Dieting with Obstacles - Depression is a SYMPTOM not an illness




mollymom
09-05-2008, 11:47 PM
I am watching "Change your brain, Change your life" with Dr. Daniel G. Amen, on PBS. He was talking about depression and he made a couple of statements that I really sat up and listened to. They are:

Depression is a symptom not an illness!

Wow, for me that was a profound statement, and I have been really thinking about it. I think he is right. Depression is the result of outside factors that affect the brain and the body in a negative way. I am very able to identify the factors that lead to, and continue to feed my depression.

type A personality
low self-esteem
car accident that I shouldn't have survived but did
seemingly unmanageable job stress
multiple surgeries in five years
dad dead of cancer (deceased)
three years of caring for increasingly "demented" mother (deceased)
several unrequested job placement changes with a huge learning curve for each, in a short span of years
difficult and abusive relationship (ended)
fibromyalgia with related cognitive impairment
child with ADD, and adult with same, combined with the "fibrofog" which makes finding my car keys a new stressor every single day no matter how many solutions I try to remember to use
a Canadian that hates winter and for whom winter is a six month ordeal to be survived not enjoyed



I am sure there are more, but man, isn't that a list that says WOW you deserve a little period of depression LOL Not only that, I can see how my list also lead to a sleep disorder due to stress, which then contributed to a diagnosis of chronic pain/fibromyalgia.

I have been very impressed with what he has said so far, including the second statement:

"You don't have to believe everything you think!"

This is a skill that I have been working on for several months. I know I am very hard on myself and some of the things I think aren't really realistic NOR even TRUE! I have come to realize that over these past few years I have become a very negative person...and I used to be pretty optimistic. Lately, not only is my glass half-empty, it is empty, in fact it wasn't full in the first place. I have caught myself several times in the last week, in my job, thinking thoughts that when I managed to "stand back and consider their validity", I was able to talk back to them ( another technique Dr. Amen talked about) and get things back in perspective.

He talks about ANTS - Automatic Negative Thoughts. Boy do I have those. Presented with the least little challenge I feel I have little resources or strength to face them. I have to learn to squish those ANTS.

I was wondering what thoughts people with depression or GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) have on these two statements. I hope some people find this thread, because I think those two statements have given me a couple of huge concepts to consider...both of which are a challenge to my current thinking and reacting!

BTW I was wondering if responders with fibro or depression would be willing to share if they drink or smoke...no matter how bad we KNOW it is. Also interesting aside...nicotine has a pain-negating factor...that was a revelation to me as well. Personally I would much prefer medical marijuana! :P


Justwant2Bhealthy
09-06-2008, 01:39 AM
HI MOLLYMOM ~ I am a trained counsellor and I find these statements to be very interesting and true! However, I might like to expand on the first one and say that he is referring to what we always called "SITUATIONAL or CIRCUMSTANTIAL" depression; that is, depression that was mostly caused by some outside stressor in one's life.

It is good that you can identify all these stressors because now you can work on changing as many as you can to improve your quality of life. I do also believe that there are some people who have a physical-based depression: meaning some chemical imbalance in their brains which can cause melancholy, depression, and other symptoms like delusions (ie as for bipolar and schizophrenia). Any depression that lasts longer than three months is something that needs to be looked at (called clinical depression in some circles) regardless of the cause; and once you can pinpoint the causal factors, you can get started on your road to recovery.

And there are many more situational causes like divorce, moving, job loss, financial problems, losing your home, illness, losing a loved one (esp a child), giving birth (emotional) & post-partum depression (physical), all kinds of abuse in childhood and as adults (verbal, physical and sexual), job stressors or abuses like a difficult boss, and other traumas (being robbed or attacked), etc ... there are so many, aren't there?

As for the second statement; many people live by their feelings and emotions and this causes them problems. They need to ask themselves if how they are 'feeling' is based on reality and truth, or just an impression. The problem here is that feelings and emotions can go all over the place and then we can misjudge a situation or something someone says or does. Often people will say something and mean no harm at all, but someone who is sensitive to something, will take offence to it.

The best thing to do, is deal with it right away by asking that person and clearing the air. I like your TALK-BACK method; it works for a lot of people. I like the one that says "CANCEL, CANCEL ... that isn't correct; or I don't think that is true; or I don't believe that". Then ... distract yourself with some "POSITIVE FEEDBACK". Say that you are putting yourself down: come back with one of your many good qualities. It takes practice, but over time ~ the good thoughts will drown out the "NEGGIES" as I call them.

I'm not surprised to hear that cigarettes relieve pain; I have also heard that they work like a mild tranquilizer and calm some people's nerves, so that may be why they feel jittery if and when they try to quit. I guess the same could be said for alchohol for many people. I am sure many people self-medicate with alcohol to ward off depression and the stresses in their lives. I know people who have told me they have a 'wee nip' to help them sleep and/or calm their nerves. That was the purpose of HOT TODDIES at one time.

