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Depression Among Older, Caucasian Men Poses the Greatest Suicide Risk

Adult-Ment-Health-imageDepression affects more people than any other mental health disorder. Research suggests that 16.6 percent of Americans will experience serious depression (referred to as major depressive disorder) at some period during their lifetime. Among women, some studies suggest the rate may be as high as 20 percent. Unfortunately, one episode of major depression often predicts future episodes.

Depression and Suicide
Depression carries with it many significant side effects. Apart from prolonged feelings of sadness and hopelessness, people with depression often become socially isolated, have trouble sleeping or concentrating and find difficulty truly enjoying many of life’s normal pleasures. Suicide is the most severe side effect. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide poses the greatest threat to depressed, Caucasian, older men.

Why Older, Caucasian Males?
There are no clear explanations as to why this is so, but several theories have been examined. For one thing, men seem more reluctant to seek out treatment and so their depression may become unbearable more often. In addition, men tend to make more violent attempts to take their life and so may succeed more often compared to women. Some experts have even suggested that white males enjoy the greatest amount of success in society and so may have fewer opportunities to learn coping skills which are formed through dealing with loss, disappointment and struggle.

Prevention is Key for Reducing Suicide Rate
Whatever the cause, the most serious danger seems to come from relapse. Having a single period of severe depression makes it much more likely that another bout of depression will turn up one day. This is even true for patients who seek out treatment. The patterns of negative thinking which contribute to depression may become a default pattern when stress increases. For this reason, some experts believe that prevention is the real key to reducing the suicide rate among older white men – or anyone.

It is better to get help when a person is beginning to feel depressed rather than waiting until it is severe. If you or someone close to you has been feeling down for several weeks without an obvious cause, contact Family Guidance today.

Death of Robin Williams Illuminates Depression as a Disease

Robin Williams 1Just as any physical illness is best treated at its early stages, depression is also best treated in its early stages.

The death of Robin Williams led many  to feel that they had lost not only an icon in the country’s entertainment culture, but also a friend that made them laugh but could also shed tears with them. Williams was not only Mork, Mrs. Doubtfire and Genie, but also Patch Adams and John Keating.

For many, however, the death of Williams brings to light not only the loss of a great comedian, actor and entertainer, but also the depths of struggling with depression.

Depression carries with it a stigma, in which those who experience depression are supposed to be different from the rest of the population. When you picture depression, it may carry a face of tears and frustration. In reality, depression can look a lot of different ways.

In the days after Williams’s death, many celebrities have used the opportunity to honor Williams by talking about their own experience with depression. Talking about depression can remove the stigma and give individuals the ability to admit to a loved one that they need help.

When individuals face a stigma attached to a mental disorder, they may be reluctant to tell anyone about their symptoms. Depression can be easy to hide at its early stages. While a person may struggle for weeks on end, they may have times where symptoms subside and they can point to these times to convince themselves and loved ones that everything is okay.

Depression may also feel lonely. If you have depression, you may imagine that only you are struggling with these types of symptoms and that everyone else has it together. However, the World Health Organization says that 350 million people worldwide suffer from depression. More than half the population will, at some point in their lives, meet criteria for a mental disorder. You are not alone if you struggle with depression.

By the time help is sought, depression may have progressed in its severity and symptoms. Finding the right combination of treatment can be a trial-and-error process. Because it may take weeks for medications to affect symptoms and therapy to begin to work, the process of recovery may take time

If you have had symptoms over a long period of time, they may have escalated to a point where it is difficult to endure a long process of finding the right medication and therapy combination. As a result, it is important to seek out help as soon as it becomes apparent that low moods are becoming problematic.

If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, contact Family Guidance to guide you through an evaluation to determine whether treatment for depression might be beneficial. Visit the Family Guidance website to learn more about depression as well as the services and treatment options offered.

When Someone You Love is Experiencing Depression

Depression is one of the most common mental health illness diagnoses, affecting nearly one in 10 adultDepression 4 Americans. Sometimes depression is mild but persistent. This is known as dysthymia. Other times depression is severe. This is called major or clinical depression. Regardless of whether the person you love is experiencing either type of depression, it can be difficult to know how to help. Here are a few suggestions.

1. Ask Questions
Try to avoid the phrase “I know how you feel”. Instead, try asking pointed questions. Your loved one may have difficulty putting their current state into words with an open-ended question like “What’s wrong?” but specific questions can be helpful. Try questions like:

  • When did you start feeling this way?
  • Any idea what might have triggered your feelings?
  • Does anything help you to feel better?
  • Does anything make you feel even worse?

