Dave underwent two rounds of chemotherapy before his doctor came to him and told him to get his affairs in order because he had only three months to live. For anyone that news would put you into a depression.
After a couple months he wound up at the Cleveland Clinic, where he was told he did not have cancer, but simply pre-cancer lumps and with proper care would get better. Ten years later, Dave still has not gotten his head wrapped around the fact he is not going to die tomorrow. He has placed himself into a terminal depression, and has checked out on life, avoiding his family and his friends. He had sold off all his properties and businesses when he put his affairs in order, and had given away all his money. Now, he doesn’t feel he can do any job, and despite an extremely high IQ and all his degrees, feels inadequate. It didn’t help that as an offshoot of his chemotherapy he developed a severe case of psoriasis, which has added to his general feeling of discomfort.
Depression involves neurotransmitters in the brain that sends messages between nerve cells. Some of the neurotransmitters regulate mood, and if they not working correctly, or are out of balance, the person becomes depressed, anxious, stressed and feel as if they are of no value.
Stress is one factor that contributes to depression. Often there is nothing specific that triggers it. Depression can run in families due to an imbalance. Teens, especially, go through so many ups and downs because their bodies and their brain chemistry are often in conflict. You add self-image and the desire to belong and be noticed and it often presents inner turmoil. It doesn’t mean a person is “crazy.” The suffering and angst that goes along with depression is real, and a recognized medical problem. Just as things can go wrong in all other organs of the body, things can go wrong in the most important organ of all: the brain.
People can be sad, but not depressed. Everyone has ups and downs, and can feel hurt, disappointed, and grief. When a person you love has passed on, or you lose your job, you are going to be sad, it is natural. This state is usually brief (even grief can be felt but the person is able to move on).
Depression goes beyond sadness and puts a person in an almost catatonic state, where at times they can’t get out of bed or do simple tasks. Those around them may get angry and yell at them, or tell them they are lazy, but that is not the case. The depressed person has a feeling of hopelessness and despair, and this can go on for weeks, months and, like in Dave’s case, years. It affects their outlook and behavior, their physical health will change — loss or gaining of weight, they will have problems sleeping, headaches and stomach problems. Depressed people are negative and self-critical, and can feel worthless and unlovable, avoiding social contact and activities that they once enjoyed.
If you are concerned about someone you know, stay with him or her until they get some help. There are hotlines and counselors available to anyone who needs help and doesn’t feel they can confide in anyone. Trying to cheer them up won’t help, so find someone who can.
The good news is that depression is treatable. Even in severe cases like Dave’s anti-depressants can help for them to function. There is also talk therapy, or a combination of medication and meditation. Mood-boosting activities like exercise, yoga, dance and something that occupies the mind can be of benefit.
This is Ron White, two-time USA Memory Champion , memory training expert, and memory keynote speaker. Depression is a disease that is common, and treatable. If you know someone who has emotional problems, make sure you get that person some help. The brain is a complicated instrument, and can produce many symptoms – like depression, that tells a person there is a problem within. Recognizing it means you can do something about it.
Curiosity.com — Mental Disorders, Are Baby Boomers More Depressed Than Members of Other Generations? http://curiosity.discovery.com/question/baby-boomers-depressed-other-generation
Discovery Channel — What causes depression? http://curiosity.discovery.com/question/what-causes-depression
Lund Institute — Depression: http://www.brainexplorer.org/brain_disorders/Focus_Depression.shtml
Teens Health — Depression: http://kidshealth.org/teen/your_mind/mental_health/depression.html