In the field of psychiatry, many people ask if depression isn’t normal? Depression can mean many things to many different people. “Normal” in this case means “what average people go through.” There are different examples of what constitutes depression.
One kind of depression that many people sometimes go through is the depression of loss. Nowadays, this might mean loss of a job. There can be a whole host of symptoms that one might experience if their livelihood is threatened.
For some people it may be the loss of a love object — the death of a spouse or a friend. And as trivial as it might sound, even the loss of inanimate objects such as a favorite car can trigger grief. A person may feel gloomy, sad, worried, frightened, even hopeless.
The stress of a job change is compounded in difficult economic times because the loss is not easily corrected by finding a new job. Very often people may feel this devastation for a time but find ways of coping with the problem. Other times the loss triggers a mood that one doesn’t readily overcome.
On the other hand sometimes there is no trigger and depression comes out of the blue. A first episode can occur at almost any stage of life. Whether triggered or spontaneous, a person cannot always talk himself or herself out of a depression. Even the encouragement of family and friends is not enough to bring back the joy in life. In severe depression the inability to enjoy any facet of life is called anhedonia, or as one patient said “It’s the opposite of hedonism.”
Very biologically caused depressions often have physical symptoms: 1) A loss of appetite or its opposite, overeating; 2) waking up too early or sleeping all the time; 3) a loss of interest in usual activities or agitation, just not being able to sit still. A particular feature of some biologic mood disorders is feeling worst upon waking, gradually getting better as the day goes on. The next morning one finds herself or himself back in the pit again.
When hit by one form of depression or another, one decides whether to get professional help based on many considerations. If it’s a first time event, the tendency is to try to ride it out, hoping that it will go away. Some say, “It’s my fault that I’m depressed. I just have to think right and I’ll get better.”
Or some people just pull inwards and don’t have the energy to move, much less go to a psychiatrist.
Talking therapy and often medications can pull one out of a depression faster and in the case of recurring depressions keep them from coming back. If there is weight loss, inability to sustain oneself and/or suicidal ideation, it is all the more important to seek help. It’s better to get help sooner than later when there is any question of a person’s being safe.
There are some people who never experience a loss deeply or who always bounce back without difficulty. Some people are content with their lives and themselves. For the 25 percent of the population who experience at least one episode of major depression (clinically significant depression) it is important to know that help is at hand that can make a dramatic difference in the course of the illness.
Dr. William Hankin, is Board Certified in General Psychiatry and is a Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. For more information about this or other issues, contact Dr. Hankin at his Atlantic County office in Linwood 609-653-1400 or his Cape May County office in Court House at 609-465-4424, or visit www. WHHMD.com for information about the practise.