Freedom and depression
By Rev. Paul N. Papas II
Thu Jul 03, 2008, 10:45 AM EDT
The question about freedom rolls around again as we celebrate our nations’ Independence Day on the fourth of July.
Normally we take for granted that we can get ourselves up, out of bed, get dressed and off to school or work.
There are many people who through not fault of their own are not able to get out of bed.
Right away people who have been hospitalized because of a heart attack, stroke, or car accident come to mind. They need to be bathed everyday and have all their needs cared for by nurses, nurses’ aids, orderlies, and volunteers. Doctors routinely visit to check on their patients.
One morning you have this overwhelming feeling that you just want to hide under the sheets. You feel as though you can keep the world shut out by staying under the sheets. You know the world around you is continuing at its normal fast pace. Your world has stopped. You have no interest in anything especially eating. I am not talking about sleeping in on a Saturday.
Let’s say this overwhelming feeling goes on for days, this may be a problem for a professional to evaluate. If could be depression.
Depression has no single cause; often, it results from a combination of things. You may have no idea why depression has struck you or that there is help.
Whatever its cause, depression is not just a state of mind. It is related to physical changes in the brain, and connected to an imbalance of a type of chemical that carries signals in your brain and nerves. These chemicals are called neurotransmitters.
Some of the more common factors involved in depression are:
· Family history. Genetics play an important part in depression. It can run in families for generations.
· Trauma and stress. Things like financial problems, the breakup of a relationship, or the death of a loved one can bring on depression. You can become depressed after changes in your life, like starting a new job, graduating from school, or getting married. Trauma from an abusive situation where one feels trapped and there no way out could cause an enormous amount of stress, anxiety, and/or depression.
· Pessimistic personality. People who have low self-esteem and a negative outlook are at higher risk of becoming depressed. These traits may actually be caused by low-level depression (called dysthymia). These people see a glass half empty.
· Physical conditions. Serious medical conditions like heart disease, cancer, and HIV can contribute to depression, partly because of the physical weakness and stress they bring on. Depression can make medical conditions worse, since it weakens the immune system and can make pain harder to bear. In some cases, depression can be caused by medications used to treat medical conditions.
· Other psychological disorders. Anxiety disorders, eating disorders, schizophrenia, and substance abuse often appear along with depression.
Depression is absolutely treatable, no matter what the cause. Finding the underlying cause or causes can be a matter of trial and error, a process of elimination. Once the cause is found then a treatment plan is made. This plan could include medication. Medications don’t react the same way for all people. Don’t be discouraged if it takes time to find the right medication or dosage. There could be a set of identical twins with the same issues that receive the same amount of medication that could react differently.
It is important to know and listen to your body.
It is also important to know what you put into your body and how those things react with each other. This includes food and medicines. You have probably heard of the phrase garbage in, garbage out, it also applies to your body.
Computers don’t work well with broken, corrupt or competing files, neither does your body.
You have a right to know what you are putting into your body and what is does, ask if you don’t know.
There are support groups for people who suffer from depression or other medical conditions. Talking helps, somehow problems or mountains seem smaller when they are heard by a listening ear.
You could be a listening ear for someone by listening non-judgmentally twice as much as you speak.
Telling someone who suffers from depression to snap out of it is useless. They did not ask to be depressed and would prefer not to be depressed. Yelling at them because they are depressed will only push them away.
If you remember you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar and apply it every day your stress level will lower, and so will those around you and more things will be accomplished. You will have a healing affect.
(Rev Paul N. Papas II is a Pastoral Counselor with Narrow Path Ministries (located in MA and AZ) and current President of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Greater Framingham. NAMI Greater Framingham has support groups for family and friends in Framingham and Uxbridge, a new support group for consumers in Marlboro, and various Education Meetings on the first Thursday evenings of the months from September through May www.narrowpathministries.org and www.namigreaterframingham.org.)