Doris Bersing, PhD
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Depression: You Can Break Free From it

Sadness and depression

Copyright: kmiragaya

More than just a bout of the blues, depression is not a permanent personality trait or a character issue or a weakness, nor is it something that you can simply “snap out” of.

Clinicians at the Mayo Clinic state that “…Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Also called major depression, major depressive disorder or clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. You may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and depression may make you feel as if life isn’t worth living…depression may require long-term treatment. But don’t get discouraged. Most people with depression feel better with medication, psychological counseling or both…”

Struggling with depression requires action, but taking action when you’re depressed is hard. Even f you know you could do something to feel better, the fact of just thinking about the things you should do to feel better, requires a level of energy, often, you do not have. It’s the paradoxical side of fighting depression: The things that help us the most are the things that are the most difficult to do and overcoming depression is not something you do in the blink of an eye, it is difficult stuff but there’s a difference between something that’s difficult and something that’s impossible.

A recent article on WebMD states that “…many people think of depression as an intolerable sadness or a deep gloom that just won’t go away. Yet depression can also be sneaky, disguised in symptoms that can be hard to identify. If you’ve had unexplained aches or pains, often feel irritable or angry for no reason, or cry at the drop of a hat — you could be depressed.

Fortunately, you can be proactive with depression. Learn how these less obvious symptoms can reveal themselves and when you should seek out depression treatment…” Read More


Depression Hurts and Robs You of Your Life

Copyright by  Piotr Marcinski

Copyright by Piotr Marcinski

We have written about people dying of depression, which can be an ultimate fact for those who shut down and decided to go on a suicidal path, for those, that is the end. However for others, who go with untreated depression, death perhaps is not an option but a less than pleasant and meaningful life is. Having the blues or being sad after an important loss in your life, it is not depression but a normal and healthy response to events in life but when the blues become more purple than blue (so-to-speak), we are perhaps looking at a different situation.

Many myths regarding depression revolve around being stronger, like getting a grip on the particular situation one faces, or working harder to “get it out of your head…”or believing the prolonged sadness is just normal and not perhaps an illness; even thinking it is only one’s self-pity instead of a treatable condition add insult to an already deep and painful injury.

Sometimes, we are worry that treating the depression will mean being labeled as a mental patient, being on drugs forever, and seeing a therapist several times per week. Despite what the best seller “Prozac Nation” depicts (although some passages are right) about medication is only one of the tools used to lift depression. And looking for help does not mean you will be on psychotropic drugs forever. In fact, studies suggest that psychotherapy in any of its modalities (talking therapy, drama therapy, expressive arts, cognitive behavioral, deep brief oriented or others) work as well as prescription drugs to treat depression. Moreover, even if you are prescribed some drugs, chances are that it will not be a lifetime solution.

Feeling sad, hopeless, and helpless, is true, does not help to lift the by now purple instead of blues but do not fool yourself, the hopelessness is part of the illness, not a part of daily life and for sure not an unchangeable reality. When treated, positive thinking gradually replaces negative thoughts. In fact, most people (up-to 70% as by the National Institute of Mental Health) who seek for help to deal with their depression become symptom-free by combining medication and psychotherapy.

The bottom line is that if you have been feeling down and/or sad for what it seems to be too long, you should seek for help. Trying to diagnose yourself or going through the list of symptoms after a goggle search can confirm your suspicion but can mislead you as well. A reliable source on how to seek for help can be found on the WebMD or Psychology Today.

Whatever you do, remember you do not need to lose your mojo, being purple all the time, or miss out on all the fun and meaning of your life.


Depression Kills

Free Wallpapers by Karl

Free Wallpapers by Karl

Still after few days, the news about Robin Williams’ apparent suicide shocked me beyond what I expected my own reactions to this phenomenon would be. Few months ago, Philip Seymour Hoffman saddened me when dying of a drug overdose yet another consumed suicide. What has become apparent to me after these events is how much depression is underestimated by the general public and even by professionals and how, sometimes, it’s plays down as a personality fault, like not trying hard, being lazy.

