Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Comments on the Comments

Hi readers! You know what makes my day? Comments. I love it when you guys share your experiences and points of view. So in the comments on the last post Zen said this:

Depression needs to be seen more like an unfit neurotransmitter response, much as obesity is unfit muscle response or insulin response. I say this, because right now, it sounds like a mental inherent deficiency, rather than something that can be either weakened or corrected . . .I [think] that being depressed is another issue entirely - and has little to do with success in work, or dating or anything.

I really appreciated his sentiments but I want clarification on some of it. I absolutely agree that depression is an illness like diabetes or heart disease. Our bodies are incredibly complicated--especially those neurotransmitters!--and depression happens when one of those neurotransmitters misfires and throws the system off. Until the neurotransmitters get back on target the depression continues--which is where treatment comes in. Depression is an illness and it does have treatment options.

The part where things get confusing is the second part of the comment: depression has little to do with success in work and dating and anything? Maybe I'm misunderstanding what Zen meant, but in my mind environmental factors have a lot to do with depression! If you are in a relationship that is high-stress or dysfunctional, you can end up, well, depressed. If you are in a dead end job, or even a job you love that is extremely demanding, you can end up depressed. Sin can contribute to depression, but so can feeling too burdened by church responsibilities. Of course, whether or not your depression will be a chronic problem or not depends on the individual, just like whether or not a certain job or relationship will trigger depression is an individual issue. But it gets sticky trying to figure out what is the biochemical response and what are the environmental factors. And that doesn't even address any spiritual issues a person may be having.

So here's my question for you all: How do you tell the difference between what is environment and what is chemical? Untreated depression is so overwhelming, how do you begin to deal with it?

5 comments:

Gypsy said...

I believe over time you(at least I did) learn to recognize what is situation depression and chemical depression. For example, if nothing slightly life altering has happened in my life and I suddenly feel depressed, anxious, short tempered. It is probably a good chance my prescription needs to be changed. Thankfully, I haven't had to call my psy-nurse for a while to get a change.

Also, if there is a change in routine or something larger happens, like a death, illness, over due bills, major car repair etc. And you feel depressed. It is probably situational. I have found that knowing the difference is important. Because you know the source of the depression and then you can go about finding ways to resolve it.

Charlotte said...

Our genetic expression is profoundly influenced by our environment. I think it is almost impossible to separate our biology from our circumstances. Which is why proper treatment is so important! If you know you have a predisposition to depression (and heaven knows I do) then you know to take action before it overtakes your life.

Maryam said...

I have learned that that difficult environmental situations absolutely alter the biochemical balance. A few years ago I was under an extreme amount of stress and fatigue. My husband was working all day, every day. He'd leave before we got up and get home after the kids were in bed. Month after month like this wore on me and I found myself in a mental/biochemical state that I could no longer control.
I went to see a therepist because I was so sick of constantly feeling like a vigorously boiling pot of water with the lid about ready to blow off at any time... I learned great skills and also learned that this new weakness in my usually even kilter psyche was due to the stress of parenting two little ones under two constantly alone.
I'm glad I was able to regulate it all and feel much better today.
PS, happy ending to the story...with his new job, husband is home every evening. I came home from a church meeting last night to him drying dishes and a pile of folded laundry. Ahhh....

Mary Lou said...

I think that even though it is biological, if we have external stresses we can work on those coping the best we can, knowing that it won't change the biolgical, but will make life easier to bear. Change the things you can, while enduring (with prayer and patience) the things that you can't change. And like maryam said we can learn "great skills." Everything is spiritual isn't it? God who made us certainly understands us and loves us through the good times and the bad times.

Laura said...

Good points you all! I think it does take time and some outside help (like a therapist and prayer) to gain the insight and the skills necessary to manage this condition. You guys are so wise!