Depression, page 1
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Copyright © 2019 by ABC-CLIO, LLC
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review, without prior permission in writing from the publisher.
Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Control Number: 2019941511
ISBN: 978-1-4408-6600-5 (print)
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This book is dedicated to Dr. Norman S. Endler whose own holiday of darkness helped inspire this book. It is also dedicated to all of my clients dealing with depression, and I thank you for the insights you have provided. May this book help others find a way to come to terms with their depression and get on with their lives.
Guide to Health Literacy
Common Misconceptions about Depression
Questions and Answers
1. What is depression?
2. Are there different types of depression?
3. What is the difference between being depressed and being unhappy?
4. How widespread is depression?
5. Who is most likely to develop depression?
6. How does depression change across the life span?
7. What are some of the most common signs that someone is depressed?
8. Are there other medical conditions that can mimic depression?
9. What is learned helplessness?
10. How far back in history does depression go?
11. Why do so many people with depression try to hide their symptoms?
12. Is there a depression epidemic?
Causes and Risk Factors
13. Why do individuals become depressed?
14. Is depression linked to trauma?
15. Why is depression so common in young people?
16. What causes postpartum depression?
17. What causes seasonal affective disorder?
18. Is depression caused by a brain disorder?
19. Is depression genetic?
20. Can bullying lead to depression?
21. How is grief related to depression?
22. Is depression linked to early childhood problems?
23. Is chronic pain linked to depression?
24. Why is depression so common in the military?
25. Are sexual minorities more vulnerable to depression?
Consequences of Depression
26. Can depression lead to drug or alcohol abuse?
27. Why are depression and anxiety often seen together?
28. How does depression affect families?
29. What are the real costs of depression to society?
30. Are people with depression at risk for suicide?
Culture, Media, and Depression
31. How do different cultures view depression?
32. How are goth and emo subcultures linked to depression?
33. Can social media make depression worse?
34. Why is there such stigma surrounding depression?
Treatment, Prevention, and Life after Depression
35. How can people with depression find help?
36. What are some of the most common forms of treatment for children and adults dealing with depression?
37. What is a treatment plan?
38. How do antidepressant medications work?
39. Are there risks associated with taking antidepressant medication?
40. What are some of the alternatives to drug treatment?
41. Do herbal and dietary remedies work in treating depression?
42. What is cognitive behavioral therapy?
43. What is mindfulness therapy?
44. What is interpersonal psychotherapy?
45. Who should receive group therapy?
46. What can parents do to help children who are depressed?
47. Can online support groups help with depression?
48. Does the risk of depression ever go away?
49. How effective are awareness campaigns in helping people who are depressed?
50. Can people who have been depressed learn to move on with their lives?
Directory of Resources
All of us have questions about our health. Is this normal? Should I be doing something differently? Whom should I talk to about my concerns? And our modern world is full of answers. Thanks to the Internet, there’s a wealth of information at our fingertips, from forums where people can share their personal experiences to Wikipedia articles to the full text of medical studies. But finding the right information can be an intimidating and difficult task—some sources are written at too high a level, others have been oversimplified, while still others are heavily biased or simply inaccurate.
Q&A Health Guides address the needs of readers who want accurate, concise answers to their health questions, authored by reputable and objective experts, and written in clear and easy-to-understand language. This series focuses on the topics that matter most to young adult readers, including various aspects of physical and emotional well-being as well as other components of a healthy lifestyle. These guides will also serve as a valuable tool for parents, school counselors, and others who may need to answer teens’ health questions.
All books in the series follow the same format to make finding information quick and easy. Each volume begins with an essay on health literacy and why it is so important when it comes to gathering and evaluating health information. Next, the top five myths and misconceptions that surround the topic are dispelled. The heart of each guide is a collection of questions and answers, organized thematically. A selection of five case studies provides real-world examples to illuminate key concepts. Rounding out each volume are a directory of resources, a glossary, and an index.
It is our hope that the books in this series will not only provide valuable information but will also help guide readers toward a lifetime of healthy decision-making.
