Thursday, September 1, 2011

Way Down In The Dumps - Are You Depressed?

I have suffered from "Atypical Depression" since I was in my teens, and way back then there was not much in the way of help for the disease apart from drugs like Valium.  As understanding of the human brain and its processes has progressed, so too have the treatment options for depression, as has recognition that it is a disease like any other.  As such, we have no control over it.  Many depressives feel immense guilt for being ill, which is misplaced to say the least.  As my dear doctor explained to me years ago "If you contracted measles, would you feel guilty?" - depression is out of our control in the same way as catching a cold, or the measles. 

The current findings are that medication together with counselling is usually the  best way of treating this awful illness.  I was told that if you suffer from one major depressive episode you are usually given some form of anti-depressant for a period of approximately three months.  Two major episodes - six months.  Three or more major episodes and you are on medication for life.  My medication is for life.

There has been a fairly recent breakthrough in genetics as well.  Although for years it was known that there is a genetic link to depression, scientists have now isolated the gene responsible.  In my own family we can trace the depression through our family history for many generations.  There are suicides in every generation, up to the present day.  Family members living in USA and New Zealand have also confirmed that depression continued down their branch of the family.  So with us it is a little like facing a loaded gun!
I do remember my mother telling me of a cousin who had, I think, eight children.  After each birth she was committed to a mental institution.  How dreadfully sad, how awful, when it is obvious to us now that she was suffering from Post Natal Depression - so very common.  So very treatable nowadays.
The purpose of this blog is one of reassurance primarily.

If you believe you have depression - get help!  There is no stigma attached to depression, unlike in the past.   It is treatable, the medication prescribed is not addictive - as was Valium and the like.  And the doctor understands what is happening with you.  You may have to try several different medications before you and the doctor find one that is suitable for you - but there are many options and many anti-depressants can be used in combination with each other.  
For the signs and symptoms, please read my next blog.


Nels Angels said...

Good Blog Carol

SMH said...

Good posts thanks for sharing these.