Natural Antidepressant/Depression Help
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Can you inherit depression?
A diagnosis of depression can leave the patient wondering what he did to deserve the illness. Of course, no one deserves to be depressed. But what caused depression to develop is a legitimate question.
Doctors have known for some time that family members of those with clinical depression have an increased likelihood of developing the illness themselves. But the reasons behind the trend weren't always clear. In fact, only recently have doctors begun to understand how depression can run in families.
Genetics play a stronger role in some types of depression than others. Studies have shown that children and siblings of those with major depression are one and a half to three times more likely to develop the same illness than those without depression in their immediate families. The genetic factor is more prominent for bipolar disorder. Half of all bipolar individuals have a parent who has been diagnosed with clinical depression.
It's important to note, however, that there's more to the story than genetics. Even if you are genetically predisposed to depression, there's no guarantee that it will develop. Doctors believe that environmental factors play a large part in the development of depression, even in those who have a family history of it.
Some researchers believe that genes are not the only factors that cause depression to run in families. Studies have also indicated that there may be certain aspects of family life that can trigger depression. Cases of child abuse and neglect have been proven to contribute to depression in the victim later in life. But it's also been suggested that members of families that undergo lots of stress might be more likely to become depressed.
The link between sleep disorders and depression
The depressed are no strangers to sleepless nights. In fact, insomnia is one of the most common symptoms of depression. For those who lie awake for hours after going to bed or wake up far too early in the morning, depression could very well be the culprit.
But not everyone who is depressed has trouble getting enough sleep. A small percentage of depression sufferers sleep too much. This is most common among those with atypical depression.
It seems to work the other way, too. Those who have sleep disorders appear to be more prone to depression. In a study conducted by researchers from the University of Madison- Wisconsin, it was determined that patients with sleep disorders were about twice as likely as those without sleep disorders to suffer from depression.
Treating those who have depression and sleep disorders can be tricky, because it is often hard to tell which problem is causing which (or if they are occurring independently). However, studies have shown that successful treatment of sleep problems can lessen the severity of depression in most cases.
It's also possible that an underlying medical condition could be causing both depression and sleep abnormalities. Hypothyroidism, for instance, can be the cause of both of these and many more symptoms. When the thyroid hormones are put back into balance, the symptoms lessen, and possibly even disappear.
When you're suffering from depression and a sleep disorder, it is crucial to address both problems. If you don't, you could end up in a vicious cycle. Taking care of the depression but not addressing the sleep disorder could lead to the depression making a comeback, and vice versa.
People teased 44-year-old Doug for his logical mind, but little did they know Doug’s outwardly calm interior was masking depression and deep anguish. Raised by indifferent, work-obsessed parents and an emotionally (and sometimes physically) abusive grandfather, he had learned always to be the perfect little adult, catching his mother’s attention only when he trotted out impressive facts.
As an adult, he married an affectionate, outgoing girl – and then spent the rest of their marriage criticizing her “over-emotional” behavior; mirroring – had he but realized it – his grandfather’s negative, critical behavior towards him during his childhood.
Doug was suffering from severe chronic depression, but he himself did not know it. He reported his life as always being “grey and pointless”, as far back as he could remember. He had developed a persona that acted as an effective mask for his symptoms. Doug could not even accept affection from his wife – though he dearly wanted and needed it.
When his wife finally persuaded him to accompany her to counseling, Doug spent the first three sessions talking about her “inappropriate” behavior. In Doug’s eyes, he himself was perfect, and his wife’s faults were the cause of all their problems. However, it didn’t take their counselor long to understand that the real problem was Doug’s childhood of abuse and emotional deprivation. The counselor understood both his severe depression and inability accept anything less than perfection from himself – or others.
At a private session which the counselor – with great difficulty – initiated, it all came pouring out. For the first time since early childhood, Doug cried, and confessed his deep unhappiness, as well as his anger and resentment towards his narcissistic, indifferent mother, the center of his childhood household. Frightened by and ashamed of this release of emotion, he abruptly stopped attending the counselling sessions.
How had Doug reached the age of 44 without anyone but his long-suffering wife cluing on to the fact that he had a deep problem?
Part of this may lie in the tendency of men to “mask” depression and hide it, whereas women are far more open to seeking support and expressing their feelings. This may seem like a sexist assumption, but according to Doug’s counselor, it’s a scenario that has been played out again and again.
Another reason everyone missed Doug’s despair: He had been able to function outwardly, attending his job like clockwork, proud of being utterly dependable. At home, however, his withdrawal was noticeable. He spent most of his time in the basement, obsessively playing computer games, angry at all attempts to get him to participate in any social occasions with his wife and children; or even just to “come upstairs and watch TV with us.”
Doug had no friends, didn’t attend church and his frustrated wife could barely get him to engage in conversation without his displaying irritation. “I feel like I’m always interrupting something important,” she confessed, during their first counseling session.
Another atypical depression symptom exhibited more by men than women: anger. Unlike his grandfather, however, Doug prided himself on keeping his emotions “under control”. He genuinely had no conception that his constant coldness and disapproval was having a damaging effect on his wife and children.
Doug’s real problem was typical of thousands of men and women – chronic depression, caused by early childhood abuse. However, he managed to mask it better than many.
Doug was resistant to taking anti-depressants and, after abandoning the counseling sessions, lapsed back into his old habits. He is now unemployed, crushed by the loss of his job and completely supported by his wife, who has “given up” trying to get him to help himself. She loves and accepts him as he is – but now she, too, is suffering from chronic depression, which most of the time she masks cheerfully. She has resumed her own sessions with their former counselor, who sees them as “co-dependent and dysfunctional.” Doug’s wife admits this, but still feels she has no choice but to stay in the relationship.
This is not a happy story of triumph over depression, but there is still hope for Doug – if he ever resumes treatment. Sometimes, events and patterns from our childhood have great power over us. These are the hardest dysfunctional habits to let go of, and we become unusually adept at masking them - or rationalizing why we cling to depression and harmful behaviors.
If you have seen yourself in this story, I urge you to be persistent. Take responsibility for your depression, and seek treatment. It will not feel comfortable and I’ll warn you right now, it will be the hardest challenge you’ll ever have to face… but if you are able to persevere through treatment, you will come out on the other side, and gain a joy you’ve never before experienced.
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