HomeNewsCommentariesDisplay

Depression can offer opportunity for reconnection

355th Medical Group Mental Health clinic personnel discuss routine tasks at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Nov. 27, 2019. The clinic strives to improve the mental fitness of 355th Wing Airmen and their families. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Sergio A. Gamboa)

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. (AFNS) --

As a psychologist, I am frequently asked by my patients about the seriousness of their condition: “What does this mean? Am I crazy to be feeling this way? Do I have mental issues?”

Medical terminology is sometimes applied to a pop culture definition that usually leaves one feeling lost and confused about what is actually happening. Mental issues, or what those in the mental health field call a psychiatric disorder, is the culmination of symptoms that when combined cause significant distress or impairment in nearly all life domains for a longer-than-expected period of time.

Depression, for example, happens when a set of symptoms connect and leave us feeling disinterested in the things we usually enjoy, sluggish, sad, hopeless, helpless, irritable and even fatigued or exhausted. This often includes changes in lifestyle behaviors such as sleeping or eating too little or too much, withdrawing from friends and family, or seeking vices such as alcohol or caffeine more regularly in order to temporarily boost mood.

When it comes to clinically significant depression, these changes or coping strategies can last for months or even years, and eventually get in the way of day-to-day functioning. You will not feel your best, nor perform your best.

For those who suffer from more severe or long standing depressive symptoms, there is a deep sense of sadness that often accompanies a bone-deep exhaustion that goes beyond the physical sense. For them, ordinary tasks like getting out of bed, dropping the kids off at school, food preparation, tolerating traffic, or focusing on work may require extra effort and often includes little to no subjective experience of joy or purpose.

Depression can be spurred by a range of factors such as a change in life circumstances, a change in lifestyle behaviors, loss of a loved one, loss of a job, or even loss of hope. While grief is a natural and normal part of the human experience, prolonged and sometimes complicated grief can develop into a depressive episode that can require more focused and proactive measures.

So what’s the antidote to depression?

The antidote often begins with talking to people. I cannot tell you how many patients I’ve had over the years tell me, “I told a friend or family member I had depression, and they responded, ‘me too.’”

In our society, our perception of mental health conditions, like depression, have become almost like mental leprosy; “If you got it, don’t touch me. I might get it too.” Yet, depression and clinically significant depression are experienced by nearly 17.3 million people in the U.S. alone, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

The Center for Disease Control also states that 1 out of 6 adults will experience depression in their lifetime. The World Health Organization’s statistics on depression show that at any given time about 300 million people are experiencing depression worldwide.

Let’s put these numbers into perspective. The current U.S. population is approximately 327.2 million. That is a staggering number of people who may be experiencing the same issue as you. For those willing to initiate a conversation about their own suffering, this condition is shared by many.

For those suffering, many will recover naturally, much like recovering from a brief illness like the flu. When those symptoms become complicated or worsen, people typically seek out their doctors for more specialized treatment.

People often find improvement in their symptoms when they utilize helpful methods, such as going for a run, playing with a pet, a brief cry or relaxing. Other times, the symptoms may be more severe and you need to see a professional who will likely recommend psychotherapy and/or medication, and then you recover and get better.

Yes, that’s right, most people recover. Depression is treatable, even when it feels debilitating. While it can feel isolating, depression is an opportunity for connection with friends, family, coworkers and perhaps even your medical team.

Additionally, if you are a veteran or concerned about a veteran, call 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) to connect with the Veterans Crisis Line and reach a caring, qualified responder. You may also text 838255 or visit https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org or https://www.veteranscrisisline.net to chat. In the event of an emergency, please call 911.

For additional mental health resources and tips click on the links below:

 

Engage

Facebook Twitter
RT @AirNatlGuard: "We talk about lining ourselves up with our sister services and joint efforts to make sure we accomplish our mission; the…
RT @AFResearchLab: The year is 1947. The @usairforce officially broke the sound barrier with the Bell X-1 aircraft. This incredible feat w…
RT @theF35JPO: Congratulations to the @AusAirForce for completing their #F35 training mission at @LukeAFB! 🇦🇺 ⚡ Learn more 🔗 https://t.co/2…
RT @CENTCOM: A French Rafale conducts nighttime air refueling with a U.S. Air Force KC-10 Extender assigned to the 380th Air Expeditionary…
RT @DeptofDefense: Jumping from a plane becomes a big step toward friendship. 301 soldiers and airmen from @USArmyReserve, @usairforce, and…
Explosive Disposal Ordnance (EOD) Airmen are often assigned to some of the most dangerous missions and perform tact… https://t.co/xYc9Ip5psn
Start this year by supporting your #Airmen in their pursuit of #resiliency. Learn about common triggers of invisibl… https://t.co/6gJSfJKvcK
RT @OHNationalGuard: The @180thFW hosted members of the Nigerian Air Force recently Officers visited the 180FW in search of #bestpractice
RT @HiAirGuard: Airmen from 154th Security Forces Squadron became first responders during a Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear…
RT @US_SOCEUR: U.S. #airmen assigned to the 352d Special Operations Wing perform maintenance on a CV-22B #Osprey aircraft in Szolnok, #Hung
RT @HQ_AFMC: The @AFResearchLab s X-60A program achieved a key developmental #milestone with the completion of integrated vehicle propulsio…
RT @DeptofDefense: If you want to get there as fast as possible, don’t stop for gas. ⛽ That’s why the @usairforce relies on airmen like Tec…
RT @DeptofDefense: Press ▶️ to learn more about @USAFCENT, the command that provides air & space warfighting capabilities to help defeat v…
Airmen with the Puerto Rico Air National Guard provide support at the “tent cities” to support Task Force South and… https://t.co/zg2yT0LqpS
Even the most advanced aircraft in history requires extensive maintenance performed by Airmen on the ground to kee… https://t.co/Kpv8JlzYIc
RT @AirMobilityCmd: Throwback Thursday and #TankerThirstThursday are the same game. Throwing it back to last month when a KC-135 Stratotank…
If you thought the C-5M Super Galaxy was cool before, wait until you hear @RichardHammond describe it and its capab… https://t.co/jbYbdyHx5q
Air National Guardsmen from @105AW are on the ground in Puerto Rico with their counterpart, @PRNationalGuard, provi… https://t.co/ZwzhCEpWY4
RT @HAFB: Join us for the Hill Air Force Base 80th Anniversary Celebration from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Jan. 18 at the Hill Aerospace Museum! A nu…
Ranges are crucial to the training and readiness of our warfighters. Get an inside look at how they prepare to figh… https://t.co/i5CnbpBGAw