Learning to Live With Reoccurring Depression

I was officially diagnosed with depression in 1989. At the time, I was working for Charter Hospital in marketing. Although I had been in addiction recovery for 13 years, I had been experiencing clinical depression for over two years.

This week I had to change medications for cholesterol. I changed by stopping taking it, because I had negative reactions to it. Stopping the medication must have interfered with my anti-depressant because I have had depression for the 3rd day now. Today is my birthday so I will be going about my life carrying on as usual. But when you live with depression, you know it may return on occasions.

I treated myself to a quart of strawberries yesterday because fruit, water, and moderate exercise are the three things that help me the most these periods of discontent. I know I have a chemical imbalance and am also genetically predisposed to depression. So I am going to begin writing about it every week.

I am what the medical profession now calls co occurring. It used to be called dual diagnosis because I have 2 disorders—alcoholism and depression. The co occurring label indicates that other medical disorders may also be present. I am lucky. I just have the two.

But depression has defined my life. Although I have had 8 careers, I never really excelled in any of them. I know now that I was always holding something back in order to be able to deal with the demons.

I hate those first feelings of hopelessness. Then the thoughts of worthlessness. Then the will I never be rid of this. I have a very strong feeling that this torment will be with me until the end.

Depression affects 1 out of every 4 Americans. But most episodes are short-lived. Mine is reoccurring and is probably MDD—Major Depression Disorder. I have have all the symptoms.

From Breaking the Cycles: “Mental Illness-What You Need to Know”:

The Significant Statistics Related to Mental Illness

  • An estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older — about one in four adults — suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. When applied to the 2004 U.S. Census residential population estimate for ages 18 and older, this figure translates to 57.7 million people. (National Institute of Mental Health) This makes it more common than cancer or diabetes.
  • In 2006, 33,300 (approximately 11 per 100,000) people died by suicide in the U.S. More than 90 percent of people who die by suicide have a diagnosable mental disorder, most commonly a depressive disorder or a substance abuse disorder. (National Institute of Mental Health)
  • Mental illness is one of the five key risk factors for developing a substance abuse problem and/or addiction. Not only that but substance abuse can lead to mental illness. As for the related statistics: 1) 37% of alcohol abusers and 53% of drug abusers have at least one serious mental illness, and 2) of all people diagnosed as mentally ill, 29% abuse either alcohol or drugs. (NAMI)
  • Mental illness and substance abuse share common developmental risk factors. (NIDA)

Major Depressive Disorder :

From themedicaldictionary: Major depressive disorder, also called major depression, is characterized by a combination of symptoms that interfere with a person’s ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy once–pleasurable activities. Major depression is disabling and prevents a person from functioning normally. An episode of major depression may occur only once in a person’s lifetime, but more often, it recurs throughout a person’s life.

If you wonder if you are depressed, take a simple test. Most depression is self-reported so don’t wait for someone else to diagnose you. Go to your doctor—any doctor can prescribe medication for you. It will take 4-6 weeks to be effective. So begin now to find an easier way of living with depression.

Photo credit.

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