De­pres­sion should be dealt with, not de­nied or ig­nored

North Penn Life - - Opinion -

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

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