Monday, April 8, 2013

Depression is dangerous



This is not a post that I planned to write. But it’s one that I was compelled to write.

About a dozen years ago, I met with my insurance agent to discuss my policy and to see if any changes needed to be made.
During the visit, he told me about a life insurance policy that was available for people in my age range that was at a low price.
I had life insurance through my employer, but I liked the idea of having extra insurance that I would have regardless of where I was employed, so I filled out the application.
I had to include health information on the application. I was a bit concerned because I had been going through tests to determine if I had asthma, and I had just learned that I indeed had the lung disorder.
On a return visit, my insurance agent told me that I didn’t qualify for the low-cost version of the insurance.
“Is it because of the asthma?” I asked.
He seemed uncomfortable when he spoke.
“No, it’s because of the depression,” he said.
Oh.
Up to that moment, I had not thought about the effects depression might have on my future health. I had not thought about how others might judge my future health based on my having depression.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) website, one risk of suicide is “depression and other mental disorders, or a substance-abuse disorder (often in combination with other mental disorders). More than 90 percent of people who die by suicide have these risk factors.”
Also according to the NIMH website, people’s physical health can be affected by depression: “People who have depression along with another medical illness tend to have more severe symptoms of both depression and the medical illness, more difficulty adapting to their medical condition, and more medical costs than those who do not have co-existing depression. Treating the depression can also help improve the outcome of treating the co-occurring illness.”
And in online reports here and here on studies on life expectancy, I learned that the average life expectancy for people with mental illnesses may be lower than those without mental illness.

Why am I writing about this? Over the weekend, I learned about the suicide of a son of Rick Warren, a well-known evangelical pastor and author. According to one news report, his son had suffered from depression for years. He had received treatment, but he killed himself.
I’m not sure why reading about this young man’s suicide affected me like it did, why it turned my thoughts to my own battle with depression and to others with depression who have suffered so much. I didn’t know him. I know who his father is and I’ve read one of his books. That’s about the extent of my connection.
But the suicide of anyone is tragic. The loss of a person to suicide shouldn’t happen.
I don’t know the details of Matthew Warren’s life.
I’m not a counselor or therapist or expert or medical professional.
I’m someone with depression.

And I know this: depression is dangerous. It is serious. It is not to be taken lightly.

I know something else. I am better off today than I was before treatment.

Treatment can help people with depression. There is always the hope of getting better. Suicide is never the answer.

If you have symptoms of depression, please get help from a professional. Please don’t ignore it or try to self-treat.
And please, if you or someone you know is suicidal, reach out for help. If you don’t know who to reach out to, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273 TALK (8255).

46 comments:

  1. I'm glad that you wrote this post - as depression is something that affects so many people. I remember being there, at the very end of "my rope" and wishing all of my pain would go away. The quote is true, "suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem." There is so much hope for everyone, and more people need to hear that.

    This is one of my favorite reminders: http://twloha.com/vision

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    1. Amanda, depression does affect so many people, those with depression and those who care about them. The message of hope is so important. Thank you for your support and for sharing the link.

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  2. I heard about Rick Warren's son yesterday. So so sad. My thoughts and prayers going out to his family.

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    1. Keith, it is so sad. My prayers are with the family also.

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  3. I read about Rick Warren's son yesterday too. So so sad.

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    1. Lisa, such sadness for him and his family and loved ones.

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  4. I'm saddened that such a young life succumbed to this disease. Thank you for sharing your insights dear. xo

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    1. Nancy, thank you for your comment and understanding.

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  5. That was very moving. And educational. If a person is feeling hopeless, knowing that treatment indeed helps could be a life saver.

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    1. Thank you, Sharon. It is so important for people to know that there are many treatments available and life can get better.

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  6. Very poignant post. Yes, depression is very dangerous.

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Elizabeth. Yes, it's not to be taken lightly.

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  7. Thank you for sharing your journey and experiences.

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    1. Thank you for reading and commenting, Kathy.

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  8. As always, you do a great service to your readers. I used to volunteer for a crisis hotline, and if people have enough hope inside them to make the call, the hotline counselors can help them get through the moment and find some hope. I know that there are times when life seems hopeless, but no one is ever totally alone.

    One time I had a "third party" call at the hotline...a woman called, worried about her friend. I had to get permission from my superiors to call the suicidal friend. We spoke at length, and I was really worried because the woman spoke in a flat tone and denied that anything was wrong. I did my best...and got a message a few days later that the suicidal friend got some help and agreed not to kill herself. I will never forget that day, and I can only hope that she hung in there.

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    1. Nadine, what wonderful work you did, to volunteer for a crisis hotline! I can imagine the hope that you gave callers. Thank God for hotlines like that and for people who staff them. They really can be a lifeline. "I know that there are times when life seems hopeless, but no one is ever totally alone"--that sums up so much. Thank you for sharing your story.

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  9. I too wrote about suicide and Rick Warren's loss just this morning.
    It's so very sad, yet so very real; and something at one moment- like Warren called 'in one wave of despair his son took his own life' -I too thought about it in my own moment of the like- but I didn't want it. I was so scared of myself that I had my husband take me to the hospital.

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    1. Deanna, you're right--it's not only sad, but it's real. I'm so glad that you got help right in your moment of despair. Thank you for sharing.

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  10. So sad about this young man Tina.
    My first husband committed suicide and it was truly devastating for everyone who knew him.
    I hope your post will help people when they read it.

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    1. Klaaske, I'm sorry that you had to go through the pain of having someone you love commit suicide. Thank you for sharing.

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  11. Tina, I was also extremely moved by the suicide of Rick Warren's son. I did not know him either, but I feel like I've known his pain. So, so sad. I agree with you - there is always hope and help is available. It CAN get better - my own life is proof of this. And yes, depression is nothing to be taken lightly.

