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Dealing With Depression
Dark Vortex
the lonely illness that needs more than a little sympathy

Everyone suffers from depression at one time or another. On the surface, it tends to be a condition which can easily be fobbed off - current pressures at home and work, a recent bereavement, or just general tiredness and a feeling of being a little down. At least, this is the impression many sufferers hope to convey when asked why they seem a bit glum, convincing themselves and others that it will sort itself out soon enough. Whether they realise it or not, and the latter is frequently the case, by dismissing these early signs as insignificant, they risk them becoming worse; and if something isn't done to arrest the downward trend, they will eventually find themselves in a very dark and lonely place from which they can see no release.

Depression is a mental illness, and because of the stigma attached to this branch of medicine, the majority of today's society is loath to discuss it. Governments are no better, having the power to do something about the problem, yet merely offering some token contribution when public opinion insists. Then they just dump it back in the too-hard basket. Only those directly affected seem willing to recognise that something is wrong and needs fixing; but the sufferers don't always like to admit that they need help, men especially. As for those close to them, even when they suspect a family member or friend may be displaying symptoms of depression, diplomacy often steps in to prevent the asking of awkward questions. Should they be asked anyway and the response is a rather snappy: "I'm okay. Don't worry about it," the matter is usually dropped. Left to suffer in silence, the person at risk is likely to become increasingly withdrawn. It is almost as if they enjoy being miserable which, of course, is nonsense: they just can't find a reason to be happy, and if one did condescend to appear, they would probably reject it.

They come from all walks of life - professionals, farmers, office and factory workers, the unemployed, school students and even doctors. Many of them look at others in similar positions, see these people are coping with life, then are afraid to concede that they aren't. Patients who do seek treatment soon become dissatisfied and lose confidence in a medical fraternity which gives the impression it doesn't know what it is doing - how can it when remedies, drugs and support programs are switched and changed with little or no apparent success? Unfortunately, depression is a subtle illness that creeps up almost without notice; and it is difficult to recognise as specific because it is made up of many parts - anxiety, paranoia, personality and bi-polar disorders to name a few. Aside from being mental conditions in their own right, each can contribute to depression as well as being a result of it. No wonder it is hard to find a cure - some say there isn't one, not of the permanent kind. Maybe so, but degrees of recovery are possible, given the right care.

Prevention, of course, is better than any cure, but for this to be effective, the symptoms have to be identified when they start appearing. The prospective sufferers may not notice or choose to disregard changes to their normal selves, whereas those who come into regular contact with them will. They may not seem as cheerful, frowning more frequently as they ponder some personal problem which, in turn, makes them less receptive. They begin losing touch with their environment, failing to respond immediately when someone addresses them. In a strange way, they are meditating, withdrawing inside themselves to focus on their own mental issues to the exclusion of anything outside and beyond. At this point they are not yet a patient, just an ordinary person trying to resolve a few hassles that are dogging them. Leaving them to handle this on their own could be deemed the right thing to do, but it doesn't hurt to offer comfort and help. Even if this is refused, simply talking to them in a relaxed way about everyday events that are not particularly confronting may lighten their mood, making them more amicable. Should they react to this attempt at normal conversation in an unexpected manner, particularly a hostile one, it could indicate that their condition is more serious than at first thought.

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