Thursday, May 30, 2013

Depression and Anxiety - How to Recognize it Before It's Too Late

Does any of this sound familiar?

"There is so much that needs doing around the house, but I'm just not up to it today. Maybe tomorrow"

"I've been doing mediocre work on the job. It's just a matter of time before they fire me."

"My wife is going to leave me because I'm such a loser."

These are typical beliefs of clinically (sometimes called chronic) depressed individuals and they are very real and natural to them - never realizing that the thoughts are abnormal. Clinical depression can also affect your body, behavior and your ability to work or study. Other typical symptoms include feelings of sadness, hopelessness, guilt, apathy and worthlessness. You lose interest in activities that were once enjoyable and get no satisfaction from what was once exciting. You end up dwelling on these negative thoughts and your mood spirals down deeper and deeper. Sleep patterns change. Appetite changes. Making decisions become difficult. You may become angry or anxious for no apparent reason.Even suicide is considered.

In a nutshell, you beat yourself up and blame yourself and feel guilty for everything. Clinical depression is not a sign of weakness, as so many people believe. Individuals cannot simply "pull themselves out of it," In fact, the sickness actually interferes with wanting or asking for help.There are different levels and types of clinical depression and every year it affects over 17 million men and women in the United States. Some believe it's caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, while others think the biological changes are a result of the depression. Either way, it's not import how you got it - what is important is that you seek help as soon as possible.

I know because last year it happened to me. But I made the mistake of not finding help soon enough. In fact I'm still in recovery. Remember those three examples above? Those were mine. For over three months I developed clinical depression and didn't know it, I just thought that my life had taken a turn for the worse and that was why I was feeling so down; why I couldn't fall asleep for hours because I'd be worrying about this or that; why my appetite dropped drastically; and why I felt so alone, hopeless and pessimistic.Then one day I got a rather nasty letter from the IRS and it was more than I could handle. I ended up on the bed in a fetal position, crying for over 4 hours. I experienced my first of many full-blown anxiety attacks (also known as panic attacks). It was then that my wife and I decided I needed help so I started seeing a therapist.

After six weeks and a dozen or so sessions, my therapist diagnosed severe clinical depression, which was beyond her training. She suggested that I check myself into a psychiatric hospital. I was assured that it would be a five-day stay and I would be treated with a combination of psychiatric care and medications.Well, the five days turned into forty-four. During that time I was put on heavy medications (seven ones in all); I went to group therapy twice a day; I had thirteen ECT (electric shock therapy) treatments; and because I was so anxious and nervous, I took up smoking again, a lot. But even with all that, I was so depressed that suicide seemed like a pretty good idea.

Needless to say, I was in a seriously bad state of mental health.But I eventually did improve (Xanax became my best friend), and finally I graduated from inpatient status to outpatient status for another ten weeks. This consisted of gong to the hospital three days a week for further therapy and continuing with all the medications. For a while there was under the care of two psychologists and four therapists simultaneously. Between my sessions with them and my medication schedules, my calendar was a crowded mess. But after those seventeen intense weeks,I'm feeling much better. My anxiety is almost nonexistent and I have only a few days of depressed feelings per month.

What can you do to avoid what I went through?If I had only known at the beginning of those first three month what I know now, I might have been able to avoid the whole hospital thing altogether. You see, there are other tools and options available that can stop the depression-downward-spiral before it becomes too deep. Some involve self-cognitive programs, some use over-the-counter natural anti-depressants, and others combine the two. They have proven to be effective and tens of thousands of people have overcome their depression or anxiety in only a few short weeks. They avoided hundreds of therapy sessions, long stays in hospitals, weeks of missing work, long lists of prescriptions medications. And they save a lot of money.

So take it from someone who knows: If you think you see the beginning signs of anxiety or depression, take affirmative action right away before it's too late. If I had, I could have saved months of needless heartache and suffering (for both my wife and myself), the loss of my job, and an awful lot of money.

PS: I'm still in recovery but as I mentioned earlier, I'm doing much muchbetter. I'm down to visiting only one therapist once a week and a nurse practitioner (for prescription medications) once a month. But I'll be on anti-depressants for at least a year. Oh, and the letter from the IRS..don't ask.

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