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    1. Sunny, I felt the same way, like I've known his pain. And it hurts to think of someone having that sense of despair. I, too, am proof that things can get better.

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  12. What an important post. Thank you, Tina. My heart goes out to Rick Warren and his family.

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    1. Thank you for reading and supporting, Janet.

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  13. That really touched me as well as I had just had a bad bout of anxiety. I can be thankful that it's not as bad as it used to be but I realize that others suffer so much.

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    1. Kristina, I, too, can be thankful that I am in such a better place now than I used to be. But as you say, there are others suffering so much. Thank you for your comment.

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  14. a wonderful entry!! reaching out to others and offering help is so important!!

    and treatment, that is essential!!

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    1. Debbie, thank you. It is so important to get treatment and not try to go it alone.

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  15. Great post, Tina. I am feeling so much better now that the sun is out. The dark winter months are rough. Your honesty is amazing and helpful to others.

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    1. Thank you, Patty. The sun is nice to see. This winter seemed particularly long!

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  16. Tina, you always put your heart into your writing. That's what I love most about you and your blog. Thanks for sharing your life so others can learn.

    I'm sorry I haven't been reading and responding much lately, but my plate is extremely full right now with projects. I've had to streamline everything in order to pull it all off. Hopefully things will lighten soon so I can enjoy your blog more often. All the best to you!! Also, is that a new profile picture? I like it!

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    1. Thank you, Becky. Good to hear from you! I'll look forward to hearing more about your projects.

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  17. It just broke my heart to hear about Rick Warrens son. I know all too well the pain and sadness of losing a loved one to suicide (my brother) and I always wonder if there was something, anything, I could have done or said to change the circumstances. I guess having had depression myself I can relate to the loss of hope you feel when you hit the bottom..but I also know you can regain your life back so I really hope people will seek help when they feel suicidal.

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    1. Krystal Lynn, I'm so sorry about your brother. That still must be so painful. I hope, too, that people will hold onto hope and not let go.

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  18. My best friend committed suicide in 2005. I had just said goodbye to her and left her at the hospital's psych ward. A few hours later I got a call from her husband. It was devastating. Up until then I didn't realize how REAL suicide is even though I had tried to end my life years before.

    If insurance companies recognize the seriousness of depression, why can't mental health professionals do more? I believe every suicide is a wake up call that again, society has failed. I don't know what we're supposed to do but we need to do something.

    I didn't know about Rick Warren's son but you'd think someone with a Christian background would have all the tools for living a happy life, right? Wrong. Mental illness is not a spiritual issue like many Christians and others believe. Perhaps this was part of the problem.

    Your post was eloquent and relevant once again, Tina. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Grace, how difficult that must have been, to lose your best friend. I'm so sorry. Suicide leaves so much heartache in its wake. I don't think anyone is immune to the risk of suicide. It's a problem that can affect anyone. That's why it's so important to spread the message of getting help and having hope. Thank you for your comment.

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  19. Hi Tina, it is great that you shared this! I wouldn't have thought about depression as having an affect on the insurance, either, but it makes sense. And you are right, getting help and talking about the depression can only help, keeping it hidden is not healthy at all and can lead to suicidal thoughts....and even suicide.

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    1. Thank you for your comment, Linda. I agree--keeping depression or other mental illness hidden and not getting help can be harmful.

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  20. When you are depressed, it is very had to see a way out. It's like it will never lift and you are in a state where you can't think straight. You must seek help if you are in such a state, because like you say.. it can get dangerous.

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    1. Brian, I agree that in the midst of depression, it's hard to imagine that things will ever be different. Getting help is so important. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

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  21. You're right - depression is enormously dangerous. I would love to see more research on suicide prevention; the pain is so great and so isolating. Thanks for posting this.

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    1. Thank you for reading and commenting. I think that word you use--"isolating"--is so descriptive of the pain that leads to suicide, and what the pain is like for those left behind.

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  22. Tina,
    I too heard the awful news about Michael Warren. It saddened me a great deal. I know how debilitating depression can be, but there are so many different kinds of depression, and many different levels. I would say 99% of people in the world have depression struggles of one kind or another. It's recognizing the serious forms of depression...the kind that would lead to suicide, that is tricky. I believe that Satan would like for all of us to be on medication or in the grips of depression. He enjoys making the world a hard place to live. But, the best and most permanent solution to all of life's problems is Christ....now, having said that, I know from personal experience that anyone who has the Lord in their life can still suffer from depression. Michael Warren was raised in a Christian household and was probably a child of God, yet he killed himself. I'm sure his father prayed for him daily. All we can do in this world is pray, and be there for each other, and seek medical or counseling help when we truly need it. But, sometimes the evil wins. I am thankful every day for all God's blessings, and know that depression can be a huge battle...for everyone...because of all the pain and suffering around us. But there is so much good...we have to keep our eyes on the good! I hope and pray you can deal with your own battle. Know you have a friend who cares.

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  23. Marie, thank you for your support. You're right, there is so much good in life.

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  24. I've been reading Against Depression by Peter Kramer and he talks about how, aside from the feelings it gives us (or takes from us), it is medically dangerous and worth treatment. And most of that in his book was not based on suicide risk, either.

    I hadn't heard of Rick Warren's son until your post, but have read at least one book by him, and it hits me extra, too. I think it hammers home how Christianity doesn't cure depression here on earth.

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    1. Abigail, thank you for your comment. That sounds like an interesting book--I will have to put it on my "to read" list.

      I agree with what you say about Christianity no curing depression here on earth. I think depression in Christians is no different from depression in anyone of any or no religion, in that anyone with depression should get help. I believe God created ways to better navigate this life, and medication, therapy, etc. are examples of his blessings to us.

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