RH Web Exclusives : One Size Doesn’t Fit All - by Reed Vreeland

A Smart + Strong Site
Subscribe to:
Real Health magazine
Newsletters
Join Real Health: Facebook Pinterest Twitter YouTube
Back to home » RH Web Exclusives » February 2013
More Web Exclusives:
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
November 2012
September 2012
August 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006

emailprint


February 26, 2013

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

by Reed Vreeland

Depression can be a paralyzing feeling fed by a sense of hopelessness and despair, but not everyone experiences this serious mental illness the same way.

At one time or another, most everyone feels down. But feeling down doesn’t always mean you’re suffering from clinical depression—a condition that interrupts your daily routine and transforms life into days and nights of emotional torture and, in some cases, bouts of actual physical pain.

Although doctors can look for a number of signs and symptoms to diagnose clinical depression, the condition presents differently in different people. “The severity, frequency and duration of symptoms vary depending on the individual and his or her particular illness,” explains the National Institute of Mental Health.

To find out more, we spoke with Lisa Jones, a licensed clinical social worker in private practice in Jamaica, New York. Jones is also a board member of the Siwe Project, a recently established nonprofit organization that aims to reduce mental illness stigma in the African and African-American communities.

How would you explain what depression is to the average person?

There’s a fine line between normal blues and not-so-normal blues that affects your ability to concentrate, work and maintain relationships. When I think of depression, I think of someone who is increasingly sad and who is unable to get a full night’s rest. That person may or may not have some difficulty with their diet or their weight. In addition, he or she may lose an overall interest in things that are typically normal for them. I think that sometimes people overlook being depressed because it may seem temporary. While that might be true, what does temporary look like? Depression has many different faces. It can look like someone who sleeps all the time and is visibly sad, or it can look like someone who is not resting much at all, and who maybe has a lot of somatic [or physical] complaints, such as body aches and neck problems. Defining depression can be a challenge because people tend to look at one thing. We tend to be very rigid in what we think someone with depression looks like, so we may talk to a family member or loved one about their depression and feel that because they’re still functional they’re not really depressed.

That kind of [thinking] just minimizes or invalidates how that person is really feeling on the inside. I think that’s where people really get depression confused, because it’s almost as if we [as a society] can’t see it, it’s not real. So on the inside, people may feel sad, worthless, hopeless and not very optimistic about the future. But often we don’t know what’s going on inside based on different ways that people present—their personality, how they handle stress, how they handle life. Someone [who goes] to work every day could still very well have a major depressive disorder versus someone who can’t get out of bed and might lose their job. We just have to work very hard to figure out what is normal for that person. That’s why it’s on a case-by-case basis. If someone normally sleeps 10 hours each day, that’s normal; that’s a piece of who they are. But if someone normally doesn’t do that and is usually pretty physically active and cheerful, then [sleeping long hours] might be a red flag.

What other symptoms of depression aren’t usually recognized as red flags?

Typically, when you think of depression you think of people who are sad and whose thoughts of hopelessness and guilt are sometimes paired with wanting to die and no longer seeing yourself around or needed. But in the last few years, people are presenting their depression symptoms in a somatic way—headaches, migraines, back pains, neck pains—in general, chronic pain. Your body will tell you when something is wrong. Sometimes, I think that we as a society have become so used to not talking about what’s wrong that we’re internalizing problems and our bodies are responding to that. For clinicians, it’s very important to be aware of how symptoms get shown now. It’s not enough for a family member to bring someone in if they’re sleeping all the time and they won’t get out of bed. That used to be the old-school way [to diagnose depression]. Now we have to be more mindful to get the whole picture of that person, especially when you start to talk about mental health and the racial disparities in the African-American community.

What do you think is the most important thing about depression for people to remember?

People should be mindful that in order to meet the criteria for clinical depression, you have to have at least five of the symptoms I previously mentioned for a two-week period. Those must be present. And [after staring at that list of symptoms], sometimes we may start to over-diagnose ourselves. But it’s key for people to understand what the symptoms of depression look like and what they mean. People should not necessarily be alarmed, but they should be informed because information is key. Information helps you become more self-aware. You will be able to acknowledge what is going on with you, or maybe someone else.

Search: Lisa Jones, LCSW, depression, the Siwe Project, mental illness, hopelessness, guilt, somatic symptoms

Scroll down to comment on this story.



Name:

(will display; 2-50 characters)

Email:

(will NOT display)

City:

(will display; optional)

Comment (500 characters left):

(Note: The Real Health team review all comments before they are posted. Please do not include either ":" or "@" in your comment. The opinions expressed by people providing comments are theirs alone. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Smart + Strong, which is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by people providing comments.)

Comments require captcha.
Please enter this number for verification:

| Posting Rules



Show comments (0 total)

 
FEATURED VIDEO
Check out this really cool video that explains the basics about what happens inside our bodies to cause type 2 diabetes.

REAL HEALTH MAGAZINE

Current Issue
Real Health Archives
Real Health Digital
Real Health Newsletter
Bulk Subscriptions

MOST POPULAR
What you're reading
Is There a Link Between Humor and Depression?
Some Doctors Say Multivitamins Are a Waste of Money
Liquid Found in E-Cigs Can Be Deadly to Children
Which Is Worse on Kids: Having a Parent Divorce, Go to Jail, or Die?
Diabetes Summit Yields Surprising Information About the Disease
Expired Meds: OK to Take, or Major Mistake?

TALK TO US
Tell us what you think
Poll
I think men look better with beards rather than clean shaven.
Yes
No
Not sure

   

Survey
What are your thoughts about vacation?

more surveys

Quiz
The Dating Pool
REAL HEALTH
ON TWITTER
 

[ about Smart + Strong | about Real Health | advertising | contact us | advertising policy ]
© 2014 Smart + Strong. All Rights Reserved. Terms of use and Your privacy
Smart + Strong® is a registered trademark of CDM Publishing, LLC.