Disclaimer: This topic is about my personal views on depression and how I handle life’s issues. I am not a psychologist or psychiatrist. Any advice stated herein is akin to a friend seeking a shoulder to lean on in times of trouble.
Yesterday’s news prompted me to write about this topic. First was Catherine Zeta Jones’s self-admission to an unnamed mental facility to treat her bipolar II disorder (manic-depressive) as a result of depression over her hubby’s cancer (Michael Douglas is now tumor -free after intensive therapy for late stage throat cancer). Then the news about a New York mom who drove her van to Hudson river killing herself and three of her children onboard. The fourth child managed to open the van’s window and was rescued (reports said she’s battling marital woes). The first is a story of hope, the latter a tragedy. But there is a tie that binds them- Depression.
Depression is more than a feeling of sadness or loneliness. While getting upset or melancholic over a loss of someone or certain life events is a normal reaction to stressor, depression is categorically defined as a feeling of intense helplessness, worthlessness and hopelessness, lasts for several days or weeks, and affects your ability to perform normal activities. According to DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-Fourth Edition), depression is having five out of these nine symptoms:
depressed most of the day
- loss of energy/ fatigue most of the day
- unable to concentrate
- feeling worthless most of the day
- abnormal sleeping pattern (insomnia: unable to sleep/ hypersomnia: over-sleeping)
- recurring thoughts of suicide or death (” I don’t want to wake up/ I want to die”)
- loss of interest in performing activities almost everyday
- significant weight loss or gain
- being restless or being slowed down
Now the startling revelation- Antidepressants are the most prescribed medicine in the US, with about 27 million people taking them on a regular basis (Source: Today’s Healthcare News, 04/2010). Women are twice as likely to use them than men. Reality bites hard, sadly.
We live in a generation beset with unending tribulations: recession, unemployment, foreclosure, nature’s wrath, etc. Without a strong support system, anybody can snap out and lose the sanity. Life is not fair because people don’t play fair. So how do we manage personal issues then?
1. Speak. Reach out. Ventilate. You can only keep so much to yourself. You are not perfect, life is not perfect either. You are as vulnerable as everyone else. Unmask yourself. Break the sturdy facade and reach out to your loved ones and closest friends. No man is an island and you cannot solve problems alone. Oftentimes, we are blinded by our own emotions and judgment. Ventilating your feelings to people you trust is like pouring an overflowing jar of negative emotions to glasses of positive reinforcement.
2. Seek professional help if you must. Sometimes going out of your circle is more beneficial because there are no personal biases involved. You are able to say things or cite instances without being ashamed. Your issues are managed by licensed professionals who will monitor and evaluate your progress. Joining support groups that tackle depression and anxiety management is another way to handle issues in a positive manner. You will be relieved to know that you are not alone in your problem. Learning from others will help you reevaluate yourself and your life.
3. Pray your heart out. Regardless of your religious inclination, prayer is about faith. Faith is believing that there is someone up there more powerful than any man you can imagine. Someone who hears even the slightest trouble of your heart. The answer to your problem is not always immediate but hopes continue to shine bright. Although born and raised as a Catholic, to me the most meaningful prayer is something that is not from the manuscript but from the heart. I pray to God like I talk to a friend- uncensored and sincere.
4. Defy negativity. Entertain positive thoughts and emotions. Feeling worthless today? What about looking at some old pictures of you getting recognized for your effort (like school awards, job promotion). No interest to go out? Check your Facebook and see your tagged photos with friends having fun. Feeling fatigued all day? Why not exercise? Exercise is a mood-lifting activity. Dance like the world is your stage. No appetite? Eat mood-enhancing food like oatmeal, bananas, brown rice, whole grains but skip that sugar please! Though cakes and ice cream are your go-to foods for moments of depression, they are quick to satisfy and crash your energy level.
5. List down activities that you used to enjoy, and try to do one if not all. Prior to your depressive state, what are the things you love to do? Watch a movie, a drive to the beach, jewelry-making, book scrapping, hiking, reading a book, playing with makeup, singing. List as many as you can and help yourself to do one at the most. The key is to keep your mind busy rather than wallow in self-pity.
Life is never easy. We cannot control situations but we can manage our reactions. Our failure today is our wisdom tomorrow. So keep the faith my friend.
|“Today is the day I will take care of myself.” Love life.|