Monday, 13 August 2012

How does depression affect your daily life?

Depression is a disorder that can ruin your life. For many people depression sneaks up on us gradually. We are going about our daily lives and it is only in looking back that we start to realise that our attitude to life has changed. Often it is our family, friends or work colleagues that notice these changes before us.
  • It affects your physical well-being, resulting in chronic fatigue, sleep problems, and changes in appetite.
  • It prevents you from enjoying and living your life to the fullest
  • You've lost interest in sex or even physical affection
  • It affects your mood, with feelings of sadness, emptiness, hopelessness and dysphoria.
  • Your place is a mess; laundry and dishes are piled up, mail is unopened, etc.
  • We no longer have the same energy and enthusiasm in our relationships.
  • You've been making excuses to friends why you can't get together with them, or you're telling them you're "just too tired."
  • We often prefer to stay home rather than go out, be alone rather than share and talk. We push others away.
  • We become very self focussed and sensitive, easily offended, and quick to snap.
  • As our relationships start to break down, we blame ourselves. We feel worthless, believing that no-one would want to be with us because we don't want to be with ourselves. We push people away and then feel worse because we are alone.
  • It takes you a whole weekend to do chores that used to only occupy a morning.
  • You've really let yourself go - you're wearing clothes that make you look dumpy, you've stopped exercising, you're not shaving unless it's absolutely necessary.
  • It affects the way you think, interfering with concentration and decision making.
  • You miss out on the sun, the moon, the stars, the sky, the universe, and cats & dogs.
  • You're drinking or using drugs to escape the pain.
  • it affects your behavior, with increased irritability and loss of temper, social withdrawal, and a reduction in your desire to engage in pleasurable activities.
  • You lose things, you lose track of things and can't always remember what day it is.
  • You've pretty much stopped eating, or caring what you eat and whether it tastes good.
  • On the flip side, you may be eating all the time because you're bored and hope that food will somehow satisfy the vacant feeling you have.
  • Sleeping difficulties have started creeping in - either difficulty sleeping, erratic sleeping patterns or difficulty staying awake.

Depression and the Mind-Body Connection

There is a strong possibility that when a patient goes to the doctor with depression, to be treated within the medical model, they may underplay or not even mention physical symptoms, thinking that “they’re all in the mind” — meaning not real, not worthy of attention. In fact, pain is felt in all kinds of ways, and when doctors and patients alike recognise that, research shows that treatment works better.
The mind-body connection is something which most people agree exists, yet it is open to a variety of interpretations. Where painful conditions and depression occur together we could say we are in a chicken and egg situation. The very fact that we use the same word ‘pain’ to cover the sensation of having a physical injury and the end of a love affair is telling.
As a therapist I am acutely aware of the way pains of all kinds get stored and held within the body, protected and looked after there. In the same way in which we injure our backs and then start to walk strangely in order not to disturb the hurt area and cause pain, we can protect ourselves from emotional pain by avoiding triggers and getting stuck in certain ways of relating or being that at first are artificial and then seem to ‘be us’. The problem is that both the physical and emotional problems can then become chronic.
Furthermore, the more research is done on the way the central nervous system and neural pathways work, the more it seems that emotions and physical pain move in similar ways, and are often experienced together due to their sharing a neurological pathway<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[1]<!--[endif]-->.
There is still a strong possibility, though, that when a patient goes to the doctor with depression, to be treated within the medical model, they may underplay or not even mention physical symptoms, thinking that “they’re all in the mind” — meaning not real, not worthy of attention. In fact, pain is felt in all kinds of ways, and when doctors and patients alike recognise that, research shows that treatment works better.
The World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) and WONCA, The World Organization of Family Doctors, have recently conducted the Mind-Body Connection Survey, an international online survey of 252 adults who have received at least one prescription treatment for depression in the past year and 501 GPs or family doctors.
Findings from the Mind-Body Connection Survey suggest that when doctors initiated discussion about both emotional and physical symptoms, there was a positive impact on depression management and recovery. Patients who discussed the mind-body connection with their doctor had more understanding of how the treatment worked (82% rather than 67% in those who did not discuss the matter), and believed that treating both physical and emotional symptoms was of importance. In fact I would say that the discussion, maybe the sheer fact of having an open discussion with the doctor, promoted a feeling of wholeness in the patients. Positive feelings and understanding of treatment are also likely in themselves to help the process of healing along.
Those who had a deeper understanding of the mind-body connection themselves were much quicker (a year quicker) in going to the doctor in the first place and asking for help. Understanding of the wholeness of mind and body seems associated with being more proactive and maybe on an underlying level more positively valuing the self. It also seems that the more awareness there is of the reality of someone’s experience, and the more communication there is between the helper and the helped, the more strongly the healing process is initiated. It looks, in fact, as though the therapeutic method occurs, and is effective, right within the medical model of treatment for distress.
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<!--[endif]--><!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[1]<!--[endif]--> Bair MJ et al. Depression and Pain Comorbidity. A Literature Review; Archives of Internal Medicine: Vol. 163 No, 20, November 10 2003.

