Otumdi Omekara, MD., MPAHA - Member of Society of Physician Entrepreneurs
The average person in the United States has a one in seven chance of suffering a major depression during his or her lifetime (NIMH). Anybody can come down with mood depression with or without warning at any time. All it takes is a sudden major personal loss of something valuable, be it a spouse, a child, a sibling, a close friend, job, business, or property. About 33 per cent of bereaved people may also be depressed one month after the loss, and up to 15 per cent may remain depressed one year after the loss.
The immediate reaction to such acute loss, disappointment, or traumatic stress is called a normal acute grief reaction. According to Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, stage one of this reaction is denial; stage two is anger; stage three is bargaining; stage four is depression; while stage 5 is acceptance. The most critical stage of acute grief reaction is the depression stage. If one gets stagnated at this stage, a major depression could set in without being noticed.
The normal adaptive behavior of a bereaved person, for instance, is to be sad, sob at length, lose appetite, lose sleep, and still be willing to talk about the circumstances surrounding the loss of his/her spouse. When the person becomes too preoccupied with guilt feelings about the sad event to move on to the acceptance stage that is the first indication that a major depression might be setting in. But by definition a diagnosis of major depression can only be made after two weeks following the trigger event.
There must be depressed mood or severely diminished interest in or pleasure from previously pleasurable activities. In addition, there has to be at least four out of the following seven symptoms: 1) 5% change in body weight in one month or significant appetite change with weight loss, 2) lack of sleep or excessive sleep, 3) fatigue or loss of energy, 4) Reduced or excessive physical activity, 5) Impaired thinking, concentration, or decision-making, 6) diminished self-esteem with feeling of worthlessness and undue guilt, and 7) repeated thoughts of death and suicide.
Moderate exercise, supportive relationships, and positive life experiences are all useful in depression as in other illnesses, if only the depressed person can muster the courage to get them started. This is why the proactive anti-depressive lifestyle is preferable. It targets the core symptoms of major depression. It prepares the individual to see that self worth does not have to depend entirely on any single aspect of life. It exposes the person to similar occurrences in that past despite adequate provisions, which takes away the guilt feelings. It enables the person to understand the normal time frame of four to six weeks for normal grief. It also teaches the person to make advance decisions should they find they become grief-stricken. It restores hope by exposing people to survivors of catastrophic events.
The first benefit of an anti-depressive mindset is that it takes out the surprise element from the sad events that trigger acute grief reactions. In essence it puts a person in the mindset of always being prepared for the unexpected or for the worst. To develop this mindset the person will deliberately flood his/her mind with thoughts of very ugly events that could happen to anyone, and figure out what he/she might do under those circumstances. The natural approach to this “what if” style of thinking is to try to empathize with people close to us when they experience the never expected losses or disappointments that put them into grief.
The second benefit of this mindset is that it encourages an individual to talk openly about similar sad events and how they were resolved with grieving people. It might just be a matter of sharing one’s knowledge of some the symptoms of depression manifested by other bereaved people in the past and how quickly they got resolved..
The third benefit is that it encourages people to research the available resources for treating depression in the community even when they are not depressed. An easy place to start would be during a visit to a primary care physician for routine medical examination. Where possible, a visit to a psychotherapist just to see exactly what they do for depressed patients and what symptoms would warrant a consult, could be very helpful. This is particularly important because a chronically moody people hardly knows when to talk to a friend, a doctor or a therapist about it.
The fourth benefit is that it gives people reason to stay socially connected with people who share similar concerns or interest, know them by their first names, and are ready to telephone them or knock on their doors when they go off the radar. It is very easy nowadays to go online or page through church directories and find a group that shares the same concern about how to prepare for unexpected personal losses of life. It might not be totally out of place to attend group meetings for the unemployed, divorced, handicapped, cancer survivors, blind, etc. Seeing how members of these different groups are coping with their circumstances, quietly prepares an individual to face similar situations should they come their way.
The fifth benefit of ant-depressive mindset is that it gets people interested in the various medications advertised in the electronic and print media for the treatment of depression. The share number of brand name drugs alone begins to suggest that depression is a treatable disease. Once a depressed person comes to term with the fact that depression is a treatable illness, seeking help for it becomes a lot easier. Most cases of major depression that present early for diagnosis and treatment usually get resolved in about six months. See more of similar articles and product recommendations .