How many times had we said to somebody who expresses feeling depressed…”comm’on …try it this or that…eventually it is about trying and you will be out of it…’ Well, the true facts show us that sometimes like in Williams; case or even Hoffman’s one, it is not that simple.The suffering created by mental illness is misunderstood by some people and the lack of empathy and support can be lethal for those affected by it.Millions of U.S. adults struggle with depression. Often, medication and psychotherapy help their moods and outlook. That said there is an optimal time to deal with the issue and a far-gone time when all hopes are over. Then we need to try to act upon the right timing and provide the help the person is looking for. Yet when depression kills, who is to blame, then? Is it the system, the therapist, the lack of willingness to work on the issues from the patients’ perspective, the despondence after trying tons of times?

Let’s face it, there is not a one size fits all answer and it is difficult to blame only one factor on why depression turn deadly for some and others seem to overcome it. Although they can be many factors affecting how bad depression can go like chronic mental illness, physical illness, untreated depression, feelings of hopelessness and emptiness, depression can be conquered. We need to continue talking about it and being alert and attentive to the signs of profound depression among us to support people affected by and encourage them to seek help.

Not all therapists are the same but if you are ready to do the “work”, therapy and the right therapist will help tremendously. Treatment works when done right. Medications help but alone it is just a palliative intervention and without diving into the deep waters of your mental issues, you are just masking the real reasons for your hopelessness. Look for someone who is a licensed therapist, with expertise in the area in which you are seeking help and combine it with supportive medication and be ready to walk through the dark night of the soul with the conviction that there is alight at the end of the tunnel.

Lord Buddha had already said 2,500 years ago that life is full of unpleasant moments and experiences and that there is pain in the world and it is unavoidable.
“Each life is filled with 10,000 joys and 10,000 sorrows.” But suffering, he said, is the response, “the relationship” we maintain, to the pain. He stated that one could experience pain without experiencing suffering. Even physical pain seems to reduce if we don’t resist it. Thus, there is hope, if we change the way we approach our suffering, we change the results of it. One valuable resource is mindfulness practice, used these days to work with pain, people with dementia, ADD, an other conditions and it teach us to breath and being in the moment, which, can help with the feelings of despondency and depressive thoughts. The breath calms the body and calms the mind. Mindfulness is about being aware of all this. It’s about stepping back and taking a different view of things, as the observer, rather than the participant. Of course, easier said than done and yet, we should have hope and seek professional help.

Diving into the deep sea of your issues is not comfortable or easy but very rewarding once you close some of the unfinished business that originate your current issues while gaining awareness of how your life became what is today. Yes, we are the product of the past but gaining that awareness here and now, helps us take the reins of our lives and make the changes we need to make to keep going in a different path from now on. Appreciate the opportunity to immerse yourself in anew path, one of change and hope. Start anew!


Depression: A Terrible Truth and a Tale of Courage

Copyright : iqoncept

Copyright : iqoncept

When you read the statistics on the mental health phenomena, they will tell you that mental health is extremely prevalent in the adult population. An estimated 44.3 million American adults experience a diagnosable mental disorder each year. Approximately 18.8 million adults have a depressive disorder and over 19 million adults suffer from anxiety disorders. Millions of other people are dealing with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, eating disorders, substance abuse and other mental health problems. Mental illnesses can cause a person to have major difficulty functioning at their job, as a parent and in all areas of their lives. It is imperative for adults to be aware of their mental health and the mental health of their loved ones.

From these numbers, it seems like having a mental illness is an issue that everybody portraits, a norm, thus if it is so common, what that really means? perhaps that the abnormal is becoming normal? That the system is screwing us all? or that the paradigm should shift from diagnosing to preventing, re-vamping? Healing? Is it as the allergies in California,  something you develop sooner or later once you have landed here? Is it, really, that prevalent or we are misusing and/or abusing diagnoses?

When abusing or misusing diagnoses we are increasing the stigma that is already linked to mental illness. There is the sense of general stigma  from being different, weaker, suffering from depression, being a loser, having low self-esteem, ADD, not completing tasks, having anxiety or panic attacks, or to that matter any mental disorder found in the voluminous DSM V.

