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I am a Kaiser Permanente Orange County Ambassador, all opinions are my own.
Depression is an Illness
Depression is an illness. Not an excuse, not a sign of weakness, not a passing fad and yes…it can affect anyone, anywhere at any time. I recently had the opportunity to talk with Dr. Dilek Avci of Kaiser Permanente Orange County about depression and it was a fascinating conversation about our mental health. Dr. Avci announced right at the start of our rather lengthily conversation (there’s just so much to talk about when it comes to mental health!) that depression is in fact, an illness. Dr. Avci stated that when patients have presenting symptoms that are the same it is in fact, an illness. According to Merriam Webster the definition of an illness is:
Illness: an unhealthy condition of body or mind
Am I Depressed?
Common signs of depression include:
- Loss of interest
- Feeling irritable
- Feeling hopeless
- Trouble thinking, concentrating, remembering, and making decisions
- Sleep Disturbance
- Low energy
- Feeling restless, unable to sit still, or unusually slow in movement or action
- Negative Self Talk
- Physical symptoms such as pain or digestion issues
When these symptoms affect your functioning for two weeks or longer, please seek the advice of a medical professional.
What is the Difference between Depression and Sadness?
We know that the most common symptom of depression is sadness, it can be hard to determine the difference between the two. However, depression is more than just sadness, and not simply by just a little bit. The difference doesn’t lie in the amount to which someone feels down, but rather in a combination of factors relating to the length of time of these negative feelings and the effect upon the individual’s ability to function in daily life.
According to the DSM5, a diagnosis of mental illness requires impact on functioning. Sadness is a normal emotion that everyone will experience at some point in his or her life. The loss of a job, the end of a relationship, or the death of a loved one, sadness is usually caused by a specific situation, person, or event. When it comes to depression, however, no such trigger is needed, although it may follow these stressful events. A person suffering from depression may feel sad or hopeless about everything. This person may have every reason in the world to be happy and yet they may lose the ability to experience joy or pleasure.
Postpartum Depression + You
Hey mama, I see you. I see you’re tired, strung-out and in need of a break (even a 20 second break will do). Between the never-ending chores, expensive errands, relentless housework, jobs that pay bills…and then toss in the kids and it’s no wonder you’re having a tough time. I see you because I used to be you. Tired, overwhelmed and in serious need of a helping hand. Did you know that Postpartum Depression affects 10% of the population with a huge increase of happenstance with women with previous depression symptoms? I knew I had a problem when I no longer enjoyed cooking (something I really looked forward to everyday) so I went to my Kaiser Permanente Orange County primary care provider and talked to her about my options. She prescribed a low-level Prozac to help manage my mood (what works for me, may not work for you) and I haven’t looked back. I recommend you do the same.
Manage Your Depression Without Medication
There are ways that we can fight the illness without medication. Or even better, ways to manage your depression along with medication. These include:
- Taking good care of your physical health. Regularly following up with your primary care provider.
- Eating healthy
- Engage in activities that make you feel better
- Reach out to people – tell them you’re having a hard time
- Get support
- Talk to your doctor
- Explore meditation, yoga, exercise
- Get out there and be social (even if it’s hard!)
Even though you may not feel like it, changing your scenery and engaging in new environments will uplift your spirits. When we take a proactive approach to our mental health we will win the battle against depression.
To learn more about this topic, log on to Kaiser Permanente Orange County
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