible subclinical hypothyroidism, because antidepressants don't work properly if this condition exists and is not treated. Turned out I had that too. I found out the impact of this just recently when I fell off the thyroid medication for several days (unfilled Rx) and found I was suddenly very fatigued.

                The only other point of possible interest is that when I moved from sunny NM to Atlanta and later Portland OR, both of which have rainy winters, I found I also had seasonal depression. I use a light box and also double my antidepressants in the fall when I experience a mood crash. Except this year: no mood crash so no increase. The only thing I can attribute it to is my pretty consistent efforts to be gluten-free, particularly wheat-free as I have a known sensitivity there.

                I hope all this is helpful to someone. We are all different but who knows what information might turn out to be useful. That figure in the diary of only 27% of depressed people seeking treatment reflects seriously messed up cultural influences and I try when I can to combat them.

                •  Forgot to say (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Christian Democrat, David54

                  that when I started on medication I found it gave me the emotional and physical energy to actually utilize all the things I had learned through the personal growth processes I had gone through. Depression is truly depressed vitality, a physical as well as emotional state, to which I am genetically disposed by depression and alcoholism on both sides of the family. We don't all have the same resilience to stress and there should be no shame in that.

                  •  I have all the genetic markers (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    David54, liz

                    as well, but I cooked my brain with a 106.2 fever and five weeks in a coma (severe acute encephalitis). My brain threw in the towel, more or less.

                    Stigma is a huge problem. We live in a faux-Machiavellian culture that frowns on any semblance of weakness or deficit. About five or six years ago, the AMA acknowledged that, while depression was a mental illness, it was an illness just like heart diseases, cancer, or diabetes. It was a long time in coming. Problem is, it didn't make the evening news or get plastered on the billboard that used to tell you what the powerball jackpot is up to.

                    The only shame in depression is not getting help. Now that's a shame.

                    •  The religious right are responsible for a lot of (0+ / 0-)

                      this just as they are for all the other problems we can't solve til the gop gets out of the way.
                      They have a resistance to science in regards to the psyche and brain.
                      They think depressed people are out to find an excuse to let the nanny state take care of them. Etc.

                      This is why it's important for progressives to win on the state and local level, where so much policy in this regard is decided.

                      You can't make this stuff up.

                      by David54 on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 01:11:32 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

              •  I second this (0+ / 0-)

                I'm not bipolar but was really having trouble when my mother became seriously ill and then died. I was given Prozac and that did not help at all. I felt like I was on edge and worse. I don't know if it's because I probably have complex PTSD but I do know from that and having a Masters in psychology that a lot needs to be done for people before just handing out meds. Sadly it seems we are lacking in this respect. Our chemical make-up varies so much.

                I hope it's worked out for you. I have known people who are bipolar.  If they made this something worth dealing with I'd bet we would have a lot less people suffering.

    •  If it is seasonal, bright lights can be decisive (5+ / 0-)

      The great thing is that they're a fairly cheap experiment with little or no downside.

    •  True (0+ / 0-)

      It's been demonstrated that cognitive behavioral therapy is as effective at alleviating depression, and exercise is known to help as well. Exercise is free if you're not physically disabled, but both therapy and medication can be costly. We all know how well the health care system works in this country. For the elderly on fixed income, these costs can be prohibitive, which is tragic since the suicide rate for people over 65 is three times the normal rate.

  •  I just wish there was some way... (19+ / 0-)

    ...I and my wife, and her sibs and sibs-in-law could help her father cope with his depression. He turns 96 on the 26th, has some helath problems, and has to live with the fact that his wife of 64 years (their wedding anniversary is today) is in a special care unit in total dementia.

    It depresses us.

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 09:03:25 PM PST

    •  Ketamine studies are worth watching (0+ / 0-)

      Ketamine gets a rapid strong response unlike SSRIs which are slow and are only modestly more effective than a placebo.

      look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

      by FishOutofWater on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 09:20:41 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Um, I don't think ketamine... (0+ / 0-)

        ...is an option. He's turning 96 week after next, and has a number of chronic and recent health problems. Ketamine seems to have too many bad side effects, and I doubt his primary care physician would be willing to experiment on him.

        Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

        by JeffW on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 09:42:35 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  The date rape drug (0+ / 0-)

        Ketamine is a favorite for rapists especially when slipped into a mickey. You won't see it on the pharmacy shelves any time soon. But there is research being done to discover what parts of the chemical compound affect depression to see if an alternative can be made synthetically without the dreadful side effects.

        This might make you laugh but scopolamine given intravenously, the same medication used on patches you put behind your ear to prevent motion sickness, among other uses, have shown similarly rapid and long lasting results for depression and the depression associated with bipolar disorder. Phase II clinical trials are already underway.

    •  I know how you feel. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JeffW, greenbird, jan4insight

      You can't make this stuff up.

      by David54 on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 09:25:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Sorry to hear this (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JeffW, swampyankee

      That is a really tough situation to be in. If there is some way to just to be there for him, as bad as it may make you feel, I think that can do way more than we realize.

      All I can think of is it is a reminder to make the most of the time we do have.

    •  That's understandable (0+ / 0-)

      It's tough watching family members whose spouses have become incapacitated understandably slip into depression. I expect he has a family doctor. Have you discussed the problem with him/her? Very often a family doctor or internist will be able to recommend and prescribe antidepressants to at least make life more manageable for him.

  •  Fuck depression! I totally have (10+ / 0-)

    melancholia. I've been a melancholic all my life. My earliest memories are of melancholy. Seriously!

    "'club America salutes you' says the girl on the door/we accept all major lies, we love any kind of fraud"--The Cure, "Club America"

    by Wheever on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 09:10:05 PM PST

  •  I struggle with depression. (9+ / 0-)

    On SSI due to it.  Have been having a rough go of it lately.  Talked to my mom.  Just hearing her voice helps me.  In the past, I've tried to gloss over my depression.  My mom has repeatedly asked me to "be honest" with her when I'm down.  I did that this weekend when we spoke and it just seemed to bring her down.  She repeatedly said she didn't know what to say.  I tried to tell her that just listening is all that I need from her.  I know that she is worrying about me now and I wish I hadn't said anything.  :(  Dang it!

    I would be content to never leave my apartment, but it seems everyone else wants something else for me.

    •  Don't feel bad about telling your mother (4+ / 0-)

      If you do, perhaps continuing to talk with her may help. I think just connecting and being together means a lot. It takes time.

    •  I think one of the simplest... (11+ / 0-)

      ...but effective things someone can say to someone they care about that's suffering from drepression is, "I love you" or "I care about you" or some variance thereof. As someone who greatly suffers from depression, I can say that one thing I feel a lot is disconnected. I can quickly and frequently feel like others don't recognize me and my emotional fluctuations because I know they have their own problems, and I'm desperate to not add to their problems with my own. Having them express to me that they care about me regardless of how badly I feel is very important. And that can be difficult considering no one hugs me outside of returning my hug to them, for example; I be flumoxed if anyone hugged me first, but it'd mean more than they could ever, ever know.

    •  oh yeah - tell us what's going on dear... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BlueJessamine

      to sudden backpeddle of OH HELL NO we didn't mean tell us REALLY.

      They don't really want to know.  They want to feel like they are doing something - actual doing something not required.

      And we sail and we sail and we never see land, just the rum in the bottle and a pipe in my hand...

      by Mortifyd on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 09:25:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Anxiety (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Chaddiwicker

      over the condition of relationships, or more often, mistaken anxiety over the condition of relationships is as responsible for isolation as anything else. It's tough to know how to communicate how you feel to others because you feel like you're a broken record after a while.

      "Life sucks. It sucks today, it sucked yesterday, it sucked the day before that, remember the last time we got together, it sucked then too."

      Some people won't be able to handle it and may drift away. You can frequently find out who your true friends are.

  •  I run regularly (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, CherryTheTart

    When that fails, I take an anti-depressant for a few months. It's a good combination.

