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All about Depression

We all have a bad day now and then. Everybody gets down, even to the point of being depressed. Life is challenging, stuff happens, and sometimes it rains on our parade. And this is precisely why the entire concept of depression challenges us, both as sufferers and as those who live with sufferers. The line between “normal” bouts of depression and a bona fide medical problem can be elusive, it can blur beneath the winds of daily life, it can shift and disappear in the sand, only to reappear at a different level and in a different way. And because everybody gets depressed, our natural response is to pass it off as a normal part of making our way in a challenging world, which means we can be less than observant and tolerant when someone around us is suffering from depression to the extent it presents significant risks. On the other side of that line is the darker form of this affliction, called clinical depression, and like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, it can slowly seep into the pores of existence and disrupt the very foundation of happiness and relationships.

Depression – clinical or otherwise – manifests as the blues, a bad mood, a passing funk. But when it lasts, when it endures despite the presence of hope and support, when it becomes debilitating in a way that it impacts other areas of life, a closer look should be taken by those who care about the afflicted individual. It can affect performance at work, it can erode the atmosphere at home, and it can wreak internal havoc in the soul. It is difficult to diagnose and even more difficult to treat, as it appears with a wide variety of causes, symptoms and responses to therapy.

There are two primary means of treating clinical depression: psychotherapy and antidepressant drugs, with a combination of the two forming a third, hybrid approach. Treatment is dependent upon an accurate diagnosis, which is challenging because depression can be a side-effect or an adjunct symptom of other conditions, such as bi-polar disorders and certain chemical imbalances. This is precisely why simply waiting it out at home, weathering the emotional storm in the hope things will get better, is a risky proposition, and why the response of the family and friends of the depressed is a key component of healing. Depression manifests as more than simply a bad mood or low energy. It can involve loss of appetite, poor sleeping habits, irritability, fatigue, pessimism, feelings of worthlessness, even thoughts of death or suicide. Diagnosis is a complex and involved process, and treatment is detailed and critical.

All of this bodes caution for the loved ones and caretakers of the depressed. It may be tempting and even easy to write things off as a bad mood, and indeed, if a dark countenance has become irritating, if the depressed is written of as a victim, it can lead to judgment and tolerance. But this is precisely the wrong response, one that can lead to the allowance of the condition to accelerate to a dangerous point. Kindness and empathy are the watchwords, all with a view of determining that point at which professional help is required. The afflicted won’t call for help, which means the burden of making that decision resides in the lap of family, co-workers and loved ones. When you believe someone you care about is suffering from depression that could be at a clinical level, don’t hesitate. Call for help, do whatever it takes to bring the afflicted face-to-face with a professional.

Your caring and your courage to act goes way beyond simply cheering them up. You may just be saving their life.

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