Depression: Common NOT Normal

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Q. What causes clinical depression?
A. Chemical imbalance.

Surprised by the simplicity of the answer? Were you expecting a list of things like: death of a loved one, change of circumstances, lack of resources, inability to participate in previously enjoyable activities, illness, and so forth? Certainly, a feeling of sadness or (more severely) depression could be common after any of those items, but would it be necessary? No. You could be ill but not sad. You could even have terminal illness and not be sad. Perhaps it changes your entire outlook on living and you relish each hour, doing new and profoundly significant things you’d never attempted before. The perception that sadness and depression, are caused by these events are just plain wrong. Is it common for people to feel sad in the face of that stuff? Yes. But is is normal? No. Depression is not normal, especially clinical depression, or diagnosable depression. However, according to the Mental Health Association, 43% of people think depression is normal. They’re wrong. Let’s educate those 43% to the truth.

If you get nothing else out of this, understand that: While a clinical-grade depression after a precipitating event can be considered common, it is not ever considered normal.

Okay, so now everyone who’s depressed is abnormal? No, of course not. But the depression itself, as a severe reaction (severe enough to be considered diagnosable, to be more than “sad”), is abnormal, yes.

Depression is caused by chemical imbalance. When a person reacts to stressors, there is an increase in cortical fluid. This increase effects the entire body. It can cause an increase in cholesterol, an increase in heart rate and respiration, an increase in blood pressure, a thickening of the blood, and so forth in persons with medical conditions or medical predispositions. This is your perfectly normal person, now with possibly blood pressure and cholesterol issues, and a general crummy feeling from the cortisone, just because of stress. This is why managing daily stress is important. The brain is a part of the body and as such needs to be treated appropriately and medically at times.

What happens in the body of a person with medical conditions?

  • A person who has a heart attack and is given a good prognosis and sent home will be 3-4% more likely to die in 6 months if they also have clinical depression.
  • A person who has a stroke can have personality changes if they also have depression at the time of the stroke.
  • A stroke victim who also has depression generally takes 10 extra months in rehabilitation (closer to a year, than the non-depressed person who takes an average of 2 months to rehabilitate).
  • Some medications, like cancer medications can cause the kind of cortical imbalance that leads to depression. Extra caution must be taken with these patients.
  • Similarly, diabetes causes changes in the body that can cause clinical depression, and vice versa. Depressed people are more likely to develop the lifelong diagnosis of diabetes, and all the lifestyle changes that come with it.
  • Dementia may be over-diagnosed in the elderly because there is a such thing as delusional depression, and it may be under-diagnosed as a result of dementia diagnoses.
  • People with Parkinson’s Disorder are more likely to have increased problems with movement and decreased concentration or ability to make decisions if they also have clinical depression.
  • People with clinical depression are more likely to have comorbid back ache and gastrointestinal problems, which may or may not be psychosomatic.
  • Fibromyalgia shares the same symptoms and treatments as clinical depression.

Q. Okay, so what can I do with this information?
A. Manage your daily stress in ways that keep your cortical levels…level.

  • Exercise daily; even a 10-minute walk helps.
  • Do something fun; again, 10 minutes of a puzzle book or reading or talking to a friend on the phone or petting an animal.
  • Eat well with lots of fresh foods like veggies and fruits and limit the junky stuff.
  • Sleep properly on a steady routine.
  • Work toward goals; even little stuff like learning something new or finishing up a project. Looking forward has tremendous effects whereas looking behind you generally is detrimental.
  • Connect with something beyond yourself, whether that’s spirituality, religion, or community involvement through volunteer work.
  • Seek help. If you need help getting/staying on track, I can do that. If you need help reaching out, I’m happy to do that with you, hooking you up with volunteer organizations, and so forth. If you want to correct any sadness that you’re having, we can get that done, too; quickly and painlessly!
  • If you see someone who seems to have some sadness or depressive symptoms, refer them for help and a good daily regiment to keep their cortical levels in tact. You may just be saving a life.

Which of these tips did you find most practical for you life?

Autumn Hahn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist practicing at Clear Mind Group in Weston, Florida. Call 954-612-9553 for a consultation. Follow Autumn on Facebook and Twitter. Sign up for the e-newsletter HERE.

Minimizing Holiday Stress

bigstock-Christmas-Seamless-Pattern-Wit-24446030Shopping for the holidays puts many people under additional stress: from spending money they don’t have, to long wish lists from kids or family members, to the time it takes to fulfill these desires-turned-demands.

