WHAT’S BUZZIN’: Security circle, not safety net

By Nana Ramsey
The Scene staff

Depression comes in many forms and varieties. It can range from minor, with no need for treatment, to major, requiring serious medical and personal intervention.

There are about 10 types of depression that have been identified.

On the minor end is adjustment disorder, which can come on with stress or death of a loved one.

On the major side is bipolar disorder, causing people to have extreme ups and downs and possibly become suicidal. They also tend to have some form of anxiety disorder, as well.

There is no small depression; all depression can be debilitating at times.

Depression can come on suddenly, and it’s not the person’s fault. He or she is just wired differently and has heightened emotional states, some worse than others.

Companies regularly advertise antidepressants on TV and elsewhere. But these medications are better suited for severe depression, since many who have been diagnosed don’t have histories of manic behavior like those who are bipolar.

Other treatment methods are available for different disorders, such as light therapy for seasonal depression.

Non-pharmaceutical treatment is common for women who have postpartum depression, according to the Cochrane Depression, Anxiety and Neurosis Group, an international not-for-profit organization based in England.

Journaling, meditation, exercise are all forms of non-pharmaceutical treatments recommended by therapists.

Atypical depression is generally defined as depression that shares many of the symptoms of major depression but is characterized by improved mood in response to positive events.

Then there is melancholic depression, a subtype of clinical depression with at least one of the following symptoms: Anhedonia or the inability to find pleasure in positive things and lack of mood reactivity, i.e. mood does not improve in response to positive events.

Atypical depression and melancholic depression don’t require medication, but therapy should probably be a constant for those diagnosed.

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder affects 3 to 8 percent of women, according Dr. Andrea Rapkin, an OB/GYN practicing in Los Angeles, and it requires both hormone therapy and antidepressants.

Out of all of these, bipolar disorder is the trickiest to treat because of extreme mood swings.

Mood stabilizers are often used with antidepressants and sometimes other medications to keep people in a stabilized condition.
People who have depression, especially those with bipolar disorder, sometimes find it hard to talk about it. There’s an ever-lingering fear that people will pity them or avoid them.

I have this fear daily. I worry that people will look down at me if they find out that I have this disease.

Every day is a struggle to stay sane, to keep negative and sometimes suicidal thoughts at bay, to just function at my best.
Bipolar disorder causes a constant battle in my head, between wanting to survive day-to-day life and wanting to quit everything and curl up in a ball.

So, what’s the point in all this? It’s to raise awareness that the inner battles that people with depression fight every day make their lives harder, but those willing to fight are survivors.

Most forms of depression are genetic, making a person up to 80 percent more likely to have inherited it from family.

Normal life is hard enough, and people like me have added challenges. But I try to look at it as something that fuels my creativity.

The worst part, in my opinion, is when other people treat us differently. They tend to walk on eggshells and behave as if we’re going to snap at any moment.

This can be a downer for us and even create a change in atmosphere that’s unsettling.

If anything, I would ask that people treat us normally. Don’t give us special treatment. We need a security circle, not a safety net. Those of us who have accepted our illness have already created net in case we slip.

Having friends and family we can confide in and not worry about them worrying about us helps a lot.

Bottom line: If you know someone who has depression of any kind, treat him or her as you would anyone else. It’s important that people still feel like part of society, even if it’s just through friends and family.

Remember, it’s the little things that can make a big difference in a person’s life.