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Depression and its tragic toll

August 12th, 2014

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In light of the recent death of Robin Williams, I thought it appropriate to open up a conversation on depression. It is so incredibly sad that a wonderful and caring man, a successful actor and comedian, a loving father and husband, has taken his own life to escape depression.

Robin Williams

It is also not surprising at all that he ended his life to escape the dark, dark, dark hole of depression. There is a saying that heaven and hell are part of this human life and not some mysterious "places" that we go to after we die. It is indeed within this human and physical life that we can experience hell or heaven, and both of those places are not outside of ourselves but deep inside.

Depression is exactly that: a place of hell, where there is no light, no hope, no meaning; and the longer someone stays in that place, the worst it gets. The problem with this condition is that many times it goes undiagnosed, either because its intensity is mild to moderate (like in chronic depression, dysthymia, etc) or because people do not seek proper help.

Depression in men is a much bigger problem. For centuries men had been expected to toughen up, to hide their sadness, to repress their tears, to be brave and strong, etc. etc. and all of that conditioning and learned behavior has made men much more disconnected from their own bodies and feelings, which is a very serious handicap, especially when facing depression.

Here below is an excerpt of an article from Helpguide.org, which sums it up well:

"Unfortunately, men are far less adept at recognizing their symptoms than women. A man is more likely to deny his feelings, hide them from himself and others, or try to mask them with other behaviors. The three most common signs of depression in men are:

  • Physical pain. Sometimes depression in men shows up as physical symptoms—such as backache, frequent headaches, sleep problems, sexual dysfunction, or digestive disorders—that don't respond to normal treatment.

  • Anger This could range from irritability, sensitivity to criticism, or a loss of your sense of humor to road rage, a short temper, or even violence. Some men become abusive, controlling, verbally or physically abusive to wives, children, or other loved ones.

  • Reckless behavior A man suffering from depression may start exhibiting escapist or risky behavior. This could mean pursuing dangerous sports, driving recklessly, or engaging in unsafe sex. They may drink too much, use drugs, or gamble compulsively."

If you wish to read more, you can see the entire article here: Depression in Men, Why It’s Hard to Recognize and What Helps

I have read a lot about happiness, and most of the literature and new scientific discoveries on neuroscience point to the fact that the state of being happy can only be found inside ourselves and it has little to do with our life circumstances, the same goes for sadness and hopelessness, it is a state inside or ourselves.

However, it is important to point out that there is a great difference between feeling sad, frustrated or hopeless (which we all do from time to time) and having clinical depression. A clinically depressed person needs help, and whether it is the use of medication (temporary or in the long term), and/or an effective therapy, it is very important to seek help outside of ourselves and especially outside of our minds!

Also, once the depression lifts or gets better, a deep personal and internal work has to begin in order to keep a healthy mind, so as not to relapse. This inner work is a great responsibility and it takes effort, but it is worthwhile, it will help us to recognize the symptoms early, before they take over again, and it can even help us beat depression for good.

There was a time when mental health was taboo, there was a time where there was NO conversation and NO help for mental problems. Now, luckily, things have changed, but in spite of that, there is still a lot of stigma and denial around this. Too many people are suffering from depression and other forms of mental illnesses that seriously damage their quality of life, so it is time to take responsibility for our mental health and accept our limitations without shame but as an opportunity for growth.

Have a great week!

Related articles:

Taking responsibility for our mental health
The Science behind Happiness


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