Mental Health: Doctor Can Check to See if You Have Clinical Depression

We’ve all been there at one time or another: The Black Hole, in which stress is pervasive and peace, elusive. The healthy human experience will encompass struggles and victories, anger and tenderness, bitter disappointment and exuberant laughter. We will know loss, perhaps the end of a marriage we thought would last a lifetime, or of a career from which we derived self-esteem. We may lose a cherished home, our health, daily dinners with our children.

Clinical depression, (a.k.a. Major or Unipolar Depression) can be a devastatingly lonely, confusing place. Describing his own paralyzing depression, Dick Cavett explained, “When you’ve got it, if there were a magic wand across the room that would make you happy and give you everything you want — it would be too much trouble to cross the room and pick it up.”

The desolation of depression seems insurmountable at times but there are new insights into what depressive illness is, and is not. Remember that clinical depression is a medical condition, not a bad mood or attitude problem, and medical professionals may address it in a variety of ways. The isolation of depression creates stress for the person engulfed by it, as well as loved ones who wish they could make it better. With skilled health care, compassionate friend, with the resilience of the human spirit and a tincture of time, somehow we will smile again. We will know joy.

We’ll want to try that new restaurant, or paint a room. First, the shadows part, a little light streams through, and we begin to surface. Where do you start? Some medical conditions, medications and food sensitivities can mimic depression, so schedule a check-up to reassure yourself or to address anything that needs attention.

If you are one of millions living with depression, it is essential to establish a comforting, ongoing relationship with a mental health professional you like and trust. Together you can determine how best to proceed. Antidepressant medication is not appropriate for everyone but in some cases, a physician may prescribe one short-term to be monitored closely.

There are many new insights into genetic and biochemical factors, including sugar and other food sensitivities that impact depression. Many find tremendous benefit from healthy nutrition, creative expression, mindful breathing, bodywork, time with friends, meditation, relaxation tapes and moderate daily exercise, (remember endorphins?).

Simple soothers to chase the blues

1. Take a brisk walk, varying your route and find things that make you laugh along the way.

2. Take a course: Try Tai Chi, cooking, bridge, watercolors or dance.

3. Get a free makeover in a department store.

4. Tense day? Pop in some oldies and sing really loud!Rent a movie you’d never normally pick.

5. Adopt a pet.

6. Plan a trip.

7. Schedule a massage, reflexology, reiki or change your hair.

Always err on the side of caution: If danger of hurting oneself is ever a concern, get to an emergency room immediately for support. While gloomy feelings are not uncommon following separation or divorce, thoughts of injury should be addressed professionally and promptly. There’s just too much to life out there to live to ever, ever risk injury. As the adage goes, “Never give up an hour before the miracle.”