Depression in the School and Workplace
Book : 'Coping with Depression and Elation'
Courtesy of Prof. Patrick Mc Keon, M.D
Depression in the School and Workplace
Good health is an essential ingredient for a happy and successful life. Illnesses come in many forms, but one of the most disabling is depression. Statistics show that the number of teenage suicides is on the increase. This is worrying considering that depression is a successfully treatable illness. Depression can strike at any age and it is estimated that up to 5 per cent of the population at any one time can suffer from this illness. Early symptoms include undue tiredness, slowed thinking with poor concentration, loss of enthusiasm progressing to apathy, and a sense of despair. Indecision is the rule and gloomy thoughts of the past dominate. Suicide is the saddest outcome of a very treatable illness. Some 15 per cent of those with a depressive illness actually take their own lives. Even though the sufferers realise they are depressed, the negative thinking of depression may stop them getting help. Three out of four sufferers hide their depression from employers, supervisors and colleagues.
Depressive illness is not just the "blues" or the "ups and downs" of everyday life. It is an overpowering feeling which dulls thinking, mood and concentration, saps energy and interest in food, work and everyday activities and disrupts sleep. Without treatment it can last for months, years or forever. Effective psychotherapies ( talking treatment ) and non-habit forming antidepressant medications are now available. Some of the sufferers in the past were Abraham Lincoln, Virginia Woolf, Eugene O'Neil, Beethoven, Charles Dickens, Leo Tollstoy, Vincent Van Gogh, Ernest Hemingway, Michelangelo, Winston Churchill, Robert Schumann to mention a few. Depression and elation are probably the oldest recorded mental illnesses and have been described in the Old Testament and in the works of Homer and Hippocrates.
There are several types of depression. REACTIVE DEPRESSION can follow a major loss such as death of a spouse or child, unexpected financial difficulties, or redundancy. Typically a sufferer will feel low, anxious and often angry and irritable, tends to be at a low ebb in the evenings and has difficulty getting off to sleep. His mind is preoccupied with thoughts that just will not go away, he often overeats and tends to find refuge in sleep. PERSONALITY-based DEPRESSION happens to people, who have a poor self-image or who depend too much on others for advice or emotional support, often following a minor loss. Here the degree of the depression is proportionate to the extent of the loss and the personality vulnerability. ENDOGENOUS DEPRESSION (meaning internal ) is a chemical imbalance in the brain which has no apparent cause and often runs in families. It is also referred to as unipolar depression. In its pure form the sufferer is unable to account for his mood change as it hits him out of the blue, he is impervious to good news and is generally more distraught than the sufferer of reactive depression. MANIC DEPRESSION is also a biochemical illness with a genetic basis in which bouts of depression lasting weeks or months alternate with periods of elation or mania. As it has two phases, highs and lows, it is also known as bipolar disorder.
ELATION or MANIA, the opposite of depression, although usually pleasurable, often has a more devastating effect on a person's life. What makes it particularly serious is that the afflicted individual is usually at first quite unaware of his abnormal mood and simply feels uncharacteristically zestful and enthusiastic. Accompanying this euphoric state, the person finds their thoughts speeded up or racing. Rapid thinking in turn leads to quick talking and hurried activity. Speeding recklessly while driving, walking with a sense of urgency and, all in all racing against the clock, are characteristic of elation.
Symptoms of Depression
Symptoms of Elation
Note : If you suffer from some or all of the above symptoms then you should see your doctor.
Reference : 'Coping with Depression and Elation' by Prof. Patrick McKeon, M.D., Aware, Leeson Street, Dublin 2.
Aware Website : www.aware.ie
NOTE : The use of illegal drugs can result in a criminal record.
Courtesy of Irish Health Promotion Unit.