Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Clinical Depression: A Biologically Based Disease

If you think you have depression, or have been diagnosed with depression it is important to understand this disease. Depression is a physical illness that expresses itself in psychological ways. The longer depression goes untreated the greater toll the disease takes on the brain. Studies show that the hippocampus, an area of the brain that plays a role in memory, is smaller in patients with depression than in non-depressed patients. Also, not treating depression right away can have a major impact on the lives of those that it affects. It interferes with an individuals ability to develop meaningful social relationships, to enjoy life and to attain goals in education and career.

See this video for the evidence in research:

I believe that one of the biggest barriers to receiving treatment or being diagnosed in the first place is the stigma that depression carries with it in society. If a person had diabetes they would take insulin, wouldn't they? If an individual had any other physical condition that had a medication that would treat it and make the patient feel better and function normally, would they not do what they could to receive the proper treatment and follow through with it? No one would think to question the need to take medication to treat many physical illnesses, but there is still a question regarding the treatment of depression.

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) as a treatment for Depression

The above clips were from a PBS documentary called "This Emotional Life" and this, I believe, was episode 2. I watched this episode today and I highly recommend not only watching this episode but the entire series to deepen your understanding of depression and  a whole range of human emotions. The goal is to enlighten ourselves so that we can better understand the struggles of those around us and even our own struggles as we live our lives as human beings. We all want to be happy, but sometimes it just takes a little work. Okay I'll rephrase that, often it takes a lot of work!


  1. Coming from one who suffered years of depression thinking it was an age related issue, I certainly can appreciate everything you have to say in your post -- but there are a few things I'd like to just mention.
    Not only does depression stagnate your life ans sap all inspiration from you, but if you don't get treatment it can morph into bipolar 2 illness, they are finding, and that is an even more serious mental health problem. That is what happened to me.
    Lastly, when you say we all want to be happy but need to work at it, sometimes that work includes just getting to a good psychiatrist. My experience is that you become "dug in" so deep in your hole that even going to see a doctor takes on a job of mammoth proportions. Or, you simply may not even care enough about yourself to WANT to make a change. So when you say it requires more work, I would suggest enlisting a family member or somebody you trust just to help you get to a doctor. Anti-depressants worked miracles for me, and it wasn't until I became "un"-depressed that I realized how sick I had become, because I turned to alcohol to try and relieve the pain -- which made the whole illness worse!

  2. Thanks for sharing this Tom. I am sure many people reading this can relate to your experience, myself included. It really does feel like work just to take care of yourself, to have a shower, brush your teeth, let alone getting yourself to a psychiatrist or medical or mental health professional. It is a very dangerous condition and many people do try to self medicate with drugs, alcohol etc...I wish you well and continued health as you continue your journey through life.

  3. LadeeBee thank you so much for all of your musings on depression and crafting, I'm there!! I have struggled with depression all of my adult life and have turned to crafting, baking, cooking, and walking all as means to help get out of my depression. Getting small crafts finished is a good way to boost your sense of accomplishment and worth and doing simple crafts has been a great way to help myself. I also need medication but as you said in a previous post, we wouldn't expect a diabetic to 'just get over it' with his/her diabetes and one cannot expect someone to 'just get over' their depression without medical intervention, either. It's taken a long time to come to that conclusion and really keep it in my heart because we are such a 'pick yourself up by your bootstraps' type of society.

    Thank you again for your thoughtful posts - keep right on with your crafting and blogging! With best wishes and blessings.

  4. Thanks so much for your words of support Sue and letting me (and others) know that you are there. You are quite right that we collectively take an attitude of "pick yourself up by your bootstraps" often and it is seen as a virtue. Maybe in certain situations it is, but when it comes to depression - it simply isn't the answer. I am glad that you have found strategies for being well and living your life fully.
    On another note, it has been a while since I last published a blog post and I think you've inspired me to get back to it! For that I say "thank-you".



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