”We’re so busy evaluating everyone else’s successes and shortcomings that we forget about our own mental health evaluation”
Depression is a real illness.
We all experience times of sadness in our lives. It’s completely normal. In times of struggle, it is a necessary human reaction to feel negative emotions. We all go through this.
The worst part is, the person suffering with mental issues is not the only one who has to go through pain. For loved ones who may struggle to empathise, it is a whole other experience feeling so helpless. Doctors refer to this condition as “depressive disorder,” or “clinical depression.”
It isn’t possible to just ‘cheer up’. Imagine telling a person with a physical illness such as cancer to just ‘snap out of it’. A person with bipolar 1 symptoms needs actual help just as a person showing symptoms of a flu does.
Being depressed is not a choice. It affects how you go about your day.
Signs and Symptoms of Poor Mental Health
Although general sadness is a key indicator in a mental health diagnosis, it is not the only sign. A mental health evaluation can be made easier if you spot any of the following:
- Chronic unhappy, paranoid, or “dark” emotions
- Feelings of negativity and sadness
- Diminished enthusiasm in hobbies and activities
- A lapse in energy levels and signs of persistent fatigue
- Poor concentration and making decisions
- Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
- Appetite and/or weight changes
- Constant thoughts of death or suicide, suicide attempts
Factors That Affect Your Mental Health Evaluation
There are a huge number of things that can trigger a decline in your mental health. Your mental health evaluation means constantly recognising external factors influencing your daily mood.
Sometimes there may be a death in the family, it’s ok to be upset. Sometimes it is a traumatic childhood experience, it is ok to look back in anger. Every day there are stressful scenarios we must overcome. It is OK to be stressed.
But you must recognise these factors as things you have no control over. It is normal for your emotions to change but your base level of happiness should remain the same.
It is entirely possible for something like schizophrenia disorder to coincide with other serious medical illnesses such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and Parkinson’s disease. Poor mental health is likely to make these conditions worse and vice versa. In particular cases, medications taken for these illnesses may cause side effects that only lead to difficulty fighting depression.
There are projects ongoing in the research for learning more about how to treat these mental illnesses. There are several great Irish depression forums but for more information visit the NIMH website at www.nimh.nih.gov.
Types of Depression
There are several types of depressive disorders.
Major depression: Severe symptoms that interfere with the ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy life. An episode can occur only once in a person’s lifetime, but more often, a person has several episodes.
Persistent depressive disorder: A depressed mood that lasts for at least 2 years. A person diagnosed with persistent depressive disorder may have episodes of major depression. This is along with periods of less severe symptoms, but symptoms must last for 2 years.
Psychotic depression, which occurs when a person has severe depression plus some form of psychosis. Such as having disturbing false beliefs or a break with reality, or hearing or seeing upsetting things that others cannot hear or see (hallucinations).
Another form of depression that a lot of men simply cannot get their head’s around is:
Postpartum depression: which is much more serious than the “baby blues” that many women experience after giving birth. It is estimated that 10 to 15 percent of women experience postpartum depression after giving birth.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is characterised by the onset of depression during the winter months. When there is less natural sunlight. The depression generally lifts during spring and summer. SAD may be effectively treated with light therapy. But nearly half of those with SAD do not get better with light therapy alone. Antidepressant medication and psychotherapy can reduce SAD symptoms, either alone or in combination with light therapy.
Bipolar disorder is different from depression. The reason it is included in this list is because someone with bipolar disorder experiences episodes of extreme low moods (depression). But a person with bipolar disorder also experiences extreme high moods (called “mania”).
Do Men Get Depressed Easier Than Women?
While there is not a different mental health policy when it comes to the mental health evaluation of men, we do often experience depression differently than women. Depression in women in a lot of cases involve them experiencing negative emotions such as negativity and sadness along with hopelessness and anxiety, us men experience slightly different symptoms.
With regards to mental issues, males seem to have trouble getting good amounts of sleep at night. A man is more likely to lose interest in their occupation and hobbies, and in a lot of cases turn to addictions.
Figures released by a suicide prevention organisation have shown that men are almost five times more likely to die by suicide in Ireland compared to women.
The National Suicide Research Foundation’s Annual Report shows that overall, 375 males and 76 females had died by suicide in 2015.
Rates of male suicide stayed much higher than female rates across all age brackets. The group with the highest rate of suicide were males aged 25-34 and 45-54.
Although the report showed that rates of suicide are falling steadily year-on-year. The rate of suicide amongst the 25-34 age bracket for 2015 has increased compared to 2014.
Tests and Diagnosis
While there are some really good depression tests online, it is easy to do your own mental health evaluation by simply monitoring your daily base level of happiness. Practice gratitude every time you walk under a doorway. It might sound silly, but by doing this you are creating a mental trigger. How many times do you walk through a door each day?
You are lucky to be alive. If you are going through tough times, it is normal to want help. Say it to someone, anyone.
Think You Have Depression?
Call the 24-hour, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or go to www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
SJB & GQ.