Depression and Anxiety

Do you think you suffer from Dysthymia (Chronic Depression), Bipolar Disorder, or  Major Depression? Or, maybe you were already diagnosed and you want to know more. Either way, are you afraid to tell certain people? Do these “people” tell you that you lack faith or that you eat and drink the wrong things? Or, did someone say something like “man up and move on”?

How should Catholics and Christians deal with depression? Everybody needs to know that depression is a mental illness, a disease. “Over 15 million American adults, around 6.7 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older, suffer from depression in a given year.  In 2015, about 3 million teens ages 12 to 17 had at least one major depressive episode in the past year”[1]. You do not stand alone if you are depressed.  Several famous people suffered through depression. They include “Ludwig van Beethoven, John Lennon, Edgar Allan Poe, Mark Twain, Georgia O’Keefe, Vincent van Gogh, Ernest Hemmingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Sylvia Plath”[2].

Your faith can only get you so far when you have a mental illness. You can make small improvements to how you feel by praying, seeking help, changing your diet, but depression isn’t going away overnight — or in the next week, for that matter. As for the ‘man up …’ response, next time someone tells you that just say, “I’m alive and out of bed! That’s two big steps.” It’s proof that you already stood up to depression today, probably twice or more. Today, you are NOT one of the estimated 15% of depressed people who take their lives each year.

Depression is a complicated disease. “According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, there are two main categories of depression—major depressive disorder and dysthymia—and a grouping of other, less common types. There are also a number of other mood disorders that can cause depression symptoms”[3].

Symptoms

Here is a list of Depression Warning Signs you can use for your doctor or to tell any of your loved ones about this problem:

  • “Unexplained, long term or frequent sadness;
  • “Anxiety including feeling jittery, wanting to hide, or panic attacks;
  • “Unexplained weight loss OR weight gain – most people say this should have happened in the last six months, but if you can narrow it down to any six-month period, I say it counts;
  • “Changes in your personality or reactions, such as from calm and collected to angry and abrasive (or the opposite);
  • “You’re often angry or disappointed with yourself;
  • “You lost 2 or more jobs because you’re “too slow,” you get too nervous, or because you can’t concentrate”[4].

Wait, please read the second one again. That’s right Anxiety is an Indicator of Depression! I used to think they were two different mental problems that seemed to feed off each other. The truth is “Depression is experienced as anxiety 65 percent of the time”[5]. Of course, it is possible to have anxiety without Depression. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and anorexia are two examples of that. You probably feel anxious about something, and then you are angry or disappointed with yourself because you’re afraid, and then you get more depressed. We often start avoiding whatever it was that made us nervous which, in turn, makes us even angrier with ourselves.

Men and Women Suffer Differently

Another interesting fact is men often re-act differently to depression than women. “While it has been accepted that women are more likely to be depressed than man, the rate of suicide in men as a result of depression is four times that of women. Men appear less depressed because they are less likely to admit to depression, and they tend to cover it up by taking drugs or alcohol, or by working overtime.”[6]. That is not meant to overlook women or girls; I’m one of you. Ladies, we tend to have irregular hormones, multiple food allergies, and severe hypoglycemia.

Next Steps to Take

If you have noticed  the symptoms above OR someone else has mentioned them to you, please tell someone about it. Seek professional help as soon as possible! Encourage friends and family to seek aid if they have symptoms, too.

Go see a family doctor or internal specialist first and tell her or him about what’s going on. Have your hormones tested — testosterone for males, estrogen and testosterone for females. Also, ask for a complete thyroid profile and a Glucose Tolerance Test. I highly encourage one or more tests for food allergies, too.

Low thyroid or hormone level(s), diabetes, food allergies, and hypoglycemia can cause a lot of the same problems as depression. If you have depression and any of the hormone or endocrine problems, your Depression and Anxiety can be worse than normal! Your doctor may send you to one or more other doctors who specialize in a particular area.

Most importantly, don’t give up. You deserve treatment and respect. Keep your faith despite the challenges of your health. Do NOT curse God or say “God doesn’t exist”. Be patient and do everything in your power to help God.

 

Sources:

[1] 11 Facts About Depression

[2] 11-facts-about-depression

[3] https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/types-tab Emphasis added.

[4] Depression Anxiety Help

[5] 10 Little Known Facts About Depression

[6] 10 Interesting Facts About Depression