The suicide death of so many celebrities and returning military from combat zones brings to the forefront the all too common problem of depression with the often end result of suicide.
We all have seen the many public service announcements by
the late Mike Wallace and others who have openly admitted their battle with
depression in an effort to shed light on an all too common problem.
With one out of every seven people in the modern world
dealing with this very serious mental health issue at some point in their life,
there is simply never enough emphasis placed on this condition.
There is so much which can be said about depression and yet
the reality is very few people actually attempt to do anything about either
their own condition or the condition of a friend or loved one.
Depression is generally defined as, a condition marked by
feelings of worthlessness, dejection and worry which is usually accompanied by
a state of unhappiness and pessimistic outlook on life.
The depressed person is susceptible to minor states of
frustration, feelings of guilt and even occasional paranoia with a tendency to
feel they are either a failure or failure prone.
Basically the depressed person develops low self-esteem and
an overall feeling of inadequacy.
In more severe cases, depression may result in suicide.
Depression can be brought on by many things including
Parkinson disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease.
It has now been stated by the wife of the late Robin Williams
that he was actually suffering from the early stages of Parkinson which might
have contributed to his depression.
As an epileptic, this writer is well aware of the potential
of the medication I take as well as the disorder itself which can lead to
depression. In fact, my neurologists always ask me on each checkup visit if I
am experiencing any depression.
As a child I witnessed the constant depression of my late mother
and wanted to know more about the subject which ultimately led to my study of
Unfortunately, my mother never really recognized she had
clinical depression; although it was quite evident to those around her.
For my mother as well as both of my Grandmothers, they simply
addressed their problem as being “down in the dumps” or “having the blues”.
Down in the dumps and having the blues doesn’t last a life
time but genuine clinical depression can; especially left untreated.
It should be noted here, that there is a clear clinical
distinction between a person suffering from what is known as a “neurotic
depressive reaction” which might result from a difficult situation or traumatic
life event such as a divorce or family member’s death and “psychotic
“Psychotic depression” includes a variety of widely known
depressions known as “manic-depression” and “Bi-polar condition” (which today
is often included as one depression type).
Persons diagnosed with a psychotic depression usually have a
long history of mood swings and depressed episodes accompanied by extreme
paranoia, delusions and hallucinations.
Although both forms of depression are treated similarly,
most forms of Psychotic depression require long term use of medication,
personal and group psychotherapy and often even in-patient hospitalization.
In short, depression should never be ignored.
In contemporary society, there is simply no need for anyone
to suffer with the pain of depression or to inflict in those around us the pain
of watching our reactions to difficult and depressed feelings.
With proper psychotherapy and medication most types of
depression can be “handled” and most people live a full, healthy and satisfied
Available medication, good doctors, neurologist and
psychotherapist are usually the easy part.
The difficult part is helping people understand they have a
problem and then leading them to seek out the appropriate solution.
Bear in mind, you cannot push a depressed person; it can
only make their situation worst.
Most men cover up their feelings and as such seldom admit
they’re having any kind of an emotional problem.
Even if their Family doctor prescribes some medication and
warns the patient one of the side effects can be depression, many men will
simply respond by saying, “it’s nothing I can’t deal with”.
Women usually will seek professional help for depression the
quickest due to recognizing and understanding their own feelings.
Unlike men, women openly and easily display their feelings
and emotions; any change in that normality seen by themselves or their friends
and family often sends up a red flag that something is wrong.
As a result a visit to the doctor, therapist or at the least
the best friend or hair stylist is sought to talk things out.
Herein is where depression becomes everybody’s problem.
Women realize for the most part, that “airing out” their
feelings or differences helps and often even bring about a solution or complete
healing of the depressed state of mine.
Men on the other hand hold it in and are very good at
putting up a façade that there is “nothing wrong”.
Teens too, are often good at hiding their true feelings for
fear of being “singled out” and made fun of for admitting they have a problem,
talking about it to friends and family and seeking the professional help they
In over thirty years of counseling, the main reason most
people came to me ultimately led back to depression.
Their depression escalated other problems such as marriage
and family relationships, employment problems, long time friendships and
various forms of sexual dysfunction.
Often depression can affect health problems such as
appetite, weight gain or loss, hair loss, visual problems and much more.
Many times it is necessary for a psychologist to refer a
patient back to their family doctor in order to eliminate a possible physical
Again, depression is such a huge problem that it is
everybody’s problem; it is a personal problem, and your friends’ and family’s
It is your church and pastor’s problem and it is your family
doctor and psychotherapist’s problem.
It takes all of us working together to recognize our own depression and/or that of our friends, family and co-workers.
Depression is indeed everybody’s business and my next Christian Counseling article will look at its many warning signs.
© 2019 Lee W. Outlaw III, PhD