Sat | Dec 3, 2016

Dealing with depression

Published:Monday | February 23, 2015 | 12:00 AM
1
2
3
4

Have you been feeling a bit out of it lately? Have you lost interest in the things that were once fun and exciting? Do you find that you toss and turn at nights, but still you can't get out of bed for work or to do anything? Have you lost your appetite, or you are binge eating? Are you feeling hopeless, and withdrawn from everyone? If you have been experiencing some or all these symptoms, you might be on the verge of or are already going through depression.

There are many men and women who are currently going through depression - perhaps because of the loss of a loved one, just tired of being alone, stressed, among other reasons.

According to Cheril Thompson, PhD, clinical psychologist at Consolidated Health Service, clinical depression occurs when individuals undergo five of the series of physical and emotional changes for most of the days within a two-week period.

Depression can be incredibly isolating, and considering that the brain is the 'command centre' of the human body, it should be well taken care of. It controls the basic functions of our bodies, our movements, and our thoughts and emotions.

Here is a quick breakdown of some symptoms that will help you to identify depression:

Difficulty sleeping - Tossing and turning at nights, waking up very early in the morning, trouble falling asleep, or the opposite - excessive sleeping and having a hard time getting out of bed - are all signs of depression.

Disturbance in appetite - Eating too little or too much at once - even when you are not hungry you are snacking and constantly eating, especially unhealthy foods.

Loss of interest in activities - Things you found fun are not fun anymore, and you refuse to participate in social activities. You just want to be alone, but hate feeling lonely.

Irritability - You are easily irritated. You are crankier and angered at times. Some men manifest depression by being hostile, angry, or aggressive.

Hopelessness - The feeling of hopelessness is a serious one and may lead to suicidal thoughts. Although not everyone experiencing depression commits suicide, the moment you feel hopeless, that might trigger suicidal thoughts.

Loss of focus - You do not have the ability to process information like you used to. Depression fills one with negative thoughts, almost like an intrusion and you are slowed down and constantly thinking about negative things in your world. As a result, it makes it very difficult to focus on anything at work or at home.

Sexual dysfunction - Men often lose their desire and suffer from erectile dysfunction and it's one symptom that men are inclined not to report. Performance problems can come from depression and make it worse.

Substance abuse - Alcoholics are almost twice as likely to suffer from major depression as people without a drinking problem. It can happen for both men and women, but using drugs or alcohol to mask uncomfortable feelings is a strategy many men will employ instead of seeking help, which Thompson strongly encouraged: "Too many individuals are into the 'I should be able to fix this myself,' and so they turn to alcohol, which, more than likely, will cause health problems among other detrimental issues later on."

What the doctor says?

If you are already experiencing five or more of these symptoms within the past two weeks, Thompson said you need to visit a psychiatrist immediately. She also pointed out that men in particular might be skeptical about talking to a psychologist about what they are going through, but implores them to at least visit a medical practitioner, who will then prescribe medication that can

balance the hormones until therapy and coping mechanism are

implemented.

"Bear in mind, though, that if you do not get psychological help or coping mechanisms when you are on medication, the symptoms might come back," said Thompson.

Another option she stated is to speak with someone you feel comfortable with and whom you have confidence in - your spouse, mother, father, sister, brother, uncle, aunty ... just speak to someone. They might be able to accompany you to a psychiatrist or help you to develop some coping mechanisms.

Thompson also encouraged family members not to ignore any of these signs if noticed. If you notice that the person is withdrawn, constantly dropping things, getting angry easily or even drinking alcohol more than usual, try and find a subtle way to start a conversation. Your aim is to help, not criticise. If you do not have the answer, encourage or even accompany them to the office of a psychiatrist.

Thompson suggested another way to start your own method of coping by getting your feelings out by journalising, blogging or simple pampering yourself.You first need to admit that you are depressed and tell yourself that 'I am depressed and I am dealing with it and it's going to get better so I am going to pamper myself'.

She also emphasised that although you might feel a little better after a while, professional help is highly recommended, because the feeling will come back.

Lost a loved one

If you are depressed because you have lost a loved one, communicate with the people around you, let them know how you feel, and let them know you need support and encouragement. If they can't deal with that kind of pressure, be cool about it, "People do the best they know how," said Thompson. They might say that they will be there for you and when it all boils down, it seems like they are heartless, but it could be that they think they are helping, so communicate and try not to shut them out, especially people who care and really want to help.

There are different stages of grief that one must go through in order to get one's life back on track. Thompson said that it might take two or more years to reach that point where you are able to deal with the loss She implores that if after a few months you are still struggling with depression of the lost, you should not hesitate to join a support group. This will help you to not feel like you are alone and you will also get to hear what others are going through as well.

See a counsellor who should be able to deal with you at whatever level you are, they should build a rapport and help you, step by step, to walk again.

Cheril Thompson, PhD

Clinical Psychologist

Consolidated Health Service

14 Caledonia Avenue, Mandeville

Email: drcherilt@gmail.com

Contact: (876) 396-0561

cathy.risden@gleanerjm.com