Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Not-So-Great Depression

Symptoms of depression, according to the National Institute of Mental Health:
  • Persistent sad, anxious or "empty" feelings
  • Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and/or helplessness
Check, check and/or check.
  • Irritability, restlessness
Double check.
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
I'm too tired to even check this one off.
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions
What now?
  • Insomnia, early–morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
Off and on, yes, and yes (to the extent I can get away with it).
  • Overeating, or appetite loss
Yes to the former.
  • Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
No, thankfully.
  • Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
Yes, no, no and yes (but persistent aches and pains and digestive problems have been an accepted part of my ongoing existence for as long as I remember, so I can't say I've done much in the way of treatment in the recent past).


MoHoHawaii said...

Here's my RX:

- Pills. (Get some ASAP.)

- Fresh air and exercise.

- Funny movies, especially pre-1960.

- Talk a lot to your friends on the phone.

Being depressed is like being sick. You have to say to yourself "I don't feel so good today" and just make yourself a cup of tea. Pampering yourself isn't a bad idea when you're depressed.

I hope you feel better soon.

Julie said...

Interesting symptom list since I think probably many people at one time or another could say yes to a lot of those.

But you know depression is not common in men, it's more likely bipolar. =)

Seriously, though, you should go see someone. Most insurance now covers stuff like this, doesn't it?

ambrosia ananas said...

: (

Ditto on the exercise. Plus chocolate. Plus good books. And/or real help, of course. Hope things get better for you soon.

Lisa said...

Been there, done that. Not fun. Get help, don't wait. There is hope and you can get better!

Cricket said...

Oh Mr Fob. I wish I had the answer for you. Knowing is the first step, right? :)

Anonymous said...

Depression. Hell of a thing. It took me years to be willing to take any medication because I felt guilty, like I should be able to pull myself out of it, but once I finally gave in, I wondered why the heck I waited so long to do it. And, I only had to be on the medication temporarily, long enough to get my head above water and feel like I could deal again. Worth thinking about. Hope it lifts soon, however it does!

Scot said...

I wish I knew what works here. I know some family get depressed this time of year, but, if this has never happened in previous years, then what mohohawaii says.

Scott said...

A few thoughts:

If it's a recurring winter thing, look into Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD--I wonder if they named it specifically so that it would have an appropriate acronym?). Shorter daylight hours mess up your serotonin cycles, producing the "winter blahs" in many and more severe depressive symptoms in some. Meds can help, as can more exposure to bright light (esp. in the AM) and possibly vitamin D supplementation.

Don't try to convince yourself that you can talk yourself out of it, or that you just need to cheer up. If it's a major funk that's gone on for quite a while, it's likely more serious than "it's all in my head". You wouldn't try to talk yourself into walking on a broken leg, and you shouldn't feel bad about trying to get help for depression either.

That said, there are non-pill things you can do that might help, like the light exposure I mentioned, and the exercise and socializing others have mentioned. Also eat well--healthy food good, sugar bad.

If you do decide to try meds, don't feel like you have to accept whatever the Dr. gives you. Let him/her know if it's not working for you or if it has undesirable side effects, and keep adjusting doses and trying new things until you've found something that works well without side effects.

Word verification: montag (German for Monday, the most depressing day of the week)

Rebecca said...

Oh, man. I have stuff to say about this.

This SUCKS, and I feel for you.

I'm going to email you, because some of what I want to say is kind of personal (oh, let's be honest - I care nothing about baring it all in a public forum. It's just going to be LONG, so email is better, I think).

B.G. Christensen said...

Thank you, everyone.

MHH: I'm considering pills but am trying other options first, including fresh air and exercise. I have a healthy dose of humor in my life and I think that's helped it not be any worse than it's been. The thought of talking on the phone more than absolutely necessary is depressing.

Julie: Yeah, it also occurred to me that these symptoms aren't horribly uncommon. I suppose it's the combination of several of them for a prolonged period of time that tells you you're officially depressed. Whatever that means. If I'm bipolar then it's been years since my last manic episode.

Brozy: I've got the chocolate and good books covered, assuming by "good books" you mean "loads and loads of superhero comic books." They're my comfort food.

Lisa: Thanks.

Cricket: When I first diagnosed myself a couple months ago it was actually very depressing and I felt more hopeless than ever, but since then I've found that giving a name to how I feel gives me something specific to work on, and it's helped a lot.

Kari: I suppose one of my fears of medication is that I will become permanently dependent on it, so I'm encouraged to know that for many people it really is just a temporary thing until you can handle things yourself.

Scot: No, it's never happened before and this has been going more or less since August so I'm not sure I can blame the weather.

Scott: Yeah, one of the liberating things about calling this depression has been realizing that it's not just a matter of me needing to cheer up. It's much easier to work on taking the various pieces of advice everyone here has mentioned than to just try to force myself to be happy.

Rebecca: It makes it suck less to know I have so many people who care about me and are willing to share the knowledge they've gained from experience.

TK said...

Just re-read this and want to 'ditto' MoHo's suggestion: funny movies, recalling that seriously sick people have claimed to have healed themselves with laughter. For me it would be Home Improvement (Tim Allen) and Bill Murray. For you, maybe Napoleon Dynamite - or Three Stooges? - or whatever works.

B.G. Christensen said...

Yeah, I just got another season of the Simpsons on DVD, so I'm well-stocked on funny.