Once diagnosed or complaining about having a mental “issue”, well intentioned people would look at you and say things, like: I too have been sad but if you work hard, you’ll get out of it…well sometimes, you do not; or they will suggest you just try to lead a healthy and balance life, find your purpose, your meaning in life, follow your passion…Really? Some people cannot even get up and go, none the less find a passion to keep going. The stigma and the paralysis to act hits you really hard.

Having mental illness depicted in a negative side and represented in the media inaccurately and giving hurtful representations of its causes and consequences increase the stigma and discourage people suffering to seek help. NAMI StigmaBusters  is a network of dedicated advocates across the country and around the world that seek to fight misleading representations of mental illness. Whether these images are found in TV, film, print, or other media, StigmaBusters speak out and challenge stereotypes. They seek to educate society about the reality of mental illness and the courageous struggles faced by consumers and families every day. Their goal is to break down the barriers of ignorance, prejudice, or unfair discrimination by promoting education, understanding, and respect.Each month, close to 20,000 advocates receive a NAMI StigmaBusters Alert, and it is read by countless others around the world online.

In a candid tale of her own depression, Dr. Elizabeth J. Griffin, MD, a pediatrician tells of her 40-year battle with severe depression, and the stigmatization she fell under. She says “Depression is overwhelming and overpowering, and it crushes its prey…’ Severely depressed persons grow convinced beyond any doubt whatsoever that our families would be better off if we were dead. We believe that only by suicide can we help them salvage whatever remnants of their lives we have not already destroyed, even if we actually have done nothing that would hurt them or anyone else….’ I believed that everyone felt and thought this way to some extent. I once explained some of this to one friend, a compassionate and extremely intelligent physician. He looked at me in amazement and said, “You do know, don’t you, how completely foreign everything you just said is to me?” In fact, learning just that was a real eye-opener for me, “a light-bulb moment.” Read her story  Dr. Griffin has very interesting points to guide people in the process of “how to talk about depression:

  • “…People with depression need someone to speak up when we cannot, especially to explain our illness to our loved ones. Most of us are too frightened and ashamed to talk about it. Unless we learn how to be open about depression, the stigma will remain, and people who need treatment will continue to avoid seeking it.
  • If you have depression, tell someone you can trust and seek professional help. It is available—and it can help. Depression does not have to last forever; you really can get better with time and treatment…’
  • If someone you care about is depressed, tell him you do care, that you love him, and that you want to understand and help. Tell her how important she is to you and what you admire about her. Tell him you want him and need him in your life, and that things will get better. Ask her to hang on until they do. Beg him to promise that he won’t do anything to hurt himself, that he will not commit suicide…’
  • You may save the life of someone you love….”

As mental health providers, we are supposed to be the catalysts of personal growth, soul search, and redemption, we should never give up, labeling, or cast out people who are going through the dark night of the soul, redeeming one person is redeeming the world. Actually, this represents the traditional Jewish principle of Tikkun Olam that is the precept of the Jewish ethical principle that every person is worth saving. The Jewish path of walking through life, is a path of healing. Tikkun olam, the repair of the world, is a macrocosm of the tikkun atzmi, the inner process of healing. Healing, by definition, is the attempt to bring balance to both the inner and external healing processes and that, instead of labeling and pathologizing our clients, should be the role of the clinician. But more about Tikkun Olam in my next post. For now, let’s be a container for those who suffer from depression without judgement or biases, but with the right intervention,  a listening ear, and a compassionate heart.

How to talk about depression
o People with depression need someone to speak up when we cannot, especially to explain our illness to our loved ones. Most of us are too frightened and ashamed to talk about it. Unless we learn how to be open about depression, the stigma will remain, and people who need treatment will continue to avoid seeking it.

o If you have depression, tell someone you can trust and seek professional help. It is available—and it can help. Depression does not have to last forever; you really can get better with time and treatment.

o If someone you care about is depressed, tell him you do care, that you love him, and that you want to understand and help. Tell her how important she is to you and what you admire about her. Tell him you want him and need him in your life, and that things will get better. Ask her to hang on until they do. Beg him to promise that he won’t do anything to hurt himself, that he will not commit suicide.

You may save the life of someone you love.

– See more at: http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/suicide/what-depression-does-our-minds-when-it-attacks/page/0/2?GUID=&rememberme=1&ts=22072014#sthash.buAhOPkF.dpuf


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