One of the most invincible looking people in Hollywood, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, recently stepped into the spotlight to share his story of contending with depression.
Depression is arguably the foremost mental health issue of the 21st century. An estimated 350,000,000 people worldwide experience this medical illness. In 2016, an estimated 16.2 million U.S. adults experienced at least one major (or clinical) depressive episode. Major depression, the more serious form of depression, is characterized by prolonged feelings of sadness, emptiness, hopelessness, irritability, frustration or anger. Symptoms range, and may include loss of feeling pleasure, early morning waking, extreme negativity, relentless anxiety and frustration, tiredness, and/or reduced appetite, among others.
The encouraging news is that for many people, major depression will diminish or disappear with the right effective pharmacological treatment. However a groundbreaking New York Times article emerged in early April of 2018, eschewing their long-term use. Despite the fact that millions of doctors are prescribing one of over twenty antidepressants such as Prozac and Paxil for durations beyond two years and the long-term effects have not been studied extensively. People are experiencing addiction on an unimagined scale as a direct result of these treatments, and it can take years for people to wean themselves off the drugs. And weening off can be hugely challenging because of the nausea, irritability, cognitive and sleep disturbances due to withdrawal.
Another school of thought promotes psychological interventions for depression. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) focuses on identifying beliefs, feelings and thought patterns that contribute to certain ingrained “thinking traps” such as catastrophizing (magnifying threat) and giving the thoughts better context. Often times, it is merely a perception that dictates how someone chooses to behave. For example, a person may assume that ‘things will not change’ and therefore, may not even try. Recognizing and modifying internal beliefs can change the potential outcome of a situation.
However, barriers to CBT treatment include cost, time of multiple sessions, supply of qualified practitioners, and geographical accessibility. And, of course, some people who experience depression, just don’t want to leave the house and expose their raw psychic pain in person.
The age of technology has heralded many advancements, including the ability to improve outcomes for mood disorders from the comfort of one’s home.
Here are four ways to address depression:
By proactively engaging in treatment, you reduce the cycle of decline that can occur with depression, including your job performance or the quality of your personal relationships. Seeking assistance is a source of strength and not weakness, as ultimately it will improve your well-being.
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