This may be of assistance as you journey through my blog…
Problems and misfortunes are a part of life. Everyone experiences unhappiness, and many people may become depressed temporarily when things don’t go as they would like. Experiences of failure commonly result in temporary feelings of worthlessness and self-blame, while personal losses cause feelings of sadness, disappointment and emptiness. Such feelings are normal, and they usually pass after a short time. This is not the case with depressive illness.
What are the signs of depressive illness?
DEPRESSION ~~ becomes an illness, or clinical depression, when the feelings described above are severe, last for several weeks, and begin to interfere with one’s work and social life. Depressive illness can change the way a person thinks and behaves, and how his/her body functions. Some of the signs to look for are:
~~ feeling worthless, helpless or hopeless,
~~ sleeping more or less than usual,
~~ eating more or less than usual,
~~ having difficulty concentrating or making decisions,
~~ loss of interest in taking part in activities,
~~ decreased sex drive,
~~ avoiding other people,
~~ overwhelming feelings of sadness or grief,
~~ feeling unreasonably guilty,
~~ loss of energy, feeling very tired,
~~ thoughts of death or suicide
Bipolar disorder, also called manic depression, is an illness in which there are periods of serious depression, followed by episodes of markedly elevated or irritable moods or “highs” (in the absence of drugs or alcohol). These mood swings are not necessarily related to events in the person’s life. Bipolar disorder affects approximately 1% of the population; it typically starts in late adolescence or early adulthood and affects men and women equally. Depression and bipolar disorder can be treated. There is good reason for hope. By learning more about these conditions, you can help remove the stigma that prevents many people from seeking help.
Anxiety disorders are a group of disorders which affect behaviour, thoughts, emotions and physical health. Research into their origins continues, but it is believed they are caused by a combination of biological factors and an individuals personal circumstances, much like other health problems, such as heart disease or diabetes. It is common for people to suffer from more than one anxiety disorder; and for an anxiety disorder to be accompanied by depression, eating disorders or substance abuse. Anxiety disorders can also coexist with physical disorders, in which case the physical condition should also be treated.
Some of the signs to look for are:
Panic Disorder – As the name suggests, panic disorder is expressed in panic attacks which occur without warning, accompanied by sudden feelings of terror. Physically, an attack may cause chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, abdominal discomfort, feelings of unreality and fear of dying. When a person avoids situations that he or she fears may cause a panic attack, his or her condition is described as panic disorder with agoraphobia.
Phobias ~~ Phobias are divided into two categories: social phobia, which involves fear of social situations, and specific phobias, such as fear of flying, blood and heights.
Social Phobia ~~ People with social phobia feel a paralyzing, irrational self-consciousness about social situations. They have an intense fear of being observed or of doing something horribly wrong in front of other people. The feelings are so extreme that people with social phobia tend to avoid objects or situations that might stimulate that fear, which dramatically reduces their ability to lead a normal life.
Specific Phobias – Fear of flying, fear of heights and fear of open spaces are some typical specific phobias. People suffering from a specific phobia are overwhelmed by unreasonable fears, which they are unable to control. Exposure to feared situations can cause them extreme anxiety and panic, even if they recognize that their fears are illogical.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder ~~ A terrifying experience in which serious physical harm occurred or was threatened can cause post-traumatic stress disorder. Survivors of rape, child abuse, war or a natural disaster may develop post-traumatic stress disorder. Common symptoms include flashbacks, during which the person re-lives the terrifying experience, nightmares, depression and feelings of anger or irritability.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder ~~ This is a condition in which people suffer from persistent unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and / or rituals (compulsions) which they find impossible to control. Typically, obsessions concern contamination, doubting (such as worrying that the iron hasn’t been turned off) and disturbing sexual or religious thoughts. Compulsions include washing, checking, organizing and counting.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder ~~ Characterized by repeated, exaggerated worry about routine life events and activities, this disorder lasts at least six months, during which time the person is affected by extreme worry more days than not. The individual anticipates the worst, even if others would say they have no reason to expect it. Physical symptoms can include nausea, trembling fatigue, muscle tension, or headache.
Eating Disorders ~ Eating disorders can be difficult to detect. The media glamourization of so-called ideal bodies, coupled with the view that dieting is a normal activity, can obscure a person’s eating problems. It can be difficult for a person with an eating disorder to admit they have a problem. Knowing how to support someone with an eating disorder is also a challenge. Treatment is available – it can be a long process, but an eating disorder can be overcome. If you think that you, or someone you know, has an eating disorder, it is important to learn the facts. Gaining an understanding of these conditions is the first step in the journey to wellness.
Clearly, these potentially life-threatening conditions are a growing problem. Despite their collective label, these disorders are not about food. Eating disorders are a way of coping with deeper problems that a person finds too painful or difficult to deal with directly. They are complex conditions that signal difficulties with identity, self-concept and self-esteem. Eating disorders cross cultural, racial and socio-economic boundaries, and affect men and women.
SAD ~~ Weather often affects people’s moods. Sunlight breaking through clouds can lift our spirits, while a dull, rainy day may make us feel a little gloomy. While noticeable, these shifts in mood generally do not affect our ability to cope with daily life. Some people, however, are vulnerable to a type of depression that follows a seasonal pattern. For them, the shortening days of late autumn are the beginning of a type of clinical depression that can last until spring. This condition is called “Seasonal Affective Disorder,” or SAD.
Information and online source: Canadian Mental Health Association