Depression is an illness that affects many levels of health. We tend to think first of the drastic changes in mood and vitality: hopelessness, lost energy, confused thinking, broken self-esteem, paralysis of will – and thoughts of suicide. Those symptoms are devastating enough, but even they do not give a full picture of depression’s impact. It is not only a “mental” illness but one that interferes with the functioning of the human body in many ways. The brain and central nervous system, the heart and blood vessels, the immune system, our bones – there is growing evidence of the links between depression and diseases affecting all these.
This section brings together posts about the full range of symptoms linked to depression and how they can affect daily living. Hopefully, that material will help you identify all the changes you may be experiencing. This knowledge, in turn, can set the stage for choosing the treatments that are most relevant to your life.
It took me a long time to understand the connection between depression and anger. One psychiatrist I visited would often ask a simple question toward the end of a session: How’s your anger? I couldn’t understand why he asked. I hadn’t been talking about anger. Depression was my problem. I’d usually respond with a puzzled, Fine. I’d leave his office wondering why he had asked about anger but soon put it out of my mind. […]
Just as I was thinking I understood the full range of depression’s impact on my life, I started finding out about links between the mood disorder and some nasty physical problems. I mentioned in this post the prevalence of pain among depressed people seeking treatment from their regular doctors. But depression can do a lot more to your body than inflict pain. It has been linked to coronary heart disease, congestive heart failure, diabetes and […]
Lately, I’ve come across a number of questions online by plainly anguished people, asking: Why do I have no friends, no life? The first time I saw one this blunt, I reacted almost defensively, laughing as I recalled an old film in which a man hires a private detective to find out why he has no friends. Isn’t it obvious? But I knew so well how much the question implied. Lonely and depressed, I had […]
Like so many, I experience depression in various forms, yet each in its own way knocks out the decision control center in my mind. At times, I scramble in anxiety and can’t focus enough to pick out one among many possibilities. At other times, I don’t care about choosing – or anything else for that matter – and I let the alternatives fall where they may. Or I make all kinds of decisions, even life […]
It may seem strange to pose this question: is it loneliness or is it depression? After all, many people feel loneliness at the loss or weakening of close relationships because of depression, and most of us who’ve lived with the condition over a lifetime experience those broken connections as some of its worst effects. On the other hand, lots of lonely people are not depressed – sad, most likely, but not necessarily experiencing the classic […]
What do I really deserve from life? That’s a question that comes up online a lot, even if it’s only implied. And the dismaying but common answer is often: not much. It always saddens me to read that, but it’s never surprising. Those of us who’ve lived with depression for a while know that the first thing to go is self-esteem. I lost it early on and formed the habit of tearing myself down, focusing […]
Susan and Dano have presented in comments here two different ideas about isolation that I need to explore more deeply, with your help. This is hard for me to pin down alone. My mind wants to wander, to lose focus, to put itself to sleep because this gets at something I don’t want to face – so bear with me as I try to chain together a few thoughts about what is happening in the […]
Part of my recovery consists of putting two and two together. I’ve learned to see links between things I’ve done and felt that I never knew were connected to depression. Blowing up in rage, feeling extreme anxiety, even panic at meeting a group of new people, deep fears and fantasies, memory loss – understanding that all of those problems fitted in with depression was surprising but also comforting. That painful barrage of living began to […]