Basbaum AI and Fields HL. Endogenous Pain Control Systems: Brainstem Spinal Pathways and Endorphin Circuitry. Ann. Rev Neurosci.
Depression is one of the most devastating mental illnesses. Unlike other physical ailments, depression deprives you of the capability to live well.
If you are suffering from mental depression, you are not alone. There are millions of people all over the world who have this disorder. You can go on for years without getting anything done, or, worse, having any idea what you want to do with your life. You just get lost, and so you drift from one thing to another, not knowing what you want from life. If you mental conditions further deteriorate, you may even lose the ability to be present to almost anything. No matter what you do, you do it only half-heartedly. As a result, you have no sense of achievement, and you are not getting anything done in your life. You will be spiraling down into a bottomless pit of despair.
In depression, you tend to see things with your brain, instead of with your eyes; similarly, you hear with your brain and not with your ears. Perception is all in the mind. But, unfortunately, these deceptive perceptions become so "real" to you that you begin to "believe" in them, especially when they continually talk to you as internal dialogues.
People with mental depression usually have muddled thinking: there are too many thoughts filtering through their minds. As a result, they have a tendency to analyze or to explain their perceptions so as to make some sense of or to draw some conclusions from what is going through their mind. Unfortunately, analyzing or thinking through what is in the mind will only create more mental blockages that only perpetuate the inertness and sense of loss, which are characteristic of a depressive mind.
Instead of explaining or striving to explain any given situation or event, you just learn to let go. The ability to let go of what you are holding on to holds the key to recovery. Many individuals suffering from mental depression turn to the use of medications as a miracle cure. Medications may lift their moods through the enhancement of neurotransmitters, but they do not get to the root of the problem -- which is the mind. It is always mind over matter.
To sum up, do not analyze or explain whatever that happens in your life. Just learn to let go. Yes, letting go is the answer to the confusion of a depressive mind. Those suffering from mental depression must have undergone some traumatic experiences that triggered their mental depression. Depression does not just happen to any individual without a reason. It is the inability to let go of the past that perpetuates the recurrence of depressive thoughts. Medications can suppress these symptoms, but they do not remove them for good.
Now, the burning question: how to let go?
Letting go is easier said than done. Your conscious mind might have relinquished all depressive thoughts of past experiences, but your subconscious mind may still be clinging on to them like leech. The only way to access your subconscious mind is through meditation, which can give not only clarity of mind, but also the perception of priorities in life. Once your mind is clear, and you see the top priorities in your life, you will begin to look at everything in perspective. Knowing what is the most important and the least important may help you let go. Through meditation, you can conduct internal dialogues, which are affirmations, with your subconscious mind, thereby instrumental in changing your conscious mind. Your subconscious mind can influence your conscious mind to let go.
Once the mind becomes uncluttered, depressive thoughts may dissipate. If you wish to heal your depression, you need to heal your mind first. It is always mind over matter.
Copyright (c) 2010 Stephen Lau

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