There are several indicators within our society that suggest that depression is prevalent and is not viewed as a serious disorder by the common man. We have all read or heard about the young lady who fell/jumped from the roof of a building only last week. I have also heard several stories about depression that can range from postpartum depression to post traumatic stress disorder. One may wonder why depression is not viewed by most Barbadians as a serious issue. My response to this is simple, our culture. Let me explain.
A friend once told me that some days after the birth of her first son she felt so down that she met her husband at the door and told him that she wanted a divorce. She had spent the whole day in her bed clothes, did not take a bath and was completely despondent. Although she fed the baby she could not bring herself to comb her hair or even prepare a meal. At the time we all told her that she would get over it and quite frankly we all thought that she was being melodramatic, so the next few days when she was back to her former self we forgot about it. Another time, I noticed another friend who had recently had a baby behave in a similar manner, and I asked if she was okay, she said in a slightly defiant voice she ‘just did not feel like doing anything for a few days but she was fine’.
Now, fast forward to a few years later, while talking to some folks about the impact of work stress on sleeplessness; some folks responded by saying they do not have problems sleeping they just “take a drink or two and bob is your uncle … it is morning”. The point that I am making here is we do not like to admit that certain illnesses exist. Some may even say that it is because we see it as a sign of weakness. So although they are some who use the word “depressed” to describe anything from having nothing to do (boredom) to not being able to access a website, depression is a very serious disorder.
After reading the accounts in the media about the young lady’s death I thought of how frivolously we treat individuals who say that they are feeling depressed. So I decided to do some research on depression to share with readers.
The article this week is about the different types of depression. Now according to the National Institute of Mental Health in the United States (http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression/) there are different types of depression. These include but are not limited to:
Psychotic depression: a combination of psychosis and depression where the individual may withdraw from reality and may indicate that they are seeing and hearing things that others do not.
Postpartum depression: experienced by many women following childbirth. This type of depression is usually caused by the adjustment of hormones within the body together with the added responsibility of nurturing and caring for a newborn.
Bipolar disorder: as the name suggests is depression that changes one’s mood from extremely high to extremely low. It is also referred to as a mood disorder.
Dysthymic disorder: where the individual may experience episodes of depression throughout their lifetime. However, they may continue their daily activities without any outward signs of this illness.
Finally, there are minor forms of depression where an individual may complain of feeling depressed for two weeks or more. This form of depression can develop into a major depressive disorder later.
I know that you may be asking the question “how do I know if my sister, brother, friend, mother etc.” is feeling depressed. You see, we along with the rest of the world are going through some difficult times where unemployment is very high and values are quickly becoming very low. Historic records have shown that at times like these, depression is at its highest. Now according to the literature everyone does not display the same symptoms. Here are a few taken from the same website mentioned above:
“…Persistent sad, anxious or empty feelings, feelings of hopelessness, feelings of guilt, worthlessness or helplessness, irritability and restlessness. Loss of interest in activities or hobbies (that were once pleasurable) fatigue and decreased energy and loss of appetite …” (pp4).
Now I do not profess to know or understand why some people more than others are prone to depression neither am I suggesting that this lady suffered from it. But I strongly believe that since we are now a population that is always on the phone we could at least take advice from a once popular song and say to each other “… I just called to say I love you, I just called to say how much I care…” I think this would go a long way towards helping depressed individuals and perhaps save a life. Until next time…
*Daren Greaves is a Management and Organisational Psychology and Consultant at [email protected] Phone (246) 436-4215.
“People who understand human behaviour in the workplace”