I would like to thank the various researchers and therapists whose efforts have helped make this book possible. Thanks also go to Maxine Taylor of ABC-CLIO and their excellent support staff as well as those colleagues of mine who were kind enough to review sections of this book and provide helpful suggestions on how it could be improved.
Depression is like a heaviness that you can’t ever escape. It crushes down on you, making even the smallest things like tying your shoes or chewing on toast seem like a twenty-mile hike uphill. Depression is a part of you; it’s in your bones and your blood.
If there is any mental health issue that can be said to be universal, it’s depression. Among the famous people who dealt with this crippling disease were such luminaries as Edgar Allen Poe, Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, and Virginia Woolf, to name just a few. But depression has been found in people of all ages and cultures and in just about every era in human history. For that matter, it may predate human history considering that depressive symptoms have been observed in numerous nonhuman species as well.
We all get depressed, at least once in a while, though for most people, those “blue moods” pass quickly enough. But not everyone is so lucky. In the United States alone, mood disorders are the most common reason for children from one to seventeen years of age to be hospitalized, and more than fifty thousand Medicaid patients are readmitted to hospital for depression each year. And these grim statistics are in line with what is being reported in most other industrialized countries as well.
Unfortunately, getting accurate statistics is often impossible in many countries because the stigma attached to most forms of mental illness, including depression, often encourages people to suffer in silence. In most developing nations, psychiatrists are in extremely short supply, and psychiatric help is simply not available for many patients courageous enough to ask for it. Even in supposedly advanced nations like the United States, the long waiting lists for proper treatment can lead to depressed people having to wait months to get help, even if it’s just in the form of medication.
Much of the stigma surrounding depression stems from a basic misunderstanding of what depression actually is. Even for people with mild depression, the failure to “just get over it” often leads to feelings of guilt or shame due to not being able to handle the symptoms on their own. And for the ones dealing with more severe symptoms, getting help means months, or even years, of experimentation to find the right treatment. For that matter, horrifying stories of depression being treated through exorcisms or spurious local remedies, which often do more harm than good, are disturbingly common, even in countries where better options exist.
Along with psychotherapy, use of various herbal remedies to treat depression has a very long history, but now that we are in the “Age of Prozac,” is it any surprise that antidepressants are the most commonly prescribed medication of all? With an estimated sixteen million people on antidepressants in the United States alone, the sheer demand for better and stronger antidepressants has provided a permanent and growing source of revenue for pharmaceutical companies. And the demand for newer and better drugs has soared over the past few decades.
Still, despite the various treatment options now available, depression continues to be a major health issue worldwide. Whether it leads to suicide, substance abuse, destroyed marriages, or lost jobs, the physical and economic toll of depression cannot be underestimated. Unfortunately, while depression is something that everyone has experience with, there are far too many misconceptions on what it is and how it should be treated. For example, many people confuse depression with the feelings of sadness that we all experience from time to time, and they often think that overcoming depression is just a matter of “snapping out of it” through sheer willpower. Nothing could be further from the truth.
In my new book, Depression: Your Questions Answered, I address many misconceptions about depression and discuss how damaging these widely held beliefs can be. I discuss the different controversies surrounding depression as well as how depression can be effectively diagnosed and treated.
This book is also intended to provide basic answers to many of the most common questions people are likely to ask about depression and is broken down into different sections to help readers focus on what is most important to them. The material covered in this book should help those dealing with depression themselves, their family members, concerned friends, and even health professionals seeking further information to help patients dealing with this crippling disorder.
For far too many people dealing with depression and their families, there is often a sense of pessimism that depression is something that cannot be overcome for long. This is far from the case, however, as countless success stories have shown, some of which will be mentioned in this book. The most critical thing people dealing with depression need to remember is to never give up hope. The right help is out there; you just need to be willing to find it.
