by Joan-Marie Moss
IT'S NOT A
CASE OF BUZZ WORDS
Depression is not a new
disease of the 20th century. Sufferers are among the elite. Abraham
Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Edgar Allen Poe, Mike Wallace, Joan
Rivers and Dick Cavett are among the many who have been afflicted.
Indications are that those
who are more sensitive, creative and intelligent are more prone
to suffering from depression. One study performed in the '80s found
that 38% of 47 writers, poets and artists had taken medication,
sought psychoanalysis or had been institutionalized for depression
and bi-polar disorder. Another study performed in the 80's showed
that more creative people suffered from emotional strife synonymous
with certain neurosis. (Time-Life Books, 1992)
THE GOOD NEWS
Although the problem appears
to be hopeless, there is good news. If you're going to have an illness,
you want it to be depression. It's the most easily treatable.
The afflicted needs to
work at getting back in balance. Professional counseling, support
groups and the medical profession are learning to work together
to speed recovery.
The medication is a critical
aspect of treatment. The new drugs are marvelous even with the occasional
discomfort of side effects. They work to re-balance the synapses
that are responsible for the transmission of brain impulses.
Social workers and psychiatrists,
too are much more skilled at identifying symptoms today than ever.
Group counseling, support groups and crisis lines are more accessible.
There's help and information out there for those who have the courage
and determination to find it.
Much of the work, says
Barbara Hayes, a licensed clinical social worker who oversees a
12-session group that's been running throughout the summer at Family
Service DuPage, focuses on teaching conitive reasoning techniques.
Those who participate in this therapy learn to evaluate the validity
of their thought processes and to recognize distorted thinking patterns.
Then they learn to restructure their thought processes more positively
and realistically. It's a sort of de-programming that allows individuals
to discover that there are other ways to look at one's life experiences.
Hayes has found this kind of therapy most productive when participants
have the appropriate medical support. She assures her patients that
"using medication is not wimping out." Trying to pull yourself out
of depression without the proper medical attention just doesn't
work, she says. It's like a diabetic telling his pancreas to shoot
insulin into his system, she says.
Editor's Note: If you or anyone you know suffers from depression,
please seek help from a qualified mental health professional.