    •  None of the drugs... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marina, Lying eyes, JeffW, AaronInSanDiego

      ...I've been on in my life have worked. :(

      •  My psychiatrist and I tried (0+ / 0-)

        many different meds, both singly and in combinations, before my current ones, which have worked more effectively and for longer than previous ones. I usually had partial relief in the past, but it was either not enough or the effect wore off eventually. I'm now taking an MAO inhibitor, which many doctors are afraid to use, but it is in a patch form (called Emsam) and doesn't seen to have as much of a problem with certain foods that other MAOIs have. It gives me insomnia, but i treat that with another drug. One drawback is that it is expensive, and it will be several years before the patent expires.

        "Okay, until next time. Keep sending me your questions, and I will make fun of you... I mean, answer them." - Strong Bad

        by AaronInSanDiego on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 07:59:00 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Treatment-resistant depression (0+ / 0-)

        Doctors disagree about what this means. Some say it means their patients don't respond to any of the drug classes while others throw in the towel after a few different attempts. Either way, it feels like a prison sentence. Options after medication range from the extreme to the bizarre.

        If you're not already seeing a psychiatrist consider getting one. They'll be in a far better position to understand your options. If you already have one, get a second opinion.

  •  I hate the whole get over it attitude (21+ / 0-)

    I have relatives who are just telling my grieving mom to get over it... to keep busy and just put aside her grief and depression over losing my father.

    But she lost her house too and had to move close to us so she's mourning her entire life really. The whole get over it already it's been nearly a year burns my butt.

    Grief takes a lot of time to process and should be respected.

  •  Republished to Mental Health Awareness nt (5+ / 0-)

    "Mitt Romney looks like the CEO who fires you, then goes to the Country Club and laughs about it with his friends." ~ Thomas Roberts MSNBC

    by second gen on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 09:30:08 PM PST

  •  Aside from anything else, saying "cheer up"... (15+ / 0-)

    ... or "it's not so bad" or many such things, it's genuinely invalidating of the person's valid emotional state. There are reasons for which someone is depressed - be they underlying chemical imbalances, structural differences in the brain, grief, upbringing, situational stress, trauma, etc. Whilst the objective of them being less depressed is a laudable one, telling someone to cheer up is similar (though not identical, obviously) to telling someone with a broken leg to work it off, just to shrug off the pain or otherwise 'fix' it. Not only is their ability to do so typically limited and even if they do everything they can to make it happen it will still take some time, but it's horribly invalidating of the pain they currently feel and the (reasonably) anticipated pain of attempting recovery. That invalidation can spur a vicious cycle of feeling hurt by others and thus withdrawing from them and/or lowering already low self-worth because they can't just 'snap out of it' as they're being told that they're "supposed" to do.

    It's one of those nasty cases where people can genuinely think that they're helping a situation, where in fact they're more likely to make it worse, and that it'd be so much better to validate the person's pain, sadness, fear and what have you as being reasonable, if undesirable results of what they experience, but to try and be supportive and/or nurturing towards the ways in which they may get better and/or find out if there are any positives/goals/etc. the person is still able to connect with. Oh, and where possible, supporting them with getting professional help of one kind or another, where appropriate.

  •  how can you be depressed (4+ / 0-)

    in a world where whales are being deafened, dolphins mangled, hundreds of animals made extinct annually, both poles melting, and our coldest cities are the temperature of Costa Rica, a harbinger of the next wind and water catastrophe, and even our cantaloupes are deadly.
    Cheer up.  Why not go out for a fun outing at the mall?

  •  I have to rec this. (13+ / 0-)

    I don't know 100% how it injects itself into my life, but I definitely suffer from depression. I don't know if it's a side effect of my anxiety disorders or if it comes upon me from some other means, but I can totally concur that "cheer up" from others is not just ineffective,, but offensive. If I could make myself happy by solely an act of will, I would be so already. Instead, I look upon the world and hope that no one will learn that I suffer from depression or else they'll condemn me for being a failure who can't just "get over it". I would, desperately, if I could. Instead, I feel lucky that I've recovered to the point that I no longer want to kill myself.

