Friday, January 27, 2012

Mental Health: depression

Depression and anxiety are examples of mood changes. A mood is a "persuasive and sustained emotion that, in the extreme, markedly colors the perception of the world". (APA 1994)
Rational thought is usually absent from the mind during a state of depression. A condition of helpless stupor replaces cognitive abilities. Most people experience a normal lowering of mood in response to stressful life events. They are able to work through the crisis and begin feeling "better" prior to the depressed state.

Those who cannot pull themselves out of the depressed state are effected in ways that rational behavior is replaced by explosive outbursts, impairment of social situations, anxiety, increased sleep or lack there of, etc. It is then that medical treatment must intervene either with or both, medication and counseling. Depression left untreated will cause other mental illness problems such as bi-polar disorder, personality disorders, chronic depression, etc., in addition to physical health care issues.

Emotional disturbance is a product of irrational or illogical thinking.  According to cognitive therapist, Dr. Aaron T. Beck of the Beck Institue of Cognitive Behavior Therapy, he found that "depressed persons process information in negative ways even in the midst of positive factors affecting the person's life". Dr. Beck believes 3 automatic negative thoughts are responsible for people becoming depressed. These 3 thoughts are called Beck's cognitive triad:
     1. a negative, self-depreciating view
     2. a pessimistic view of the world
     3. belief that negative reinforcement or no validation for the self will continue in the future

These automatic negative thoughts refer to thoughts that are repetitive and not readliy controllable. These thoughts continually validate the overall view of negativity towards self and others. A depressed person sees the world as gray. Facial expressions relfect sadness and dejection and often look older than acutal age. Therapy will help you reset your pattern of negative thinking into a more positive healthy one. 

To make matters worse, emotional abuse may be a factor to depression. Characteristics of an abuser are but not limited to:
     1. a sense of being valued and cared for never develops
     2. tremendous needs for love and security are left unfulfilled.
     3. others are sought to fill the void for love and acceptance
 When these unrealistic demands go unmet, feelings of rejection and anger are mobilized. Rage and poor impulse control are then projected in public or private view within the home. Conflict Intervention in Socail and Domestic Violence. Bowie, MD: Robert J. Brady Company, 1981.

Mental health issues are very real and very serious. The importance of getting the proper intervention to your specific illness is essential for overall general health. Mental health illness takes time to treat and may last over a lifetime. You may find yourself trying several types of different anti-depressants until you and your physician see a significant improvement in your disorder. The medication treatment regime can be taxing until you find the right prescription drug that benefits you. Discuss mood changes, eating alterations, behavior changes, bowel or bladder changes with your physician at each follow up visit.

Good health,
Trisha M. Pacenti RN,BSN