2. Look for Ways to Alleviate Stress
As a friend or family member you can’t necessarily remove sources of stress, but you can look for ways to lighten some of the pressure. Stress is a major contributor to depression so lowering it will really help. Try:

  • Picking up children from school or activities or watching them for a few hours each week
  • Give a coupon for a therapeutic massage (you may have to drive them there)
  • Offer to go with them on a walk, bike ride or picnic (they may resist but keep asking since sunshine and activity are mood-elevating)

3. Speak About Their Positive Qualities
It’s easy for a depressed person to get lost in self-reproach. What can really help is a positive outside perspective on who they really are. Take every opportunity to tell them how you see them: kind, intelligent, determined, empathetic, funny or witty.

One of the best things you can do for your loved one is to suggest they talk with a professional about their depression. Counselors at Family Guidance understand all kinds of depression and know how to help your loved one find their way out. Act and speak wisely with your struggling loved one, but don’t be afraid to encourage a call for help.

Depression in Summer Could Be SAD

SAD 2A mood disorder known as SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is a form of depression that comes and goes according to the calendar. People with SAD feel depressed at the same time every year. For most, this disorder manifests during the short, dark days of winter when a lack of sunlight dampens the person’s mood. But small minorities of Americans experience another form of SAD, called reverse SAD, and they feel blue during summer. Specialists think that reverse SAD could be caused by over-exposure to sunshine or it may be a reaction not to the sunshine itself, but to high heat.

Relation to Bipolar Disorder
The way SAD manifests itself differs depending upon whether it shows up in winter or summer. For this reason, among others, some experts have connected the condition with another mood disorder; bipolar disorder. In one sense, a person could view SAD as evidencing one end or the other of the bipolar spectrum. People with winter SAD show more of the depressive symptoms associated with bipolar while those with summer SAD evidence more of the manic symptoms.

People with summertime SAD may experience: insomnia, anxiety, irritability or agitation, hopelessness or guilt. Unlike other forms of depression which usually lower a person’s libido, people with summer SAD may actually experience an increase in sex drive. Headaches can also be a symptom of SAD.

Winter Versus Summer
The chief difference between winter and summer SAD has to do with energy. Those with summertime SAD tend to be more energetic while those with winter SAD have low energy and are uninterested in even pleasurable pursuits. Connected to the difference in activity levels is the difference in weight change. Summer SAD often leads to weight loss while winter SAD often produces weight gain.

The other big difference between the two is that winter SAD may improve with light therapy while summer SAD doesn’t get better by sitting indoors in the dark. If you find that you experience depression every summer that seems to get better when fall rolls around you may have summer SAD. This kind of disorder only improves with counseling along with possible medication. If this describes you, call Family Guidance today and talk with an expert.

Depression: It’s Not All the Same for Men and Women

Depression 6Scientific research continues to reveal that while men and women are overwhelmingly similar, there remain some key distinctives between the sexes. For example, although men and women both experience depression, it doesn’t look exactly the same for them. Here are some key gender-related differences:

Women Face a Higher Risk
Women are two times more likely than men to become depressed. The biological divide is partly due to hormonal differences between men and women. Even during fetal development men and women are experiencing differences in brain development that will affect their higher or lower vulnerability to depression.

Women Ruminate More
When women become depressed they tend to spend more time focusing on their negative emotions and thinking problems over and over in their head. This negative self-talk is called rumination and women do it more than men. When men feel depressed, they quickly find a way to distract themselves and their thoughts. This ability to redirect negative thoughts is a key skill for breaking out of depression.

Women More Vulnerable to Stress
It could be thanks to hormones, but women are more likely than men to become depressed following a stressful situation.

Women Frequently Experience Another Mental Health Disorder
It’s one of those gender injustices, but depressed women tend to experience another mental health disorder along with depression more often than men. Eating disorders and anxiety disorders in particular affect depressed women more than men.

Men Use Substances Before, Women After
Men and adolescent boys tend to ease any troubled emotions with drugs or alcohol before they actually become depressed while women tend to turn to substances after they become depressed.

Men and Women and Antidepressants
Although we don’t quite know why, but men and women respond differently to antidepressants.

Whether you are a man or a woman, depression is a real illness. And like a real illness, it can be treated. Family Guidance offers treatment for depression that can break the bonds of chronic sadness. Contact them today.