so on, making it possible for psychotherapy and self-help efforts to offer ideas
for coping with the depression and its causes (childhood experiences or
currently distressing situations).
No one should be ashamed of being depressed. But we are. As
Kathy Cronkite (1994) points out, people who openly discuss going to
Betty Ford's Clinic for alcohol abuse will carefully conceal their
depression. About 1 in every 10 of us will be seriously depressed
sometime in our lives. Baby boomers are having even more episodes
of depression, perhaps because the high hopes of the 1960's were
crushed by the economic troubles of the 1970's and beyond.
Remember, there is serious depression which is beyond ordinary
sadness; in this condition you may have no appetite, no pleasure, no
energy, no hope. And, there is being "down" or in a bad mood for a
few days; it may involve crying, social withdrawal, being irritable,
having no ambition, being pessimistic, etc. These two conditions are
probably two different things. Both should be treated but the really
severe major depression must be taken very seriously; 15% kill
themselves, many more attempt it. Depression is not your fault; you
are not a terrible or hopeless person. Unfortunately, 70% of people
suffering depression never seek treatment. Please be among the 30%
who go for help and stay with it. Depression is one of the most
treatable emotional problems--psychotherapy can help you, drugs can,
and you can. Cronkite's (1994) book offers hope by interviewing many
famous people who have overcome the disorder--Dick Clark, Joan
Rivers, Mike Wallace, Rod Steiger, Jules Feiffer, and many others.
Note If your depression is serious (disabling or suicidal), seek
professional help immediately. If you are in therapy or a group, be
sure to tell the therapist how much you are hurting. If not in therapy,
call a therapist or your mental health center. Do not delay by trying to
treat yourself or by hoping you'll get better. Serious depression and
manic-depression seem to have genetic, hormonal, and/or chemical
aspects that are activated by stress and upsetting life events and
thoughts. Thus, when the depression is serious, you always need to be
evaluated by an MD, who will decide if you need medication. You also
need to get psychotherapy.
If your depression is primarily chemical, psychological coping
techniques are useful but not sufficient. Likewise, if your depression
has psychological causes, drugs may be useful but not sufficient. There
is usually no way to tell if your depression is chemical or psychological,
so consider both.