There was one demon he couldn't cope with however.
The world was shocked by the news of Robin Williams. By all outward appearances he had everything going for him. He was funny, successful, a humanitarian, and a family man. He spoke openly about his problems with addiction and one would assume he could manage his demons by going to rehab as many of the rich and famous often do. There was one demon he couldn't cope with however. That demon was depression.
Depression affects about one in ten Americans. Only one out of three who suffer from depression ever get treatment and may attempt to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. Many succumb to lives of misery and assume there is no way out.
Depression is often misunderstood. It is easy to assume that the depressed person simply feels sorry for him or herself unless one is a trained psychotherapist or marriage counselor as I am in Los Angeles. One may encourage those suffering from depression to simply "snap out of it" or to "look at the bright side of things". Unfortunately, asking a clinically depressed person to snap out of their depressed state is paramount to telling someone with the flu to simply "get over it".
When practicing marital counseling in Los Angeles I often find that one partner tends to be more depressed than the other. Some depression can be expected when relationship concerns are an issue. If one partner is experiencing clinical depression it can be a serious impediment to relationship counseling and can have a significant impact on the functioning of the relationship.
How Depression Differs from Feeling Down
We all get the "blues" and feel down at times. It is important to understand the warning signs so you can differentiate true depression from the typical "lows" we all experience from time to time.
Symptoms associated with depression are far more pervasive and enduring than symptoms associated with feeling "down" or "low". According to Web MD a depressed person is likely to experience:
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
- Fatigue and decreased energy
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness
- Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
- Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
- Irritability, restlessness
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
- Overeating or appetite loss
- Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
- Persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" feelings
- Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
Removing the Stigma
The unfortunate demise of Robin Williams can hopefully help to remove the negative stigma associated with depression. Depression is brain disease no different than any other illness such as heart disease. People who are depressed are not crazy nor should they be judged for not feeling better when they simply can't. With proper treatment clinically depressed individuals can be helped and the dark cloud of pain and suffering they endure can be alleviated.
Helping the Depressed Person
When someone in your life is depressed or talks about suicide they should be taken seriously. The best way to approach someone who suffers from depression is to be a true friend. Don't attempt to "fix" them or try to convince them that their depression is "not that bad" or that they should "look at the bright side". Instead, be a good listener. You can approach them and say something like, "You seem a bit down lately. Is everything all right?". When they answer you, tune into what they say and provide empathic statements such as, "What you just told me sounds like a very difficult thing to be going through". The more you can listen and be supportive, the more likely they will feel understood and less alone. Of course, if either you or someone you know is clinically depressed, seeking the help of a Los Angeles psychotherapist is crucial as severe depression seldom goes away without treatment.
If you would like to discuss therapy or are interested in telephone sessions, call today for a Free 15 Minute Introductory Telephone Consultation.
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