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  • Writer's pictureJ.L. Whitehead

Understanding Depression

Two days ago, my husband woke up feeling "blah." Although most of you know what that means, I'll be more than happy to share what you it's true definition. You are disinterested in life in general and home life in particular. Some people call it the blues, others call it being down in the dumps. The outcome is the same. It all revolves around the word, "Depression."

I am prone to bouts of depression for various reasons that I don't have to go into right now. My husband...the most happy-go-lucky man that I know was experiencing depression in its worst form. Its the kind of depression that you can't do anything about. This type of depression comes in the form an invisible cloud that surrounds the person and sits there. I knew that I couldn't pierce through the emotion that had settled over him. He sat on the couch watching show after show with little interest in anything else. I made his favorite dinner with dessert, cleaned up the kitchen so that he wouldn't have to do it and most importantly, made myself available just in case he needed to talk to me. I also made sure to give him his space so that he wouldn't feel as if I was smothering him.

It's a horrible feeling to see your spouse go through something that you don't understand and can't really help him with. I know depression. We're very good friends unfortunately. But my depression is not the same as his. His depression came on unexpectedly, lasted for about a day and then lifted as if it never occurred.

Dealing with your spouses depression can be difficult. You don't know the cause and you may not know what to do. First and foremost, I had to give him his space. I had to go about my business and do what I would normally do around the house. I also had to make sure that I was available if he wanted to talk to me...and then I had to be prepared to listen.

I also realized that I had to dig a little bit deeper to find out how to deal with his depression should it return. I started with finding out the various causes for depression. Here is what I found:

Common Causes for Depression (1):

  • Pre-existing mental health condition

  • Serious illness

  • Sleep disorders

  • Substance abuse and/or addiction (either personally or within the family)

  • Trauma or grief

  • Painful major life experience

  • Gender (women are more than twice as likely as men to report symptoms of depression)

  • Social isolation

  • Low socioeconomic status

  • Medications (certain prescribed or over-the-counter drugs can increase the likelihood of developing depression)

Behavioral Symptoms(1):

  • Isolation

  • Abandonment of friends

  • Loss of interest in issues or activities that were once of great importance

  • Unexplained absences from work

  • Out-of-character emotional outbursts

  • Discussing suicide or desire to disappear

  • Engagement in reckless and dangerous behaviors

Physical symptoms(1):

  • Fatigue, lethargy, or sluggishness

  • Extreme boost in energy levels

  • Drastic change in sleep patterns (can be either insomnia or hypersomnia)

  • Changes in eating habits (either developing a voracious appetite or a loss of appetite)

  • Significant weight gain or weight loss (associated with changes in appetite)

  • Generalized physical problems (stomachaches, joint pain, headaches)

Cognitive symptoms(1):

  • Trouble staying focused on tasks at hand

  • Difficulty solving problems or making decisions

  • Sense of constantly being distracted

  • Heightened irritability; quick to anger

  • Temperament changes

Psychosocial symptoms(1):

  • Hopelessness and helplessness

  • Increased anger or irritability

  • Unexplained feelings of guilt

  • Self-hatred and/or intense self-criticism

  • Desire to isolate oneself

  • Persistent thoughts of death or suicide

  • Unexplainable feelings of panic, anxiety, and/or irritability

Effects of Depression(1):

  • Thoughts of suicide

  • Suicide attempts

  • Exhaustion

  • Poor personal hygiene

  • Poor performance at work

  • Strained or destroyed personal relationships

  • Abuse of alcohol and other drugs

  • Financial difficulties (related to job problems and/or failure to focus, pay bills, etc.)

  • Risky, dangerous, or otherwise desperate behaviors

  • Sense of hopelessness, guilt, and self-hatred

In my husband's instance, for Behavioral Symptoms, he exhibited Isolation. For Physical Symptoms, He showed Fatigue, Sluggishness and Lethargy. All of this confirms that he was depressed. Most of us knows depression when we see it.

We work through our bouts of depression by simply being there for one another. This method may or may not work for you. You have to determine first and foremost the cause for the depression and work from there. It isn't easy. Making the determination of the manifestation of depression is just as hard as identifying the cause. For some, we may never know this.

To find out more detailed information about depression, please click on the link below.

~ J.L. Whitehead


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