Friday, April 3, 2015

Mental Disorder Series - Depression

We're on day four of five guys! Bear with me! Learn some stuff and help out your friends! Obviously today's subject is probably the most common out of all the subjects you've seen and will see on this blog. (Also, I feel pretty awesome for blogging five days in a row with such huge posts! Because, you know, consistency and writing.)

Let's talk about depression!

What is Depression?

In this post we're going to mostly talk about depression in general, rather than lighting on the different kinds such as bipolar disorder, postpartum depression, or SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder.)

Depression is, at the most basic level, a constant feeling of sadness that doesn't just last a couple of days. It can be a series of periodic episodes or it can be a constant feeling. Sometimes it is dull, like a small, grey cloud in the back of one's mind. Other times it is a severe storm which can cause a lot of very unfortunate decisions to be made.

Depression hampers a person's ability to function 'normally' and can lead to problems with work, school, romantic/platonic relationships, or even just general daily existence.

What it does is it puts up a wall in front of positive thought patterns and reroutes ideas to negative thought patterns. We don't purposefully think terrible things, it just comes to us.

Depression is often tied to self-esteem and self-worth, but another huge aspect is quality of life. With self-esteem and self-worth, sadness is rooted in how we feel about ourselves whether it be from our own ideas, societies ideas, or family and peer's ideas. With quality of life, sadness is rooted in how we live our lives. People with low income, people living in abusive situations, people in dead end jobs, they all could easily get depression from quality of life.

Of course, there are always more places it could come from, but those are the three ones often featured.

There are also biological aspects of depression. In fact, according to NIMH, the brains of people with depression and the people without have distinct differences in regards to how they look.

Some signs/symptoms of depression are:

  • Suicidal thoughts (These are NOT necessary to be diagnosed with depression)
  • Loss of interest in activities or just things in general
  • Change in appetite and/or sleep patterns
  • Fatigue/Decreased Energy
  • Difficulty with concentration and memory
  • Persistent sad or empty feelings and thoughts
  • Irritability and restlessness

How does Depression get treated?

Two main ways! Medication and psychotherapy!

Medication tends to be SSRI antidepressants but this varies from individual to individual. In fact, there is almost no way to tell exactly which one will work for you without trial and error. Doctors tend to first try you on the least risky SSRI with a long half-life and then they move on up in risk and complexity until you find something that works. Family history or recommendation may speed up the process as genetics have a correlation, though not exact match, on which medication may work for you.

As for psychotherapy, a lot of people go in for some kind of "talk therapy." The two most common types of therapy for depression are cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy (IPT.) CBT focuses on thought patterns whereas IPT is more about working with your relationships with others.

Then, don't forget, as with most disorders there is one other way to handle it. Life style changes! Most doctors say you should exercise, get more sunlight, and make sure to sleep at least 8 hours... especially when you have depression! Yes, all that stuff seriously effects your brain chemistry. And of course then there are the other lifestyle changes like being organized and accomplishing goals as well as just plain getting out more.

What you shouldn't say to someone with Depression.

  1. "Just be happy!" - Oh yeah, as if it were really that simple. We cannot change our moods on a whim. I've tried, I really have. I've faked a smile and looked at cute pictures (and videos!) of cats for about an hour before giving up and taking a nap. I've put on comedies. I've tried to think happy thoughts. When you're depressed sometimes you need fuzzy pajamas and tea, not forced smiles and positivity lessons.
  2. "You'll get over it!" - This is a chronic disorder, not an event related sadness. There is nothing to get over. 
  3. Or "Get over it" - Again, there's nothing to get over. Plus, rude. If we could stop being depressed, we really would. Nobody WANTS to be depressed.
  4. Or even "Get over yourself!" - For some reason there's this idea that people who are depressed are really self-centered egoists. I'm not even talking the "killing yourself is selfish" way. (Which, by the way, is another thing you shouldn't say.) Depressed people do have an enhanced level of introspection, especially during episodes, but that doesn't make them selfish. 
  5. "I feel sad sometimes, too." - As stated in this and many other posts, this is not the way to empathize. Sadness is a common and completely okay feeling. Depression is a recurring and painful and extreme level of sadness that changes lives and worlds.
  6. "Stop being lazy." - Depression causes fatigue and apathy, not laziness. Laziness is a term used by people who just think that people simply choose not to do things for no other reason than they don't feel like it. People who are depressed have multiple reasons not to do things.
  7. "You're just seeking attention." - WRONG. If someone is pointing out their depression to you, they're not seeking attention. They're seeking help. And if they are using depression as a means for attention? Then, yet again, they need help. Help them, don't chastise them.

