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Depression is everybody’s problem

The suicide death of the very talented comedian actor Robin Williams brings to the forefront the all too common problem of depression once again.

The County Medical examiner concluded that apparently suicide was the cause of the death of actor Robin Williams
The County Medical examiner concluded that apparently suicide was the cause of the death of actor Robin WilliamsPhoto by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Robin Williams was depressed and had early stages of Parkinson
Robin Williams was depressed and had early stages of Parkinson Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

We have all seen the many public service announcements by the late Mike Wallace and others who have openly admitted their battle with depression in an effort to shed light on an all too common problem.

With one out of every seven people in the modern world dealing with this very serious mental health issue at some point in their life, there is simply never enough emphasis placed on this condition.

There is so much which can be said about depression and yet the reality is very few people actually attempt to do anything about either their own condition or the condition of a friend or loved one.

Depression is generally defined as, a condition marked by feelings of worthlessness, dejection and worry which is usually accompanied by a state of unhappiness with a pessimistic outlook on life.

The depressed person is susceptible to minor states of frustration, feelings of guilt and even occasional paranoia with a tendency to feel they are either a failure or failure prone.

Basically the depressed person develops low self-esteem and an overall feeling of inadequacy.

In more severe cases, depression may result in suicide such as the apparent case of Robin Williams.

Depression can be brought on by many things including Parkinson disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease.

It has now been stated by Robin William’s wife that he was actually suffering from the early stages of Parkinson which might have contributed to his depression.

As an epileptic, this writer is well aware of the potential of the medication I take as well as the disorder itself that can lead to depression. In fact, my neurologists always ask me on each checkup visit if I am experiencing any depression.

As a child I witnessed the constant depression of my late mother and wanted to know more about the subject which ultimately led to my study of psychology.

Unfortunately, my mother never really recognized she had clinical depression; although it was quite evident to those around her.

For my mother as well as both of my Grandmothers, they simply addressed their problem as being “down in the dumps” or “having the blues”.

Down in the dumps and having the blues doesn't last a life time but genuine clinical depression can; especially left untreated.

It should be noted here, that there is a clear clinical distinction between a person suffering from what is known as a “neurotic depressive reaction” (also known as dysthymia or dysthymic disorder) which might result from a difficult situation or traumatic life event such as a divorce or family member’s death and “psychotic depression”.

Psychotic depression” includes a variety of widely known depressions known as “manic-depression” and “Bipolar disorder” (which today is often included as one depression type).

Persons diagnosed with a psychotic depression usually have a long history of mood swings and depressed episodes accompanied by extreme paranoia, delusions and hallucinations.

Although both forms of depression are treated similarly, most forms of Psychotic depression require long term use of medication, personal and group psychotherapy and often even in-patient hospitalization.

In short, depression should never be ignored.

In contemporary society, there is simply no need for anyone to suffer with the pain of depression or put those around us in pain watching our reactions to difficult and depressed feelings.

With proper psychotherapy and medication most types of depression can be “handled” and most people can live a full, healthy and satisfied life.

Available medication, good doctors, neurologist and psychotherapist are usually the easy part.

The difficult part is helping people understand they have a problem and then leading them to seek out the appropriate solution.

Bear in mind, you cannot push a depressed person; if you do, it can only make their situation worst.

Most men cover up their feelings and as such seldom admit they’re having any kind of an emotional problem.
Even if their Family doctor prescribes some medication and warns the patient one of the side effects can be depression, many men will simply respond by saying, “it’s nothing I can’t deal with”.

Women on the other hand, usually will seek professional help for depression the quickest due to recognizing and understanding their own feelings.

Unlike men, women openly and easily display their feelings and emotions; any change in that normality seen by themselves or their friends and family often sends up a red flag that something is wrong.

As a result a visit to the doctor, therapist or at the least the best friend or hair stylist is sought to talk things out.

Herein is where depression becomes everybody’s problem.

Women realize for the most that “airing out” their feelings or differences helps and often even gives way to a solution or complete healing of the depressed state of mind.

Men on the other hand hold it in and are very good at putting up a facade that there is “nothing wrong”.

Teens too, are often good at hiding their true feelings. Many fear being “singled out” and made fun of for admitting they have a problem, talking about it to friends and family and seeking the professional help they need.

In over thirty years of counseling, the main reason most people came to me ultimately led back to depression.

Their depression escalated other problems such as marriage and family relationships, employment problems, long time friendships and various forms of sexual dysfunction.

Often depression can affect health problems such as appetite, weight gain or loss, hair loss, visual problems and much more.

Many times it is necessary for a psychologist to refer a patient back to their family doctor in order to eliminate a possible physical problem.

Again, depression is such a huge problem that it is everybody’s problem; it is a personal problem, and your friends’ and family’s problem.

It is your church and pastor’s problem and it is your family doctor and psychotherapist’s problem.

It takes each of us to either recognize our own depression or that of our friends, family and co-workers.

Depression is indeed everybody’s business and my next Christian Counseling article will look at its many warning signs and ways we can encourage each other to seek the help we need.

Stay positive and remember, you're not alone.

© 2014 Dr. Lee W. Outlaw III