Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Depression for Dummies :)

“This is my depressed stance. When you’re depressed, it makes a lot of difference how you stand. The worst thing you can do is straighten up and hold your head high because then you’ll start to feel better. If you’re going to get any joy out of being depressed, you’ve got to stand like this.” -Charlie Brown (Peanuts)

Sunday night we went to a fireside where Soren Koldewyn, a therapist, spoke to ward council members. One goal was learning how to determine when someone needs professional help. Or, when someone’s mental health issues are beyond the scope of church leaders or priesthood blessings, etc.

Brother Koldewyn addressed anxiety, stress, and addiction but the main discussion circled around the many faceted topic of depression.

Depression is always a loaded subject for a myriad of reasons. First, everyone knows someone (perhaps them) who suffers from depression. So, their exposure and personal experience will certainly influence the conclusions they draw about depression.

Plus, depression has so many guises and forms that distinguishing situational depression from chronic depression or clinical depression can be a real minefield.

Symptoms also run the gamut. While one person has a loss of appetite, another will overeat. Signs can be tricky since some people follow a textbook example while others might mask or hide signs and some seek and desire attention.

Treatment varies too. Some people respond to talk therapy without needing medication. Others clearly need to be medicated; some sporadically, some forever. Some people will refuse help altogether. Denial is not uncommon.

So, there is nothing very cut and dry about diagnosing or treating depression. It’s a rabbit hole! While getting out on a walk or run might bring some people out of a low period, another person can’t muster up the strength to get themselves out on the run. See the paradox: what someone needs to do to feel better, they sadly, might be incapable of doing.

It’s this complexity to mental health issues that fascinates me. There usually aren’t one size fits all, easy answers. It’s often a lot of trial and error. I probably came away from the fireside with more questions than answers but that’s not a reflection of Brother Koldewyn. His comments were good.

The discussion just gets my mind racing. Oh, thoughts....that could be a sign of depression! But, hopefully, it’s a function of my interest in the subject matter rather than a depressed state of mind. I’ll keep you posted (if I’m functioning, that is). If I’m not, there’s another sign! Three more signs would confirm that I’m officially depressed! Yikes - better go running!

Postscript: If my comments are too light hearted or offensive, I’m sorry. I do understand there is a difference between the Charlie Brown "depressed stance" and depression that requires outside help. I’m just spouting off thoughts (note my blog name “ad nauseam”) but I certainly have no expertise on the subject. So, if I appear glib, I apologize!