Posted by: rejuvenatembwc | December 4, 2009

Understanding Depression

By:  Dr. Scott Symes

Many people refer to depression as a “beast,” or “the pit.” How do you know when you are depressed? According to the National Institute of Mental Health, depression and other mood disorders affect some 20.9 million American adults per year. Depression is also the leading cause of disability for Americans aged 15-44 years old. Depressive symptoms include persistent sad, anxious or “empty” feelings. Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism, feelings of guilt, worthlessness and/or helplessness. Irritability, restlessness, loss of interest in activities once pleasurable, fatigue and decreased energy. Difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions. Insomnia, early–morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping. Overeating, or appetite loss. Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts, persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment. As you can see symptoms include problems with both the mind and the body.

Have you ever wondered how some people seem to be able to go through the worst life experiences and still have a positive outlook? Others have tremendous physical limitations or losses and yet still manage to strive higher and achieve more than those without these limitations. These individuals always amaze me. Life gives them every reason to be depressed, yet they are not. Why? How do they avoid depression or not give into their problems?

Conversely there are those who tend to see their lives as one big problem, or that nothing ever goes right for them. They tell themselves that they are worthless, hopeless, undesirable, and can’t do anything right. It is obvious that these individuals are more prone to feeling depressed. The messages we give ourselves in the form of thoughts and images influence how we feel, and the combination of our thoughts and emotions tend to influence our behavior.

For instance, let’s say a 45-year-old man is unhappy with his job, and this is creating problems in his relationship. After several years of failing to do anything about his job or relationship, his wife leaves him. He begins giving himself the messages that he is pathetic and that he will never find love again. He tells himself that no one would want to be with him. The combination of these thoughts along with the fact that his wife is gone and he does not like his job will inevitably cause him to be depressed. His behavior may deteriorate as well. He may stay in bed most days, stop showing up for work, begin drinking, or attempt suicide.

You might say, well what can be done about all of this? Plenty. People who are depressed have to understand the thoughts and beliefs that have caused their lives to get out of their control. Telling yourself that you are pathetic, hopeless, a loser, or that you are stupid is in no way going to help your situation or emotions, but only make them worse. Getting past depression is not as easy as thinking positively or saying positive things about your self. Moving past depression is about perceiving life differently, believing differently, and behaving differently. A woman who is being physically abused by her husband may tell herself or believe, “He doesn’t mean to do it. I should have kept my mouth shut. It’s my fault.” When she tells herself this it is highly unlikely that she is going to leave the relationship. However, when she begins to change her mind new possibilities begin to unfold. When she believes differently and instead gives herself the message, “I don’t deserve this. Love is not pain. I refuse to allow him to treat me this way any more” all kinds of new things can occur, and she opens her self to the possibility of not being depressed.

If you are aware or have become aware that you or someone you love is depressed, contact your local professional for help. Depression can be conquered. Your thoughts and beliefs are the key. If you perceive your self, your world, and your future in dark, negative ways, you will most likely be depressed. If you decide that you are no longer going to do this and make healthy changes in your thoughts and beliefs you may find that the depression Beast is nothing more than an imagined monster. And we all know there are no such things as monsters.

Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.

– Hellen Keller

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