The Dark at the End of the Tunnel . . . A National and Personal Dilemma
More than twenty million Americans are suffering from depression severe enough to need help. Feelings of depression are often related to an event or series of events in one's life.
Divorce, the death of a loved one, the loss of a friendship, or failing to achieve an important goal will sometimes trigger a bout of depression that may linger for an extended period of time. This is especially true if the person feels a sense of guilt, shame, resentment, or betrayal due to what has occurred. Fortunately, there are things we can do to resolve depressed feelings and to improve our outlook on life. Nearly all depression responds to healthy choices and professional intervention.
Skilled therapists work with depressed individuals to:
- resolve problems that contribute to depression.
- identify thinking patterns that contribute to depressed feelings.
- suggest ways to improve relationships with other people.
- help depressed people to regain a sense of control and pleasure.
- set realistic goals and identify options for the future.
- help depressed people to bring enjoyable activities back into their lives.
TO BE WORTH LIVING, life needs meaning and value. Otherwise we feel chronic emptiness and a sense of despair. To overcome depression, we must search to find reasons for living. This can lead to an increased awareness of our worth and potential. We can find answers to the anxieties and frustrations that cause us to see nothing but the "dark at the end of the tunnel."
Symptoms of Depression Include:
- Persistent sad or "empty" mood
- Loss of interest or pleasure in ordinary activities, including sex
- Decreased energy, fatigue, being "slowed down"
- Sleep disturbances (insomnia or oversleeping)
- Eating disturbances (loss of appetite and weight, or weight gain)
- Excessive crying
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
- Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
- Aches and pains that don't respond to treatment
- Thoughts of death or suicide, suicide attempts
Unlocking the door . . .
Family or marital therapy may help individuals affected by depression to learn effective ways to live together. Therapy can also provide an opportunity for individuals who have never experienced depression to learn more about it and to identify constructive ways to support a loved one who is suffering from depression.
Are medications useful for treating depression?
Medications can be very helpful for reducing the symptoms of depression. Many health care providers treating depression favor using a combination of therapy and medication.