How you can totally help out the clinically Depressed!

It's actually really easy to give depressed people a hand! It's so easy, I can use simple bullet points to describe it! Without even an explanation!

  • Encourage them to seek help for their depression.
  • Give them a nonjudgmental listening ear.
  • Invite them to hang out away from home with you.
  • Go on walks with them.
  • Give them tea, stuffed animals, chocolate, or other simple comfort items.
  • Let them know you're there for them.
  • Let them know everything will be okay.
  • Check up on them to make sure they're taking care of themselves.
  • REMIND them to take care of themselves, like eating.
  • Send them pictures of cats or other adorable things.
  • Send them uplifting videos, quotes, pictures, or stories.
  • Communicate with them.
  • Tell them that they're appreciated.
  • Support them.
  • Help them come up with solutions when they're stuck on a problem.
  • Tell them how great they are.
  • Encourage their talents and passions.
  • Bring them to hang out with pets.
  • Encourage them to learn new things.
  • Help them meet new people.
  • Let them have their moments to decompress and let our their sadness.
  • Make sure they can list at least five positive things about themselves.
  • AND MORE! (Basically, be a good friend.)

My Personal Struggle with Depression.

So I'm already tired as I write this so it won't be as long as the post for anxiety. It might even be about as short as the bit for Focus Disorders! So probably about the length of the one on ODD. Let's find out!

I'm having trouble starting this out. Partially because I'm tired, but also because my depression has sort of just been with me for a majority of my life. Like I can't remember anything that started my depression or when it appeared or anything. For me, it's just kind of been there.

There were times, of course, where I'd have depression rages and I'd text my friends looking for support. There were times where I would cry randomly. There were times I would say screw it all and just go into my bed and sleep all day. It made homework difficult because I could never focus on the work. It made work difficult because the ever present thoughts plagued me. I would lay in bed sometimes simply because I hadn't the motivation to get out of it. I had no interest.

Obviously, my depression is a chronic thing. It goes through ups and downs but it's always there. Sometimes I think I'm good until I have these nagging or intrusive thoughts. I always have this cloud in my brain filled with negative things. It waits for... I don't know what it waits for before it strikes, actually. It's like a complex algorithm that one cannot crack without getting inside my head and visually seeing the variables.

My depression works in conjunction with my anxiety and focus disorder. It's like a weird cycle of emotions and feelings that I don't understand.

See tomorrow for my next mental disorder spotlight!

Oh, and for those of you interested in helping out with the car situation, here is the paypal button and a fancy progress bar! :) Also, here's a quick update on the situation! The car is currently out of commission until further notice. The coolant was leaking and there's some other problems, too. It'll be drivable for work-related purposes as soon as a couple things are done. So it's not a problem there. Sadly, however, it's showing signs that it's getting to be about that time.

New Car Downpayment

Want to donate some Shinies?
Who is this rad giver?
Note: I heard there was trouble with this donation box thingy, so much as I'm going to regret putting my email address out on the net, you can send me paypal monies using the email address bbnewgo @ yahoo . com

In other news, I learned the game "We didn't playtest this at all." It's basically a card-based micro-game that briefly (very briefly) reminded me of munchkins. On each card is an action, and you do that action. For example, there's a duel card where you play rock, paper, scissors, and if anyone chose rock, they lost. I now need to add this to my list of games to get, along with Munchkin and Cards Against Humanity.

As always, Charmed