  •  What a timely post (8+ / 0-)

    Tis the season to tell people in pain to just cheer up.

    Your statistics are interesting. And I applaud you for the part that people with depression benefit from others being there for them. Our society seems to favor isolating people especially when they are hurting.

  •  The Obligation to be Happy (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AshesAllFallDown

    A friend posted this apropos link to Linda Pastan's poem on facebook today.

    http://www.poetryfoundation.org/...

  •  Congratulations (4+ / 0-)

    While I totally agree that "cheer up" or "just get over it" are thoughtless and callous responses to one with a clinical condition, I will go so far as to say you should consider yourself fortunate in one respect: that you have acknowledged and taken ownership of your condition.

    I've been close to two people who had numerous clear symptoms of depression, and family histories of it, yet neither would accept that they had it, nor seek any treatment of any sort (unless you count self-medicating with a pot of coffee and 4-5 Diet Cokes every day). Neither of these people knew each other, but their attitudes were eerily similar. To paraphrase, their view of their own behavior was, I'm just me, and everyone else just had to learn to live with it.

    Regrettably, they were both so frustrating to deal with, I had to cut them out of my life.

  •  Excellent diary! (8+ / 0-)

    As one who suffers from clinical depression, the last effing thing I need to hear are the words, "Cheer up!"  People who say such stupid things have no idea what this disease is like, and they obviously don't understand that depression isn't a matter of simple will.  

    You're exactly right.  Depressed people appreciate a friend who says, "I'm here for you."  We can do without "friends" who try to cheer us up.

    "Ça c'est une chanson que j'aurais vraiment aimé ne pas avoir écrite." -- Barbara

    by FogCityJohn on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 10:25:55 PM PST

  •  It's a battle worth fighting... (5+ / 0-)

    Nutritional supplements, exercise, good nutrition, positive thoughts, getting out of your comfort zone... they're all tools you can use to fight depression.

    - A fellow sufferer (and long-time fighter)

    •  vitamin D and enough sunlight helps (3+ / 0-)

      also exercise, though when I'm depressed (as now) I find it extremely difficult to get motivated to exercise.

      There are some things that are unforgivable. Your willingness to play political games while people suffer and die is one of them--Onomastic

      by SouthernLiberalinMD on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 11:03:41 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  some. everyone has different requirements (0+ / 0-)

        I take medical D supplements and they aren't even enough to make a dent in my mood, though they may help my body cope better.  My threshold is simply such that what sends my friend into a frenzy of living barely makes a dent in me.

        And we sail and we sail and we never see land, just the rum in the bottle and a pipe in my hand...

        by Mortifyd on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 09:29:42 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Timely post. And this whole - ohhhh the Holiday (6+ / 0-)

    Season! Be Happy! Bullshit. Sometimes, ya just can't "be happy". We just had two folks close to us pass. Our buddy just got the news his elderly dad likely has Leukemia. Just heard from my mom that two of my elderly aunts are not in a good way. Business has been suckey so money is beyond tight. Fuck - that'll make anybody depressed. My old home state just passed a RTW law. Bah Fuckin' Humbug. I look at the holiday season as something to get through. May 2013 be better for all of us.

    if a habitat is flooded, the improvement for target fishes increases by an infinite percentage...because a habitat suitability index that is even a tiny fraction of 1 is still infinitely higher than zero, which is the suitability of dry land to fishes.

    by mrsgoo on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 11:49:51 PM PST

  •  A lot of depression is socities failure (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Amayi, AaronInSanDiego

    We all live such isolated lives now a days, we don't have a chance to interact with others who care about us. We are taught to judge our selves as the corporations judge us, to avoid the things that make us happy and fulfilled if they aren't "productive".

    I used to be depressed, and take drugs for it. Later I realized I was doing life wrong. I was trying to be something I'm not, to fit expectations I don't even care about.