My first suggestion is to trim your gift-giving list. In our family, we went from buying presents for 15 people to just the kids, which was initially 4, and grew to be 6, but is still much more reasonable. Also, my husband and I don’t exchange gifts as we take a trip for our anniversary the next month, and his birthday is right around Christmas, so he gets a birthday gift, which is usually an experience (comedy club, weekend trip, performing arts event).

To trim things even further, use The Rule of 4. Continue reading “Minimizing Holiday Stress”

Not Mine- Reframing Technique

0notWe cannot control others. You’ve heard this. The good news is: we don’t have to! We need only control our response to others, which is totally doable.

There are always going to be people cutting us off in traffic, people talking down to us, people undervaluing our work, and those who don’t believe in us. We need not give them any more of our attention than the bare minimum, but we need to categorize their words and actions as “theirs” and “not mine.” Continue reading “Not Mine- Reframing Technique”

Holiday Stress by Tara Dickherber, LPC

0taThis week’s blog comes directly from Tara Dickherber, LPC, an amazing RRT® therapist in St. Charles, MO. This article was originally posted in the Women’s Power Networking blog on November 25, 2013. 

The holidays are full blown upon us. So much I have been forgetting to post here on my little blog…

Let me begin with I hope your holidays are wonderful- filled with smiles and laughter!

Let’s get real though, holidays tend to be slightly if not full blown stressful. How about some suggestions for managing that?

  1. Schedule time for yourself FIRST!! We are all different in the down time we require, but we all require some down time. Schedule that FIRST before anything else. Schedule time to just read, crochet, meditate, what ever your down time requires.
  2. Set a limit on your budget and stick to it as best you can. Believe me I get it. I have one child and I’d LOVE to spend tons of money on her this time of year; and her birthday falls in the realm of the holidays as well. I limit it though. We also have a set amount of what we spend on others and we stick to that as best we can too. (Yes I’m human, yes I break the rules sometimes too. It’s OK! Just stay out of bankruptcy when it comes to presents!!!)
  3. This is a tad too late but one thing find that eliminates most of my holiday stress is getting the present shopping done EARLY. Yep my shopping is 95% done by November. I grab things as they go on sale and as I find them through out the year. You will NEVER catch me shopping on Black Friday. That’s land me on some serious psychiatric medications. I know it’s a fun thing for some but not me.
  4. If there are some toxic relatives or friends that you will be around during the holidays limit your time with them. Keep conversations short and sweet. Keep actual face to face time short and sweet. Sometimes that means just move to another room and hang with someone else, sometimes that means shorten your time actually there.
  5. As crazy as you may think this is…lower your expectations. Due to society, the media what ever we have this idea that the holidays are supposed to be perfect and amazing. Get real! We are spending holidays with people who have their own issues and those issues come right out when around others and let’s be real here many holidays come with alcohol. Alcohol doesn’t help either. Did you ever see that skit from Mad TV’s “Lowered Expectations?”
  6. Watch what you eat and get some exercise. Seriously!! Food greatly effects our moods. And exercise creates endorphins. Endorphins make us feel better. Exercise relieves stress, less stress more tolerance for stress….it’s a win win. I possibly exercise more during the holidays than any other time. I get out and walk, if I’m out of town and there’s an in-door pool at the hotel I swim laps. I get my kiddo out with me too.
  7. That being said get outside if it’s possible!! Pet your pets. Take the dog for a walk….

There ya go…some things to ponder.

So Be Well, be Joyful!
Tara S. Dickherber, LPC

Contact Tara for a consultation at 573-754-0348. Read more at her Blog and follow her on Facebook.

Autumn Hahn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist practicing at Clear Mind Group in Weston, Florida. Call 954-612-9553 for a consultation. Follow Autumn on TwitterFacebook, and Google+. Sign up for the e-newsletter HERE.

Continue reading “Holiday Stress by Tara Dickherber, LPC”

Nothing is Important

0imWhen we make something important we attach meaning and value to it. Often, this leads to problems. Let’s say you feel it is important to work on your thesis, to exercise, or to spend time with your kids. What if that doesn’t happen today? What if you get bogged down with other stuff and it just gets missed? In steps guilt. Guilt is how primitive mind communicates “hurry up and do that now” even when there’s a timing glitch of “there’s nothing to do because that time has passed.”

So the next day,you assign even more importance to the thing. You say “today will be different because I really need to do…” whatever it was. So today comes and you spend energy thinking about that important thing. You think about doing it, but you don’t do it.

Do you know why you didn’t do it? You got blocked. Mind blocked the action because it seemed so important that it attached a value of danger. Continue reading “Nothing is Important”