You have had a lot of stressors in your life in the last while. Personally, I find that my faith (reading and reciting positive scriptures), music, singing, journaling, reading and writing poetry, birding, gardening, and meditating all help me when I am dealing with major stressors in my life. I hope that you continue to find ways to keep on a positive path back to balance, good health, and wellness ... :hug:ROSEBUD:hug:

PS ~ be careful what activities you engage in for entertainment: one fellow I know was having terrible nightmares and haunting negative thoughts, but then he immediately confessed that he was reading and watching grotesquely negative books and movies: what can I say but ... garbage in; garbage out! If you fill your mind with negative stuff, you'll get depressed; but if you fill your life with beauty and love and peace, that's what kind of thoughts you'll have too! You choose ...

PhotoChick
09-06-2008, 02:16 AM
I'm sorry, but I have to strongly and vocally disagree with this statement.

There are times that depression can be a symptom. Absolutely, 100%. I've been situationally depressed before - not because I suffer from the disease, but because of actions and situations in my own life that have created stress and my body/mind has responded.

But there are types of depression that ARE illnesses. Some types of depression are caused by chemical imbalances in the brain and are as much an illness as diabetes or thyroid deficiency or any other disease that is caused by a malfunction of bodily systems.

My husband suffers from chronic, clinical depression and I promise you it is not a "symptom" of anything. It is a disease that he alleviates by taking meds for it, just as a diabetic might take insulin.

I'm glad that the statement resonated with you in such a way as to help you. If YOUR depression is situational and you are able to work through it and use that knowledge to help you move forward, I think that's awesome. Truly and honestly. Depression is nothing fun to deal with, ever.

But please consider that it is demeaning and dismissive of those who suffer from the real DISEASE called Depression to issue that blanket statement and not think about the thousands of other people who do deal with this disease every day of their lives.

..


mollymom
09-06-2008, 02:17 AM
I have tried to do a timeline to determine if my depression a clinical chemical imbalance depression, or a situational depression that has extended beyond three months, due to the fact that no sooner did one "situation" get resolved, another reared up to take its place. I decided I am definitely a serial situational depressive. Is there such a thing as "Serial Situational Depression"...oh cool SSD I have invented a new acronym..put me in the medical/psychiatric journals adn get me on Oprah!

In the movie" Ghost", when the "bad people" died, black demons rose up from the ground and surrounded and tormented them. Sometimes I feel just like that...that I am surrounded by black spirits that pick and poke and jab at me. I feel that too many people need too much from me too often...and that is definitely a job-related statement. AND... don't tell me to go and get a new job. I have invested 24 years, two degrees, multiple additional qualifications and personal study and materials, and too much blood sweat and tears to walk away and lose my EXPENSIVE DEDUCTIONS pension, for which I qualify on Oct. 21, 2013 (but who is counting)

In some ways I love my job, but it has become so demanding I feel like the very life is being torn from me as I try to fulfill my role of being too many things to too many people in far too little time. I am back after two years of disability (medical and psychological) leave during which I tried to develop coping skills and stress management techniques (btw the psychologist they sent me to was a joke..I could help people more for far less than 210$ and hour!) , recovering mentally and physically...not only the mental stress but the physical of yet another major surgery which has corrected a problem but not the chronic pain.

No matter how much I try to tell myself that I am in a "no win" situation..that no student is going to get the time that they need, that no parent will be satisfied, that I have no time to meet all of the expectations and nor can I come up with sixteen differentiated curriculums and materials for the classroom teachers, and that now that I know that, I should be able to accept that and just do what I can, leave when they stop paying me, and get on with my life outside work. Lately the song, "I didn't start the fire" has been running through my head an awful lot. I didn't create the funding formula that doesn't allow for enough teachers, support staff, resource time, resources etc....but I am there in the inferno, trying not to get too burned myself while putting out 15984 fires a week LOL

I am trying very hard right now to find methods that allow me to have a "transition" from work to life. In the past my work was my life, and it consumed me 24/7. I thought about work when I went to bed, and I woke up thinking about work. I worked hours and hours and hours beyond the time that I was compensated for, and still the job couldn't be done.


As of now, technically, I am paid from 8:15 AM - 11: 15 AM. My work hours are shaping up to be 7:30 AM - 12: 30 PM and I have to force myself to leave work at that time because I am a very conscientious and compassionate worker who wants to help the kids and teachers in my charge, but have a ridiculous caseload with too few resources and certainly not enough time or even a resource room setting( cinder block cubicle with room for five kids and not even a window) that allows me to fulfill what I feel are the necessary requirements. BTW I am a resource teacher with a caseload of 46 dd, ld, autistic, Mid, behavioural, autistic and gifted children in Grades 6-8. I don't have enough computers, no EA's, 50 minutes per week admin time for thousands of pages of paperwork. So I guess that is definitely a "situational" factor?

