Depression is an illness. It is a "whole-body" illness, as defined by the National Institute of Mental Health, involving body, mind and spirit. It affects eating and sleeping, feelings about oneself, and thoughts about things. It affects mood and thoughts. It also attacks the spirit because of the helplessness and hopelessness it sometimes brings. A depressive disorder is not a passing "blue mood". It is not a sign of "personal weakness" or a condition that can be willed or wished away. Anyone with a depressive illness cannot merely "pull themselves together" and get better. Telling someone to "snap out" of a depression makes as much sense as saying to them to "snap out" of diabetes or cancer. Without treatment, symptoms can last for weeks to years and eventually can lead to suicide. Appropriate treatment, however, can help over 80% of those who suffer from depression.
Depression is not a personal weakness (54% believe it is).
It is estimated that almost every family in America has been touched in some way by depression (nearly 19 million Americans a year are affected - 9.5% of our adult population over age 18); 80% are not having treatment.
By 2020 depression will be the second highest health problem in the world, right behind heart disease.
Major depressive disorder is the #1 cause of disability in the U.S. for ages 15-44.
Suicide is the number 7 to 10 killer in America today (15% of depressed people will commit suicide).
Suicide is the number 2 or 3 killer among our your people (15-26).
(Note: Research by Specialty Research Associates, from data supplied by the Department of Health and Human Resources shows that completed youth suicide, among other social ills, "began a dramatic increase after the Engel vs. Vitale Supreme Court decision was made in 1962 which banned school prayer. The rates of youth suicide remained relative unchanged during the years from 1946 to the School Prayer decision in 1962. But in the years since, suicides among the same group (ages 15-24) have increased 253 percent, or an average of 10.5 percent per year."
1 in 7 teenagers seriously consider suicide.
Preschoolers are the fastest growing market for antidepressants (4%, over a million, are clinically depressed).
Bipolar Depression (manic-depressive illness) - A Manic-Depressive illness involves cycles of depression and elation or mania. Sometimes the mood switches are dramatic and rapid, but most often they are gradual. When in the depressed cycle, you can have any or all of the symptoms of a depressive disorder (see symptom list below). Mania often affects thinking, judgment, and social behavior in ways that cause serious problems and embarrassment. For example, unwise business or financial decisions may be made when in a manic phase.
Dysthymia Depression - A less severe type of depression, dysthymia involves long-term, chronic symptoms that do not disable, but keep one from functioning at "full steam" or from feeling good. Sometimes people with dysthymia also experience major depressive episodes.
Major Depression - Major Depression is manifested by a combination of symptoms (see symptom list below) that interfere with the ability to work, sleep, eat, and enjoy once-pleasurable activities. These disabling episodes of depression can occur once, twice, or several times in a lifetime.
Major Depression is what I suffered leading to my serious suicide attempt.
The key to remember is that depression is highly treatable by our medical professionals. And most importantly, failure to get treatment for depression can lead to suicide. "Suicide is the most preventable form of death there is." (www.qprinstitute.com)
Physical Ailment (i.e. Hypothyroidism, Concussion, Brain Injury PTSD, Hypoglycemia)
Unsuccessful Personal Choices (i.e. Drinking, Drugs - my case, Diet)
Severe Emotional Trauma (i.e. Death in the family [especially loss of a parent or child]; Child Abuse; Criticism/Rejection; Violence; Illnesses; Spiritual Crisis)
Sociological Factors (i.e. breakdown of the family structure)
Genetics or Biological (depression tends to run in families)
Side effects from some medications may cause depression and/or Suicidal Ideation. Please consult your doctor on all medications, prescribed and over the counter medications.
As one can see, depression is not just a "mental illness". Physical ailments often cause depression. However, in my case, it was wrong personal choices that caused my depression; mainly drinking, and later on, also marijuana. A deadly combination, I believe.
If any of these symptoms are experienced over a continuous two week period, it is imperative that treatment is received immediately:
NOTE: These are the danger signals for depression. Unfortunately they are not always visible, even to the trained observer.
In my experience with depression I had no trouble in getting to sleep. However, I did not have any dreams, no REM sleep. It was a very black sleep. Also, besides the thoughts of suicide, I was very irritable at times. A family friend told me after my attempt how irritable I was shortly before my attempt. Of course those around me did not know about these symptoms, so they did not realize how in need of help I was in.
And not having a saving relationship with my Lord Jesus Christ, I was without the help I truly needed.
In combatting depression it is very important that we keep certain priorities in life so that the difficulties in life don't side track us. The thoughts, feelings and emotions we have in traumatic experiences are normal in those situations. However, we cannot let them control our actions. Therefore, I have found these five priorities have helped me through many challenging times since my recovery.
I like to call these priorities the "five smooth stones". In the story of David and Goliath in 1 Samuel 17:40-50, David took "five smooth stones" in his pouch before he faced Goliath in battle. It only took his first stone to slay the giant and so too with our first stone it is the most important of the five. It is Faith.
Going through difficult times is never easy. Again, all those thoughts, feelings and emotions are normal in abnormal situations. However, it is very important to not let them govern our behavior. That's when we need help, starting with our Lord God, and who He may bring into the circumstances to walk with us through them and maintain these priorities.
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