    The real cure for depression is doing the things that make you happy, without caring what others think. If that's drinking and getting laid, or making music, or writing on this blog, so be it.  All the things they tell us matter really don't.

    The real cure for depression is to radically change your life, so your life is centered around the things that make you happy and fulfilled, not the things they say you should care about.

    I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.

    by Futuristic Dreamer on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 11:54:00 PM PST

    •  I don't think there is one "real cure" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mortifyd

      that is practical for everyone. Sometimes, the things that normally make you happy don't. Sometimes nothing does. People can get through it, but there is no one size fits all fix. Even though many people go through it, we are all different. But i say this as someone who is not cured, but in a sort of remission. But where I am  now is much better than being deposed.

      "Okay, until next time. Keep sending me your questions, and I will make fun of you... I mean, answer them." - Strong Bad

      by AaronInSanDiego on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 08:14:33 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Um, no. Glad it works for you - but you aren't me (0+ / 0-)

      or anyone else.  I have chosen my lifestyle of freedom, I have enjoyed it - I'm still depressed.  YOUR depression may have been related to societial expectation, not everyone is the same.

      And we sail and we sail and we never see land, just the rum in the bottle and a pipe in my hand...

      by Mortifyd on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 09:33:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I think there's depression, and also (10+ / 0-)

    depression.

    I was born a pretty sunny, optimistic kid. Life has done its best to give me a lot of organic fertilizer. (wry grin) So for me, depression is a symptom, and it is usually correctable with either physical activity or distraction or a bout of laugh therapy, or, if caused by physical pain, appropriate pain medication/interventions.

    On the other hand, my heartsister started thinking about suicide at the age of four. She has never not been depressed to some degree. For her, optimal functioning depends on having physical and emotional security and medication. And she will still revert to suicidal tendencies all the time.

    That's two different things, and I wish they didn't roll under the same label.  Because it's not wise for me to give a lot of respect and room to my depressed feelings, or they get bigger and I have anxiety attacks.  But this in no way means that my sister's deep melancholic bent should be trivialized or treated as something she can just shrug off with an act of will.

    I can say that since stress worsens both sorts of depression, she and I would be markedly less stressed if we had healthcare.

    When you come to find how essential the comfort of a well-kept home is to the bodily strength and good conditions, to a sound mind and spirit, and useful days, you will reverence the good housekeeper as I do above artist or poet, beauty or genius.

    by Alexandra Lynch on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 12:54:42 AM PST

  •  Not just chemicals (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AaronInSanDiego, Mortifyd

    Cognitive therapy can help in some cases. Also, change in life circumstances can make a difference in some situations, when that's even possible.  

  •  What I try to do and what I wish people (5+ / 0-)

    would do for me.

    If I detect a problem, I say "Hey, I'm coming over". Don't ask, just do.
    Stop at the store and buy some food.
    When you get there, hand them the food, look around and say, "How 'bout I help you clean this shit up"? And then do it.

    Of course most people don't have the time for such things and that's why they come up with all this other well-meaning BS.

    After dealing with this beast for nigh on 60 years, I've decided that depression is caused by an imbalance in my thinking. Trying to be the person that I am not.

    We're fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance.

    by PowWowPollock on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 04:02:18 AM PST

    •  THIS SO MUCH. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BlueJessamine, PowWowPollock

      Don't play do you REALLY need me or not - I hate that so much because it puts me in a position where - I'm fine, don't bother is the answer, soothing your guilt becomes my responsibility. F that.

      Don't be weird.  Be yourself.  If it's a pigsty, say so - then help me clean a bit of it.  If I smell, tell me I should take a freaking shower, I smell.  Tell me to scoop the poop or do it for me if I can't.  I KNOW all those things may be wrong, but I'm not strong enough to do them alone right now.

      And we sail and we sail and we never see land, just the rum in the bottle and a pipe in my hand...

      by Mortifyd on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 09:38:00 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ain't it the truth. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mortifyd

        I've freakin' begged family to come over and help and been turned down. What works if you have the money and you know somebody that needs money is call them up and say "Hey, there's a Benjamin sitting on the kitchen table for anybody who comes over here and helps. It's a shame that's what you have to resort to, especially if you're the type of person that turns out to help whenever you're asked. But there it is.

        We're fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance.

        by PowWowPollock on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 07:17:43 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  And it can be compounded by SAD. (4+ / 0-)

    (seasonal affected disorder) which is not getting enough sunlight during the winter months.

    If you are diagnosed with depression, get your thyroid checked.  They can be related.  If you have a bad thyroid you will most likely have depression, but not the other way though.

    Most importantly - get help and you ARE NOT ALONE in this.

    •  Rochester, NY (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nchristine

      We are purported to be the 2nd cloudiest city in the country. In the months of December and January here, of the available daylight hours, the sun shines 11% of the time. 95% of the population is vitamin D deficient. Seasonal affective disorder isn't a problem here, it's a career.

      •  Yeah, we've had years where we've gone (0+ / 0-)

        6 weeks without seeing the sun in the winter time.  I know I'm vitamin d deficient (last test was 24, where 33 was considered low and that was after having the mega dose version for a week - it was 18 the test before that).  Lots of people are vitamin d deficient and don't know it - just like hypothyroidism.  It can get so cold here that we just don't go out, if we can help it.  So far we've only gotten down to 6F.  We'll see what January holds - doubt we'll get to -25, didn't last year.

        •  We lived in Iowa City (0+ / 0-)

          my wife and I while we attended college at The University of Iowa. It his -29 there one morning. On the other hand, we lived in Mesa, Arizona for a while and temperature once hit 121. Lots of sun there. How I got back here, I still scratch my head.

          I used to take Lithium (which is a type of salt) for bipolar disorder. There's a hiccup called Lithium Induced Hypothyroidism associated with it. Knocked it back up with meds.

          •  I live a little north of IC and I've also lived in (0+ / 0-)

            the Mesa, many, many years ago.  I flew in for an interview the day after the Phoenix airport closed because of 122 temps and the controlers (and pilots) didn't know what would happen with the tires and other stuff.  I'm now back north of IC, used to work for UIHC.  I went to ISU.

  •  I've dealt with clinical depression. (2+ / 0-)

    The first episode was around the time I graduated from college.  I had no reason to be depressed.  Found a good job and I was off to a really promising start, but I was miserable on the inside.  Someone mentioned zoloft and I gave it a shot: instant relief.  After about a year, I was able to come off of it and was depression free for several years.

    The second episode had a definite cause: my crumbling marriage.  We drifted apart and no matter how hard I tried to reach out, it only pushed her away.  I began drinking, heavily.  Went back on the zoloft and that worked for a while, but then I learned the hard way about SSRI dicontinuation syndrome.  Essentially, the medicine just stops working.  Went on effexor and that helped (though coming off of that was a horrible experience).  Eventually the wife and I split up.  Worst time of my life.

    That was three years ago and now I am off the meds.  In fact, I just got remarried.  Life has never been better.  It can and does get better, but it can be a really tough road.  For me, it meant doing a lot of introspection and being really honest with myself.

    "Give to every other human being every right that you claim for yourself." - Robert G. Ingersoll

    by Apost8 on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 07:00:32 AM PST

    •  Also, thereapy helped me quite a bit. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AaronInSanDiego

      I saw a therapist while my marriage disintegrated and it really helped.  Sometimes you need a disengaged third party to give you perspective that your friends and family cannot objectively provide.  

      It helped me to stop blaming myself for everything wrong in the marriage.  It even allowed me to be angry, which I am not good at doing.

      "Give to every other human being every right that you claim for yourself." - Robert G. Ingersoll

      by Apost8 on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 07:27:00 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Inefficacy (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Apost8

      It sucks when you're taking an antidepressant that works for you and 5-10 years later, it stops working and you have to track down another one that works. The body becomes accustomed to the drug and it becomes inefficacious over time.

      Shortly after I was diagnosed with depression, I read up on it and discovered that it was recurring. Not happy.

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