Depressed Anonymous

A few days ago, I shared a blog post where I discussed using the 12 step in my own depression fight.

This week I discovered that there is a depression support group that is specifically designed for this:  Depressed Anonymous.  Looking over the site, there’s a lot in common with the AA one, it has links to their 12 Steps, the Serenity Prayer, a pulldown list of Tools for Recovery, a list of Depressed Anonymous Groups by state, and an online SKYPE meeting.  There’s a lot to like here, and I will add this to my personal goto blog list.

My only disappointment is there does not appear to be any local support groups in my area yet.  But, from what I can tell, this organization is relatively new and there’s always the possibility there’s more to come.

Clipart stolen from Clipartmax.

Science, Religion, and Depression

Oh look!  Three subjects that should probably never be discussed together.  Two subjects that probably no one expected to see together on a blog with this title.

If you are an atheist, agnostic, or not of a religious view, give me a few minutes to explain my viewpoint.  My plan is to keep religious discussions to a minimum on this blog.  The nature of one of the articles I found this week, requires some religious discussion.

With the support of a couple of therapists, I have incorporated the 12 Steps and Serenity Prayer, the Prayer of St Francis, and the 5 Directives of Matthew 25 and the Beatitudes from the Bible into my self care plan and my belief system.  I’m not saying it’ll work for everyone, but it works well for me.  I start with “treat people as people” and “treat all people with dignity, not labels”.  I do attend a church and I do art work and alter design work for that church.  That said, I will not use this space to push or oppose any religious viewpoint … except for Scientology.  (I mean come on guys, if you’re going to found a church based on the texts of a sci-fi author, Philip K Dick is a much better choice.)

Unlike most posts, there is a shortage of idiots sciencing on here today.  The first item that I felt I needed to share this week relates a study conducted in the UK, where scientists believe they are on the trail of the genetic origins of depression.  While this is not the first ime I’ve heard of this notion (that was Jonathan Rottenburg’s book The Depths), this article was significant by pointing out that scientists are able to “identify sections of DNA that were common in people with depression and in those who adopted lifestyle behaviors such as smoking”. By identifying this, this study provides “further evidence that depression is partly down to our genetics”.  This further supports the notion that we’ve learned and try to get across that depression is not our fault.  If it’s genetics, that’s even more proof we do not cause our own problems.  The study leads hope that this finding helps mental health experts better “understand why some people are more at risk of depression than others, and how we might help people living with depression and anxiety more effectively in future”.

Now for the religion and mental illness article.  I add a discussion of this article for two reasons,  First, I know all too well how mental illness can be at odds with religious beliefs of a certain church.  As the article points out, “Some religious traditions, coupled with a misunderstanding of mental illness, can stop people from getting mental-health care. Individuals may be told to pray the illness away or trust in God to heal them”.  I’d be shocked if there was someone reading this that hasn’t encountered the “just pray” depression advice.  As the article also states, we often find our depression at odds with “the strict rules of religion and the fear of condemnation from God”.  However, the author and the subject of the article come to the realization that “faith and mental-health treatment can … work together”.  Mental illness is like any other illness, we just need more people to understand that.  And just because, we do have a mental illness, it doesn’t mean we are lost or beyond salvation.  As the great philosopher Bono wrote:

I believe in the Kingdom come
Then all the colors will bleed into one
Bleed into one
But yes, I’m still running
You broke the bonds
and you loosened chains
carried the cross of my shame, of my shame
You know I believe it
Clipart stolen from Clipartmax, KissCC0, and Clipartmax.

Anger as Depression Symptom

NPR posted an article today covering two symptoms of depression that are often overlooked:  anger and irritability.

The article discusses “a strong link between irritability and depression.”  While anger and irritability are not usually listed as symptoms for adaults with depression, “irritability — a reduced control over one’s temper that results in angry outbursts — is listed as a core symptom of depression for children and adolescents.”  [emphasis in the original]

In my case, my original diagnosis for depression, which took place while I was still on active duty was made on the tale end of a period where I experienced bouts with sadness and hopelessness offset by bouts of anger and irritability.  I often found myself irritated by seemingly simple things unrelated to any perceivable cause for irritability.  My anger was misdirected towards many people and things without valid reason.  Fortunately for me, the military psychiatrist recognized the connection.  Unfortunately, the medication that was used to originally treat me left me off-balanced and somewhat dizzy.  At the time, I wasn’t sure what needed to be done, so I just abandoned the medication and tried to drudged through it on my own.

Several years ago, through the Veterans Administration hospital here in St Louis, I self-referred for depression, and was treated by a psychiatrist who better understood the medication issue and prescribed a different one that actually helped.  It still does.

Clipart stolen from Clipartmax.

Marconi Union – Weightless

I forget when I found this article Neuroscience Says Listening to This Song Reduces Anxiety by Up to 65 Percent.  I’m not sure of the published date on the article and I don’t remember when I saved the link.

Does it really work?  I don’t know for sure.  But it is calming and that’s always a plus.

There’s also a 10 hour version linked here if you’re interested.

Depressed Night Owl

Found an interesting article the other day bearing the headline:  Being a Night Owl Really Can Hurt Your Mental Health . Being a night owl by default and being an experienced night shifter by military requirements (I was an aircraft maintainer for seven years), this article definitely caught my attention.

“The researchers … uncovered an apparent causal link between being a night owl and being more prone to depression, anxiety and schizophrenia.”  Meaning those of us who fall into the night owl category are more prone to certain mental health issues.  “This was not dependent on factors such as poor sleep quality or lack of sleep, they found.”  This would indicate the connection is not a result or even a cause of the insomnia  that many of us experience as a symptom of our issues.  If anything, this study would suggest that depression is not our fault, something so many us have a hard time accepting.

The solutions offered to counter our night owl tendencies are very similar to many of the same treatment suggestions that have been suggested by therapists in dealing with my own depression.  Some of the solutions offered include “prepare for sleep by not consuming caffeine in the afternoon and by tuning out of technology at least an hour before going to bed”, “the hour [before bed] with a shower, reading with a dim light, having a conversation, or doing some gentle stretching”, or “a simple mindfulness technique that gets you out of your head and into your breathing and body awareness.”

While this by no means fixes everything, it does offer some useful suggestions that could help us along our way.

Clipart stolen from Clipart Library