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Are You Depressed?
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Am I Just Down or Am I Depressed?
A Personal Reflection

 

Patricia L. Rahn
Omicron Chapter, New Jersey

 

Associate Professor
Department of Teacher Education
Philadelphia Biblical University
Langhorne, Pa 19047

prahn@pbu.edu

 

Definitions and Symptoms

 

Definition of Depression: Depression is a medical disorder that day after day affects your thoughts, feelings, physical health, and behavior.

Very often, a combination of biological, psychological, and environmental factors are involved in the development of depressive disorders. Clinical depression affects your physical well-being, resulting in chronic fatigue, sleep problems, and changes in appetite. It affects your mood, with feelings of sadness, emptiness, hopelessness and dysphoria. It affects the way you think, interfering with concentration and decision making. And, it affects your behavior, with increased irritability and loss of temper, social withdrawal, and a reduction in your desire to engage in pleasurable activities. These symptoms will last continuously for at least two weeks.

 

Depression may be caused by:

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family history or genetics

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other general illnesses

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certain medicines

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drugs or alcohol

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other psychiatric illnesses

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some major life condition, such as, extreme grief or stress

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no discernible reason

 

My story

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Life until 45

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Life after 45

How did I recognize something was wrong?

What other symptoms did I have (in hindsight)?

Getting well - time and money

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Today

The Lingering Symptoms of My Depression

After 9 years, with my depression in remission and still being treated by medication and counseling 4 to 6 times a year, I realize there are lingering symptoms:

Inability to concentrate or do an activity for long periods of time

Inability to handle the content of deeply emotional or violent books or films

Inability to handle extreme tiredness without reverting to depressive symptoms, such as, crying.

Continued lack of energy - need for a daily nap

There is Growth

My active depression has been in remission for four years.

I am enjoying life more than I ever did before.

I appreciate beauty in the small things. I always have flowers on my desk.

I am getting better at getting things done and keeping up with continuing tasks, such as, grading papers.

I am taking more of an interest in my surroundings at home and work. Disorganization in my environment is reflective of disorganization in my life.

Sex with my husband has stopped being a homework assignment and is again pleasurable!

 

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What Have I Learned

One of the greatest comforts throughout my experience was talking to people either in or recovered from depression. It was so reassuring to know that I wasn=t Acrazy@.

Depression afflicts 17 million Americans a year. Women are twice as likely as men to suffer from periods of clinical depression.

If treated, 80% of people with diagnosed clinical depression will recover.

A person in depression needs to lessen responsibilities and ask for help.

Depression, not treated, gets worse.

Depression is best treated by talk therapy and medication, if needed. Appropriate therapy by a psychiatrist and a counselor is expensive and time consuming.

Depression can take a long time to treat.

Many people become depressed in their mid-40's when their natural energy begins to lessen.

Druggists are not impressed by prescriptions for anti-depressants.

Depression can put a major strain on a family.

Are you depressed?

If you have at least five or more of the following symptoms including the first two for at least two weeks, you may have a depressive disorder.

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loss of interest in things you used to enjoy, including sex. **

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feeling sad, blue, or down in the dumps.**

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feeling slowed down or restless and unable to sit still.

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feeling worthless or guilty.

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changes in appetite or weight loss or gain.

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thoughts of death or suicide; suicide attempts.

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problems concentrating, thinking, remembering, or making decisions.

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trouble sleeping or sleeping too much.

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loss of energy or feeling tired all of the time.

(A Depression is a Treatable Illness: A Patient=s Guide@ USD of Heath and Human Development

Signs and Symptoms: Depression in Young Children

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They are noticeably sad.

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Within limits they will discuss their depression.

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They refuse to discuss their problems.

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Their academic work suffers.

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They become moody.

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Their social life suffers.

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They may change physical habits.

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They may have suicidal thoughts or make a suicide attempt.

Signs and Symptoms: Depression in Adolescents and Older Teens

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A subjective feeling of sadness or hopelessness.

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Moodiness.

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A bleak outlook for the future.

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Disturbances of eating.

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Sleep disturbances.

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Changes in social life.

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Chemical abuse.

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Suicidal ideas.

Surviving the Darkness: Hope for Those Dealing with Depression. Ketterman, Grace. Nelson, 1993.

How Can You Help Students

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Help them organize and prioritize assignments.

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Break reading and assignments into small tasks. Develop checklists for the student.

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Realize that the ability to concentrate is greatly affected.

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Whenever possible, modify assignments that require shorter lengths of concentration.

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Be patient. The student will have down days. He or she cannot make themselves feel better.

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Communicate with parents what symptoms you observe. Hopefully, parents will communicate with you about symptoms and medication.