Sunday, November 20, 2011

Depression Spectrum

In another blog I was reading, Three Types of Depression, it became even more clear that we are all traveling a mental health spectrum each day.  Though your depression is not the same as my depression, we do share a similarity or two with each other.

A general term for depression, "the blues", describes a lack of joy and satisfaction that we feel on a daily basis.  We can not seem to find a simple pleasure in anything.  So what do we do? We overcompensate by constantly "one upping" the self in search of a warmth and comfort within.  Bigger and better every time.  A consequence of this is the feeling of pressure to deliver not only to the self, but to the environment around as well including family, friends, and peers.  Low joy and satisfaction.

Many people try to wash away their sorrows in a bottle whether it be alcohol or pills.  They search for the pleasure they lack in life through substances that offer a quick fix to their ailment.  The downside is that once the brain returns to normal, you can hit a low that only worsens the original mood leading to another round of self medicating behaviors.  This cycle eventually interferes with the life routine costing the individual their job, their family, or both.  Self-medicating.

In general, a majority of the population believes that it is the lack of a supportive and loving environment combined with missed opportunity that exacerbates a depressed mood into a mental health issue.  Many depressed individuals do in fact come from very positive environments with an abundance of opportunity and joy to go around.  So why are they depressed?  It is purely a matter of body chemistry, the only fix for it being medication and symptom management.  Intensive psychotherapy can fall short due to the fact that the individual's history is not the primary cause.  However, that is not to say that the person will not have to go to therapy at some point to deal with the impact that the depression has on their environment. Purely brain chemistry.

I find it helpful to understand these types, because we have all experienced a low at one point or another.  Realizing you type be it materialistic conquests, self medication, or should give light to the amount and type of treatment that is most appropriate for you.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Inside Out

I follow a lot of blogs through my Google Reader.  It allows me to preview and engage with the articles that are of interest to me.  This evening as I am sorting through the last few days worth of topics, I came across three topics which in my mind parallel one another in the common thread of the self.
1.  How the actions of parents influence a child
2.  How the teen values happiness internally and externally
3.  How the adult identifies the self within a relationship

Our parents influence every move we make.  Do we behave in accordance with them?  Sometimes yes and sometimes no.  Do we challenge their rearing?  Again, yes and no.  A negative experience with a parent can impact a child on so many levels.  One negative statement by a parent about grades, weight, or even their own matrimonial issues can influence the future of the child.

In my case, the constant pressure to be perfect in school, set the best example for my sibling, and appear competent to everyone else, was a burden to heavy to bear and has impacted how I define my own happiness.  Intrinsic happiness is finding satisfaction, pleasure, and meaning within the self without the reward of materialistic objects--extrinsic happiness.  In other words, if you neglect the intrinsic self, you risk depressive symptoms and anxiety.  The self is left incomplete and thus your extrinsic accomplishments are never fully satisfying.  This can result in a decrease in the quality of interpersonal relationships and disconnect with your external world.

I made a strong effort to identify what intrinsic goals I had, and identified how to achieve them.  In some cases, the self is unable to clarify the need for intrinsic satisfaction.  The external world is seemingly satisfying and there is no immediate need for internal improvement.  As depression, anxiety, and compulsions set in, the relationships begin to decline and self esteem diminishes.

Relationships suffer when extrinsic goals and values become the foundation and livelihood of the interaction.  As a child, achieving perfection in the eyes of a parent.  As a teen, gaining the approval of peers and family.  As an adult, accomplishing a predetermined social expectation at the expense of health and autonomy.

If you find yourself in a relationship with more extrinsic value, ask for help finding your self.  At the expense of the relationship?  Maybe.  At the expense of losing yourself?  That is your choice.  You have to bring the balance back, and it may require an internal swing that allows you to be who you really are.  I do not think that is such a bad thing.

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