I find treating depression intriguing!

Depression is one of those “There is more there than meets the eye” things.  A person could be “depressed” because: They have Major Affective Disorder, a medical condition that produces recurrent bouts of depression. They could be “depressed” in reaction to a major loss in their life, i.e., your father died, your girlfriend broke up with you, etc.  You could be “depressed” because something you thought that would happen, i.e., winning the lottery, didn’t occur. Finally, people complain to being “depressed” because their boss is a jerk, they have psoriasis or they have gained weight….or because they never exercise, overeat, drink or smoke pot too much, never give to others or pray, never get enough sleep and have nothing in their lives that brings them fun or excitement.

So when someone reports being depressed, I ask a lot of questions!

I have worked with people who are “clinically depressed”; the aforementioned Major Affective Disorder.  I am one of those people.  I believe I inherited it from my father and grandfather. There is treatment for this:  Become aware of and monitor your symptomology, take your medications, get regular exercise, eat well, get sufficient sleep, put fun in your life, engage in spiritual activities, i.e., pray, giving to others, and maintain a healthy sex life (as your life situation allows).

These things, I do.  Of my symptomology, I always monitor the frequency and intensity of my anger and negative self-talk. I take my Prozac, every day. I exercise 3-5 times a week, get 8 hours of sleep a night, consult with a nutritionist regarding my diet, pray on a daily basis,  give to others often, work in my yard and ride my motorcycle.

People can live with depression…just as they live with diabetes or cancer!

Often, what is called depression is really loss or grief. If your father dies or your girlfriend breaks up with you, you SHOULD feel down.  Further, if you expect something to occur that doesn’t, that too can lead to feeling down. If you expect to find a job after graduating college, and after a year’s search, you are still unemployed, you will feel down.

Feeling down however, is not the same of being depressed. Feeling “down” usually lasts a shorter amount of time and is less intense. Can feeling down lead to depression? It can, the more intense the loss is, the longer the loss lasts and the more areas of the person’s life are affected.

Often, I will work with people who are struggling with just one area of their lives, i.e., their marriage, their job, etc. Whether we are talking a spouse struggling with their mate or an employee who has a jerk for a boss, in such situations, the person can feel trapped and consequently depressed.  In such situations, I will begin working with the person on their self-talk in critical situations; assess their skill level in for example, the area of assertiveness, etc.  Sometimes, changes in these areas can rectify the situation.  Sometimes, more significant decisions have to be made, i.e., a change in jobs, a structured separation or divorce.

More recently, I have begun seeing people who complain of depression but in fact appear to be struggling with a relatively mild case of narcissism and social insecurity; a sense of entitlement and self-centeredness that I believe comes from our internet-centered lives, the belief that one must be in charge of all aspects of life and a lack of experience interacting with life because they do almost everything on-line. These expectations are unrealistic and the anxiety keeps them afraid of taking the risk of interacting with the real world. The solution….again, skill development, monitoring negative self-talk and encouragement.