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Let's Talk About Depression

Depression can impact men, women and children alike. People who are depressed feel extremely overwhelmed with life and find it difficult to carry on with normal daily activities. While everyone sooner or later will feel "blue" or "sad", the key is to keep these feelings in check, so that they do not lead to depression or thoughts of suicide.

Major symptoms of depression include: loss of interest in regular activities; feeling down/hopeless/worthless; unexplained crying; problems sleeping; trouble focusing or concentrating; difficulty making decisions; unintentional weight gain or loss; feeling fatigued or weak; irritability; restlessness; loss of interest in sex; suicidal thoughts or behaviours; and unexplained physical ailments, such as back pain or headaches.

The five major types of depression are: clinical depression, where the person feels down all the time; dysthymic disorder, a mild form of depression characterized by relatively short-term sadness (one to two years); unspecified depression, where the person doesn't know why they are depressed; adjustment disorder with depression, involving the inability to cope with a life-changing event; and bipolar depression, characterized by alternating periods of happiness and extreme sadness.

It is important to recognize when you become depressed, so that you can take action. People tend to respond to depression in either a positive or a negative way, with examples of positive responses being journaling, regular exercise and joining a support group, and instances of negative reactions being drinking alcohol and isolating oneself. At first, you might be in denial and feel that you are not depressed, or you might be embarrassed to tell loved ones and your doctor that you are experiencing depression. You might even think that you are alone, but it is important to realize that you are not and that help is available.

After you recognize that you are depressed, you need to seek out treatment. The three main treatments for depression are medication, cognitive therapy (where the person speaks with a therapist about their depression and develops problem-solving skills), and a combination of medication and therapy. It is important to sit down with your doctor and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each option, and then select the best treatment method for you. And there is hope in treatment options. Through personal experience with depression, I feel that the sooner a person gets back to a normal routine (getting back on the horse, so to speak), the better off that person will be, and eventually the depression will pass.

There is a limited amount of quality research on depression among people who are blind or partially sighted, but one study found that people with restricted vision have a 50% chance of becoming depressed, compared with those who are not blind. Thus, it is very important that those with any type of vision impairment receive some kind of rehabilitation training--in activities of daily living, orientation & mobility, and low vision aids--and counselling, so that they can concentrate on, or return to, living their lives. For more information, contact your local blindness-related rehabilitation agency.

Resources


CNIB: 1929 Bayview Ave., Toronto, ONM4G 3E8; Phone: 1-800-563-2642; Website: http://www.cnib.ca

Depression Canada: http://www.depressioncanada.com

The Mood Disorders Association of British Columbia: Phone: (604) 873-0103; Email: mdabc@telus.net; Website: http://www.mdabc.ca/index.php

The Mood Disorders Association of Manitoba Limited (MDAM): Toll-free: 1-800-263-1460; Email: sdmd@depression.md.ca

The Mood Disorders Association of Ontario: Phone: (416) 486-8046; Toll-free: 1-888-486-8236; Website: http://www.mooddisorders.on.ca/

REVIVRE-Association québecoise de soutien aux personnes souffrant de troubles anxieux, dépressifs ou bipolaires: Phone: (514) 529-7552; Email: revivre@revivre.org; Website: http://www.revivre.org

Health Canada: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/iyh-vsv/diseases-maladies/depression-eng.php

Canadian Mental Health Association: http://www.cmha.ca

Talk to your family physician.

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