Anyhow, some would say I am just complaining and I should be thankful to have a job. To some degree I agree with that statement, but I have a job in which I can see that it is an unwinnable situation for all involved..me, teacher, child, parent etc. and I am on the front line taking the fire. I wish I could buy into the " I didn't create this...why should I own it", but that will be a long time coming! Because at night I still see the faces of the exceptional children who have been placed in a "regular" classroom either by stupid parental decision or closure of special needs classes, or just because...and I can see how they are discouraged, depressed, frustrated, under-serviced, under-equipped...and I am the documenter, advocate, programmer, supporter etc....but see above work hours vs. case load. (situational?)

196 school days to summer vacation...about 179 demands per day.....you do the math LOL

okay..deep deep breath..have you listened to your relaxation tape, have you taken your wellbutrin, deep deep breath.:dizzy:

mollymom
09-06-2008, 02:42 AM
To Photochick..I did not mean to be either demeaning or dismissive. Having battled this for over twenty years and about just as many meds and psychiatrists and support groups etc. , those two statements just really really hit me.

I do recognize that depression is a chemical imbalance, That doctor just got me wondering what are the factors, if any, that create that imbalance. Is depression something that is just "your luck" like needing glasses, or having asthma, or are there environmental/situational/personality factors that contribute to the depression.

There are studies that are showing that depression can have an hereditary factor much as it is now recognized that alcoholism has a degree of genetic factor to it. But...again that brings us to, "am I depressed/alcoholic etc. because I grew up in an environment that the very nature of my life predisposed me to developing the problem or did I truly develop it all on my own with no outward influences?"

I am adopted, so I have no opportunity to examine my possible genetic predisposition, but I have certainly examined my upbringing, adoptive- family dynamics etc.

Again, with respect, I can't help but wonder..what caused/causes the chemical imbalance. Has it been there since birth..if not..what brought it to the forefront and created the depression. We aren't born with cancer, heart disease, etc. there are in many cases outside factors that bring them on..could it be the same with depression?

PhotoChick
09-06-2008, 03:04 AM
We aren't born with cancer, heart disease, Well, actually, yes, we are.

Studies have shown that ALL of these illnesses are genetic. That doesn't mean it's guaranteed if your parent has it, you'll have it. But the genes for heart disease, cancer, diabetes, etc. ... all of them can be passed on or not. YOu can now test parents to see if they carry recessive genes that will be passed on to their children for certain diseases. I could be tested to see if I carry the breast cancer gene - unlikely since no woman in my family has ever had it. However, I can also be tested to see if I carry the diabetes gene - very likely since every woman in my family has had it.

In that sense ... in the sense that we are genetically programmed for a certain type of disease or illness ... we are "born" with those things. How we live our lives can certainly determine the outcome of whether or not that genetic programming is fulfilled or not, but the potential is something that is with us from birth. In our genes.

.

Primm
09-06-2008, 04:36 AM
I had a whole ranting post written out, and then I read PhotoChick's, and since she said it so much more eloquently than I ever could, I'm just going to repeat her:

I'm sorry, but I have to strongly and vocally disagree with this statement.

There are times that depression can be a symptom. Absolutely, 100%. I've been situationally depressed before - not because I suffer from the disease, but because of actions and situations in my own life that have created stress and my body/mind has responded.

But there are types of depression that ARE illnesses. Some types of depression are caused by chemical imbalances in the brain and are as much an illness as diabetes or thyroid deficiency or any other disease that is caused by a malfunction of bodily systems.

My husband suffers from chronic, clinical depression and I promise you it is not a "symptom" of anything. It is a disease that he alleviates by taking meds for it, just as a diabetic might take insulin.

I'm glad that the statement resonated with you in such a way as to help you. If YOUR depression is situational and you are able to work through it and use that knowledge to help you move forward, I think that's awesome. Truly and honestly. Depression is nothing fun to deal with, ever.

But please consider that it is demeaning and dismissive of those who suffer from the real DISEASE called Depression to issue that blanket statement and not think about the thousands of other people who do deal with this disease every day of their lives.

..

What you wrote may be appropriate IN YOUR SITUATION. Like PhotoChick, my husband suffers from endogenous depression that is caused by a chemical imbalance, and requires medication. Your post is insulting to those of us who deal with depression on a daily basis that is not caused by outside influences.

A little more thought next time. Thanks.

Rosinante
09-06-2008, 06:24 AM
Never heard of ANTS before but I recognize the blighters! Ready to squish them now.
Never heard of GAD but this often where I'm at.
I suffer from an ongoing, lightly grey depression, that situations don't alter. In the States do you have car windscreens/windshields where just the top 6" or so is coloured blue or grey to reflect glare? My life, mostly is like that, only I wade in the grey at the bottom of my windshield. I've tried mild medication but I'm used to the grey, it's part of me. (And I have lots of non-grey bits too!) I'm guessing that's endogenous?
I also suffer, occasionally, from induced depression, caused by external factors.
I found nothing even remotely offensive in the OP, which presented something that had resonated for her, and which asked how others felt about it. (Guess she knows now).