Beliefnet
Doing Life Together

This week, Janet Parshall had me on her radio show, In The Market, to talk about a topic the church and society have  a great deal of trouble discussing–depression. The phone lines were constantly lit up. People wanted and needed to talk. Emails were sent asking for help. With  1 out of 10 people struggling with depression, we need to keep talking about it.

The news of the recent suicides of Robin Williams and GRL lead singer, Simone Battle, brings depression into our daily conversations. Yet, most people are unaware of the many causes of depression. It is a complicated disorder that requires on-going attention and treatment.

Depression can be a result of other medical conditions such as hypothyroidism, Cushing’s, heart disease, sleep apnea, strokes, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, hormonal imbalances, HIV and AIDS, cancer, autoimmune disorders , seizure disorders and chronic pain.

Depression is also associated with substance abuse and withdrawal from long- term use of many drugs like cocaine, sedatives, narcotics and steroids.

It is more common in people with a family history of mental illness, suggesting genetic involvement and inheirted traits. And people with depression have biological changes in their brains. Brain chemicals go out of balance and hormone changes can create depressive symptoms.

Traumatic life events such as childhood trauma, death, loss, financial pressures and stress that strains a person’s ability to cope all play a role as well. Certain personality traits make a person more susceptible to depression. Medication side-effects can cause depression.  For example, a common medication like Accutane used to treat acne has a side effect of depression in some people.

And while the causes of depression are complicated, treatment is available and effective. We know the signs–difficulty concentrating, fatigue, feelings of hopelessness, guilt, worthlessness, helplessness, insomnia or excessive sleeping, loss of pleasure, overeating or appetite changes, sad, anxious or empty feelings, and thoughts of suicide.

If you struggle, don’t do so in silence. Tell your physician or a mental health professional and get the help you need.

And because so many people are affected by depression, let’s keep talking even when a celebrity isn’t in the news. People’s lives may depend on it.

 

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