Spotting depression in those you love
11/22/2016 12:27 PM
Winter weather and holidays can heighten feelings of depression in your family and neighbors. We all should be mindful of signs of depression that affect people in our lives.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 7 percent of the population is clinically depressed and 2 to 3 times that number suffer from “situational” depression. Situational depression is typically brought on by an external action occurring in our lives such as job loss, death in the family or a breakup that usually doesn’t last very long.
According to Murray Kast, a licensed professional counselor at the CTMC Grief Center, “A lot of our situational depression is culturally based. We watch TV and see beautiful people walking down the beach and we compare our struggles with what we perceive on TV.”
Kast cautions that social media can trigger some depressive episodes. “When we look at other people’s Facebook and social media posts, we tend to compare their happiest moments that they post with some of the situations we find ourselves in. Their life looks a lot better than ours.”
Clinical depression, on the other hand, is marked by a significant feeling of hopelessness that isn’t impacted by a particular situation. Those affected by clinical depression typically find no joy in activities or people that they had previously enjoyed.
To be considered clinically depressed, Kast says a patient must demonstrate at least five of the symptoms of depression as identified by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (see blue box).
If we find ourselves or a loved one in a depressive state, what should we do? Medication typically is the first go-to solution; however, there are other options to consider. Kast suggests talk therapy or counseling.
“Virtually every study on depression shows that while medication is helpful, talk therapy is even more helpful to work through issues.” Diet and exercise also can help alter brain chemistry and produce more mood-stabilizing neuro-transmitters including serotonin or norepinephrine.
If the depression leads to talk of suicide, seek help immediately for those in need from a physician or counselor. Hotlines that can provide help: 1-800-Suicide or 1-800-273-TALK.
SIGNS OF DEPRESSION
• Lost Interest or Pleasure
• Weight Changes
• Sleep Disturbances
• Agitation - physical or speech
• Fatigue - always tired, no energy
• Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
• Can’t concentrate/make decisions
• Thoughts of death or suicide
WHO TENDS TO BE DEPRESSED?
• Age 45-65
• Without health insurance
• Less than high school education