Depression should be dealt with, not denied or ignored
We seem to drift into being happy or the opposite, feeling depressed as we age. Depression is often is associated with “worry.” According to a recent thought on the subject, those who worry usually go to the doctor more often and because they have more medical examinations and tests, usually live longer.
This sounds good on paper but, excess worrying might release hormones known to shorten life. Happy people worry less and have the attitude that “fate” has them under control. When it’s time to suffer or die, fate has made the decision that a person should leave the end to the “Maker” to decide. In the meantime, enjoy life!
It seems the part of our population that spends the most time worrying has the most members. One in four adults suffers from a mental disorder any given year. Of the nearly 75 million Americans affected by some form of depression, aged 18 or older, 9.2 million are clinically depressed. Unfortunately, two-thirds who are depressed fail to seek medical help.
In the United States, women are twice as likely to be depressed com- pared to men. Women, also, are twice as likely to suffer a phobia or a panic disorder. However, men have a higher risk than women of alcoholism, substance abuse and conduct disorders. A major depression can be inherited. Among first degree relatives of a depressed person, a relative is 1.5 to 3 times more likely to develop depression compared to the general public.
People in the United States with mood disorders, 18 and older, number 20 million. Major depressive disorder, the leading cause of disability in the United States for ages 15 to 41 years, reaches 14.8 million in a given year. The list of those with mental disorders includes bipolar disorder at 5.7 million, dysthymic disorders which are chronic but mild at 3.3 million, and schizophrenia at 2.4 million. Depression is not a disease of old people. Nearly 2 million teens suffer a depressive episode in a year. In 2006, 33,000 died by suicide in the United States and 1 million attempted it but failed to succeed. Four times as many men die of suicide as women, but women attempt suicide two to three times more often than men.
Also, it should be noted, that many people have more than one mental illness at a time.
More than 40 million adults suffer an anxiety disorder in a given year. The World Health Organization has published some facts on people more likely to get depressed. The list includes people who did not get a high school education. Depression is related to the level of education with graduates of college less likely to be depressed. The WHO noted that blacks, Hispanics and also those without health insurance as well as those individuals unable to find work or those currently unemployed were often depressed. Depression is noted in nearly 30 percent of people who have substance abuse problems. These people usually have a depression that is easily recognized by friends and family.
Early signs of depression are problems with eating when people lose their appetite or, the opposite, overeat. A seriously depressed person has trouble at work getting along with fellow workers. The depressed person feels worthless, has trouble concentrating, loses interest in events that usually bring pleasure and often has thoughts of death or suicide. People who are unhappy with themselves may become frustrated because others give them advice that is wrong such as pep talks by friends and family that “you can talk yourself out of a mental problem by just trying instead of getting professional help.”
Many mental disorders are difficult to identify except by a psychiatrist who could give professional help.
In contrast to people who are unhappy or depressed, many are happy. Studies have shown that the most important mood elevator is news of good health. People who are healthy are happier by 20 percent compared to those who are unaware of their health status. People who are married are 10 percent happier than single people and those with a lot of money are happier than the rest of the public. These studies are difficult to really evaluate because money will pay for better doctors, lawyers and lifestyles. Being able to buy an expensive car instead of taking a loan to repair it does bring a sigh of relief to people who would have been depressed.
Steps can be taken to feel happier: Exercise regularly, make friendships that involve attendance at religious activities or prayer where people often interact and welcome others, try to smile and seem interested in others by asking questions. Don’t spend time telling others how terrible you feel. Avoid comparing yourself to someone else. When a person is continuing to feel sad or depressed, it’s time to get professional help.
Happy people get a lift from helping others. No one should have envy of others. It is rewarding to help those in need and it takes work to be happy with what one has. Interestingly, studies have shown that unhappy people watch an excess of television. Being happy cannot be measured by dollars saved. Notice how the most famous people in history gave of themselves with service, not checks for money.
Health & Science Dr. Milton Friedman