Guide to Health Literacy
On her 13th birthday, Samantha was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. She consulted her mom and her aunt, both of whom also have type 2 diabetes, and decided to go with their strategy of managing diabetes by taking insulin. As a result of participating in an after-school program at her middle school that focused on health literacy, she learned that she can help manage the level of glucose in her bloodstream by counting her carbohydrate intake, following a diabetic diet, and exercising regularly. But, what exactly should she do? How does she keep track of her carbohydrate intake? What is a diabetic diet? How long should she exercise, and what type of exercise should she do? Samantha is a visual learner, so she turned to her favorite source of media, YouTube, to answer these questions. She found videos from individuals around the world sharing their experiences and tips, doctors (or at least people who have “Dr.” in their YouTube channel names), government agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, and even video clips from cat lovers who have cats with diabetes. With guidance from the librarian and the health and science teachers at her school, she assessed the credibility of the information in these videos and even compared their suggestions to some of the print resources that she was able to find at her school library. Now, she knows exactly how to count her carbohydrate level, how to prepare and follow a diabetic diet, and how much (and what) exercise is needed daily. She intends to share her findings with her mom and her aunt, and now she wants to create a chart that summarizes what she has learned that she can share with her doctor.
Samantha’s experience is not unique. She represents a shift in our society; an individual no longer views himself or herself as a passive recipient of medical care but as an active mediator of his or her own health. However, in this era when any individual can post his or her opinions and experiences with a particular health condition online with just a few clicks or publish a memoir, it is vital that people know how to assess the credibility of health information. Gone are the days when “publishing” health information required intense vetting. The health information landscape is highly saturated, and people have innumerable sources where they can find information about practically any health topic. The sources (whether print, online, or a person) that an individual consults for health information are crucial because the accuracy and trustworthiness of the information can potentially affect his or her overall health. The ability to find, select, assess, and use health information constitutes a type of literacy—health literacy—that everyone must possess.
The Definition and Phases of Health Literacy
One of the most popular definitions for health literacy comes from Ratzan and Parker (2000), who describe health literacy as “the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.” Recent research has extrapolated health literacy into health literacy bits, further shedding light on the multiple phases and literacy practices that ar
The first phase is the information need identification and question formulation phase. In this phase, one needs to be able to develop and refine a range of questions to frame one’s search and understand relevant health terms. In the second phase, information search, one has to possess appropriate searching skills, such as using proper keywords and correct spelling in search terms, especially when using search engines and databases. It is also crucial to understand how search engines work (i.e., how search results are derived, what the order of the search results means, how to use the snippets that are provided in the search results list to select websites, and how to determine which listings are ads on a search engine results page). One also has to limit reliance on surface characteristics, such as the design of a website or a book (a website or book that appears to have a lot of information or looks aesthetically pleasant does not necessarily mean it has good information) and language used (a website or book that utilizes jargon, the keywords that one used to conduct the search, or the word “information” does not necessarily indicate it will have good information). The next phase is information comprehension, whereby one needs to have the ability to read, comprehend, and recall the information (including textual, numerical, and visual content) one has located from the books and/or online resources.
To assess the credibility of health information (information assessment phase), one needs to be able to evaluate information for accuracy, evaluate how current the information is (e.g., when a website was last updated or when a book was published), and evaluate the creators of the source—for example, examine site sponsors or type of sites (.com,. gov,. edu, or. org) or the author of a book (practicing doctor, a celebrity doctor, a patient of a specific disease, etc.) to determine the believability of the person/organization providing the information. Such credibility perceptions tend to become generalized, so they must be frequently reexamined (e.g., the belief that a specific news agency always has credible health information needs continuous vetting). One also needs to evaluate the credibility of the medium (e.g., television, Internet, radio, social media, and book) and evaluate—not just accept without questioning—others’ claims regarding the validity of a site, book, or other specific source of information. At this stage, one has to “make sense of information gathered from diverse sources by identifying misconceptions, main and supporting ideas, conflicting information, point of view, and biases” (American Association of School Librarians [AASL], 2009, p. 13) and conclude which sources/information are valid and accurate by using conscious strategies rather than simply using intuitive judgments or “rules of thumb.” This phase is the most challenging segment of health information seeking and serves as a determinant of success (or lack thereof) in the information-seeking process. The following section on Sources of Health Information further explains this phase.