Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Depression, it's not what you think.

Usually when we want to understand a serious issue we investigate it, we search the internet, ask friends or professionals with experience on the issue,  we seek out answers.  I have found the topic of mental health issues to be the exact opposite.  We seem to use the words "crazy" or "depressed" in a very loose and at times offensive manner.  It's hard to blame the people that aren't familiar with depression or other mental health issues Our culture has taught us to dismiss these people and issues as being victims or weak, even just trying to get attention. I think the worst thing is being told "oh you can control your feelings, its up to you to have a good day"  You need to realize when a depressed person hears these words it can hurtful and sink them into an even deeper hole. I could never imagine someone WANTING to be depressed or suffer from anxiety. It's hard not to take things personally when things are being said about your personality.

Its also difficult for a depressed person to express the way it feels to be in a deep depression in a way that a non depressed person can understand.  It's neither sides fault, its just having a desire to understand the state of mind and feelings of a friend that may be going through a rough time.   One of my least favorite things is when someone confuses having a bad day with being depressed.  It trivializes what a truly depressed person is dealing with.

I have a friend that once told me that some friends didn't want to hang out with me because they were afraid I would be all "depressy and stuff"   That was one of the most hurtful things I had heard about my ILLNESS, it became obvious to me at that point that the desire to understand depression was simply not there.

As you'll read below about 1 in 4 people suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder, take a look around, it could it be you, your best friend, your partner, your parent.   Dont be so quick to judge, but do ask questions.  Approach them in a caring, concerned and loving manner.

Below are some facts and studies I have found in my research.

Mental illness refers to a wide range of mental health conditions — disorders that affect your mood, thinking and behavior. Examples of mental illness include depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders and addictive behaviors.

Many people have mental health concerns from time to time. But a mental health concern becomes a mental illness when ongoing signs and symptoms cause frequent stress and affect your ability to function. A mental illness can make you miserable and can cause problems in your daily life, such as at work or in relationships. In most cases, mental illness symptoms can be managed with a combination of medications and counseling (psychotherapy).

Some warning signs that you maybe be depressed are universally agreed upon, they are depressed mood, decreased interest in or pleasure from activities, decreased concentration, hopelessness, worrying/ brooding, decreased self esteem, and irritability. 
"About one in four adults suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given,year this figure translates to 57.7 million people.  In fact, depression affects as many as one in every 33 children and one in eight adolescents, according to the Federal Center for Mental Health Services."


Mental illnesses, in general, are thought to be caused by a variety of genetic and environmental factors:
Inherited traits. Mental illness is more common in people whose biological (blood) relatives also have a mental illness. Certain genes may increase your risk of developing a mental illness, and your life situation may trigger the actual mental illness.
Environmental exposures before birth. Exposure to viruses, toxins, alcohol or drugs while in the womb can sometimes be linked to mental illness.
Negative life experiences. Situations in your life, such as the loss of a loved one, financial problems and high stress, can play a role in triggering mental illness. So can an upbringing that leads to poor self-esteem or a history of sexual or physical abuse. Life experiences can lead to unhealthy patterns of thinking linked to mental illness, such as pessimism or distorted ways of thinking.
Brain chemistry. Biochemical changes in the brain are thought to affect mood and other aspects of mental health. Naturally occurring brain chemicals called neurotransmitters play a role in some mental illnesses. In some cases, hormonal imbalances affect mental health. It's thought that inherited traits, life experiences and biological factors can all affect brain chemistry linked to mental illnesses. 

"There are still attitudes within most societies that view symptoms of psychopathology as threatening and uncomfortable, and these attitudes frequently foster stigma and discrimination towards people with mental health problems. Such reactions are common when people are brave enough to admit they have a mental health problem, and they can often lead on to various forms of exclusion or discrimination – either within social circles or within the workplace."

The social stigma associated with mental health problems almost certainly has multiple causes. Throughout history people with mental health problems have been treated differently, excluded and even brutalized. This treatment may come from the misguided views that people with mental health problems may be more violent or unpredictable than people without such problems, or somehow just “different”, but none of these beliefs has any basis in fact. This itself implies that people with mental health problems are in some way ‘different’ from ‘normally’ functioning individuals. . That label may well be associated with undesirable attributes (e.g. ‘mad’ people cannot function properly in society, or can sometimes be violent), and this again will perpetuate the view that people with mental health problems are different and should be treated with caution.

I could go on and on about this topic, but it gets overwhelming for both the reader and myself.
I just want people to understand that a mental disorder, or mental disease is not something someone chooses to put themselves through.   Its tough, its debilitating, its life threatening.

I am in a really good place right now, and that's why I feel like I can share all of this with you.
I hope you have found it to be educational and enlightening.  Im sure Ill have more to say about this at a later time.


My research has come from the following websites.

The Mayo Clinic
National Institute for Mental Health (A government agency)
Physcology Today
Webb MD

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