I have always been interested in physical health. I think about exercise, sleep, and what food I put in my body. Most people think about their physical bodies a lot- it’s what we see in the mirror every day and what helps us get from here to there. But what about our mental and emotional health? There isn’t as much emphasis on this, so that’s what I have been trying to focus on the past couple of years. What is going on in that head!?
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. I’m finding out what I thought mental illness was- crazy people yelling obscenities on Venice Beach (last month) or scary people in a horror film wearing straight jackets, or Bill Murray in one of my favorite movies WHAT ABOUT BOB is NOT reality. Those are the extreme cases of being insane, not the norm. Insane ¢ In a state of extreme annoyance or distraction.
Oh, let’s just see that movie trailer first! This is the best…
Bob may have gone a little overboard on seeking professional help- do you think?!
I have been studying about mental health, but realize there is so much more to learn- I have only just begun.It’s easier for me to understand if I look at it as the study of how our brains work. The brain is so amazing. It’s a complex computer system inside all of us. Nerve cells, chemicals, neurons, genes, stress and temperament are just a beginning of how the brain processes information. Now of course things can happen to this hard working machine, but there are ways to help balance it.
I searched depression because it’s a part of our family DNA- and I didn’t even realize it. To be honest, I wasn’t very excited to learn about this. I wanted to learn about happiness! But they may go hand in hand- you just have to be aware first. So this is why I’m doing it – so those I care about can be happy.
So here we have it… Insane things I’ve learned about depression! Depression affects 20-25% of Americans ages 18+ in a given year. That means that one in four or five people are suffering. I have always been the type of person to see the glass as half full or FULL. But that’s not how everyone sees it. My first husband felt down a lot of the time and I thought it was just his personality. He had been this way since we met at the age of 17. I thought telling him to look at life from the bright side would help, but now I know you can’t beat depression by sheer willpower.I didn’t realize at the time that he could have been labeled as “depressed”. I didn’t even know how to recognize depression or put a name to it until after his death. He had diabetes, so we thought his hard days were from that- and it could have been a part of it, but a health professional could have helped us properly diagnose his symptoms. Depression also affects spouses, friends and family. It makes me sad that with professional help he could have learnedsimplelifestyle changes and coping skills and been happier. Now I can’t help my husband who has passed, but it’s not too late for me to help others in my family or those who I can reach out to. Depression can be hereditary so it is certainly something I’m looking out for. If I can help one person, this process will be worth it. For this reason I have jumped on the awareness bus and am willing to share my story on how AWARENESS IS SO IMPORTANT!
Sadness is universal. It happens to all of us because we all have struggles and disappointments, but depression is much more than sadness. It’s more of an emptiness and despair that won’t go away. It’s different than the normal lows. One way to know if depression is a part of your life or someone you love is check to see how many symptoms you have, how strong they are and if they have lasted a long time. (See checklist below)The hard part is everyone is so different. Some people feel like they are living in darkness. Some feel lifeless, stressed, angry, overly tired or have a hard time concentrating.Talking to a doctor about what’s going on in your mind is so important. There are many kinds of depression. Situational depression is temporary and brought on by major life events and can be treated as well, but help will only be needed for a short time.
Many people associate depression with a sign of weakness. It’s not. It is a treatable health condition that affects millions of people. There are always options and ways to successfully treat and manage depression.I’m so grateful for experts who have decided it’s time for all of us to learn more about it and will take the time to teach us.
I am grateful forwhat I’ve learned about depression so far- it’s not what I thought it was. Our mental health is as important as our physical health- maybe more! It takes courage to seek help, but please talk to a professional about your feelings- whether it is you or a family member that you are worried about. It will change your life!You are worth it.
“Life isn’t always pleasant or easy, but being unhappy all the time is a problem you can overcome. Learn what you need to know to identify, understand and successfully solve the challenges of depression.” ~helpguide.org
These are a few websites a family counselor suggested:
save.org (depression checklist and awareness)
(articles and other resources)
(find therapists and news)
There’s fabulous information on these websites such as this-
Depression Checklist by SAVE.ORG
It’s normal to feel some of the following symptomsfrom time to time, but experiencing several or more for more than two or three weeks may indicate the presence of depression or another depressive illness. Remember, you must seek a professional for an accurate diagnosis of depression. This checklist is provided only as a tool to help you talk with your doctor or treatment provider about your concerns and develop an action plan for successful recovery.
Please note:Other illnesses and certain medications can cause symptoms that mimic the symptoms of depression. A complete medical examination should be performed to rule out the presence of other medical conditions potentially causing depressive symptoms.
- I feel sad.
- I feel like crying a lot.
- I’m bored.
- I feel alone.
- I don’t really feel sad, just “empty”.
- I don’t have confidence in myself.
- I don’t like myself.
- I often feel scared, but I don’t know why.
- I feel mad, like I could just explode!
- I feel guilty.
- I can’t concentrate.
- I have a hard time remembering things.
- I don’t want to make decisions – it’s too much work.
- I feel like I’m in a fog.
- I’m so tired, no matter how much I sleep.
- I’m frustrated with everything and everybody.
- I don't have fun anymore.
- I feel helpless.
- I’m always getting into trouble.
- I’m restless and jittery. I can't sit still.
- I feel nervous.
- I feel disorganized, like my head is spinning.
- I feel self-conscious.
- I can’t think straight. My brain doesn’t seem to work.
- I feel ugly.
- I don't feel like talking anymore – I just don't have anything to say.
- I feel my life has no direction.
- I feel life isn't worth living.
- I consume alcohol/take drugs regularly.
- My whole body feels slowed down – my speech, my walk, and my movements.
- I don’t want to go out with friends anymore.
- I don’t feel like taking care of my appearance.
- Occasionally, my heart pounds, I can’t catch my breath, and I feel tingly.
- My vision feels strange and I feel I might pass out. The feeling passes in seconds, but I’m afraid it will happen again.
- Sometimes I feel like I’m losing it.
- I feel “different” from everyone else.
- I smile, but inside I’m miserable.
- I have difficulty falling asleep or I awaken between 1 A.M. and 5 A.M. and then I can’t get back to sleep.
- My appetite has diminished – food tastes so bland.
- My appetite has increased – I feel I could eat all the time.
- My weight has increased/decreased.
- I have headaches.
- I have stomachaches.
- My arms and legs hurt.
- I feel nauseous.
- I’m dizzy.
- Sometimes my vision seems blurred or slow.
- I’m clumsy.
- My neck hurts.
I didn’t know this either… Differences between men and women’s depression: