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Dealing With Your Depression – Column II

In this SERIES of monthly COLUMNS Dr. Stephen will help you:
• Find out more about your depressed mood
• Name that tune: A description of depressive and mood disorders
• Change your depressed mood through action
• Decide if you need medication

Depression has been called by many names over the span of human existence.

“D” words win with the most entries…which seems only fair—Despondency
Despair Disconsolate Dispirited Doleful Downbeat Downcast Downhearted
Dejected Down in the Dumps Desolate

“B” words have a nice bluesy feeling—Blahs Blues Blue devils Blue funk

“M” words are found in classical literature—Melancholic (big with the
ancient Greeks) Moody Miserable Moping Mournful Mirthless (very

How about the “L” words for classy—Lachrymose (now doesn\’t that sound classier than tearful) Low-spirited Lugubrious

Even the “S” words have a certain ring—Sad Somber Sorrowful

The “W” words sum it up—Wistful Woeful Woebegone.

You may think that you are suffering from depression, but you still
have some questions about whether the shoe is a perfect fit. And we do
know now important it is to us ladies to have a perfect fit!

Figuring out if it\’s Major (or Clinical) Depression or a Reactive Depression.
You may have heard depression being referred to as Major
Depression or Clinical Depression. Health care providers use these two
terms interchangeably.

You are more likely to be suffering from Major or Clinical Depression if:
• You suffer from MOST of the symptoms listed in the Depression Checklist (see Column One)
• You have sleep disruption and appetite loss
• Your have noticed these symptoms DAILY for several weeks or months
• Your symptoms appear WITHOUT immediate cause
• Your daily functioning is severely impaired

You are more likely to be suffering from a Reactive Depression if:
• You have only a FEW of the symptoms listed in the Depression Checklist
• Your sleep and appetite are only slightly irregular
• Your have good days with normal mood mixed in with bad days with depressed mood
• Your symptoms occur primarily when upsetting things are happening
• Your daily functioning is only moderately impaired

AND there are yet others types of depression:
You are more likely to be suffering from Dysthymia or general unhappiness if:
• You have only depressed mood and feelings of worthlessness
• Your sleep and appetite are normal
• You\’ve felt this way on and off throughout most of your life
• Your symptoms do not interfere with daily functioning (you\’re just miserable while you do it!)

You are more likely to be suffering from Abandonment Depression if:
• Your depressed mood is triggered by being rejected, ignored, or abandoned by a loved one
• Your feel as though you\’ve suddenly been dropped into a black hole with no hope of a future
• You experience rage mixed in with your depression
• You have strong urges to harm yourself or others
• Your symptoms completely disappear when you again feel secure in your relationships

Note: Abandonment depression is linked to a condition called Borderline Personality Disorder (a topic for a future column).

Deciding if you have a mood disorder.
When your spells of feeling very down alternate with periods of
feeling extremely up, it is possible that you are suffering from a mood

The most common mood disorder is Bipolar Spectrum Disorder, one variety of which used to be called Manic-Depressive illness.

You might have a Bipolar Spectrum Disorder if you have experiences such as these:
• You feel on top of the world, much more self-confidant than usual
• You are so hyper that you get in trouble
• You are so irritable that you start fights
• You get much less sleep than usual but don\’t really miss it
• You can\’t control how loud or fast or how much you talk
• Your thoughts are racing and jumbled and jump from topic to topic
• You have much more energy than usual and behave like you can\’t be stopped
• You are much more social than usual—calling friends at three in the morning
• You are much more interested in sex than usual—and forgetting to practice safe sex
• You have ideas or make plans which other people think are foolish, risky, or excessive
• You go on spending sprees that damage your financial situation

You may experience the up-mood or mania for several days at a time,
even for weeks or months at a time. When the up-mood is over, you
plummet into a down-mood or depression that feels like a bottomless pit.

If you\’ve had full-blown manic episodes, even just a few, where you\’ve
been hospitalized, ended up in jail, had delusions or hallucinations,
didn\’t sleep at all for days on end, or needed to be dragged in by
family for psychiatric care—then you are suffering from a Type-I
Bipolar Disorder.

You could be at high risk if you suffer from Type-I Bipolar Disorder because:
• You may refuse treatment or blame others for your problems
• You may not use good judgment in daily decisions
• You may engage in high risk behaviors such as promiscuity
• You may hear voices or have delusions

Of course, at the point when you are at highest risk, you are unlikely
to be reading this Column. But if you think you might have Type-I
Bipolar Disorder, getting professional help NOW could keep you from
becoming at risk in the future. You will need to be willing to take
medication to get help for this disorder.

When mania occurs to a lesser degree, it is called hypomania. For
example, you feel hyper but you don\’t get into trouble, you sleep at
least a few hours a night, and you don\’t go out and buy a yacht. This
is Type-II Bipolar Disorder. You still may have to take medication to
see consistent improvement.

You may very well have had experiences that indicate that you suffer
from a mood disorder and yet have never received proper treatment. This
is not unusual. It typically takes seven to ten years of cycling mood
before most people with mood disorders obtain a correct diagnosis. You
and your family have simply weathered the storms. However, considering
treatment at this stage of life could improve the quality of your life.

The treatment of choice for mood disorders most often involves
medication. You need to see a psychiatrist for this medication, not
your general practitioner.

family member, a friend, your physician, your pastor, or to the nearest
hospital emergency room and TELL THEM YOU NEED HELP. Don\’t have the
energy to do even that? Call 911 or one of these numbers:

1-800-SUICIDE or 1-800-784-2433
1-800-273-TALK or 1-800-273-8255
For a Suicide Hotline in your state: www.suicidehotlines.com

NEXT IN THE SERIES: Change your depressed mood through action..

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