I recently spoke with a pharmacist who said he is regularly filling prescriptions for antidepressants for children as young as 6 and 7 years of age.
Is this a concern? Or are the parents taking the easy way out?
From my experience, people on antidepressants seldom look at the cause of their depression. They simply hope the antidepressants will make the problem disappear.
When problems persist, they often get worse.
Statistics in Australia show around one in four people will suffer from depression. For this to be a statistic, these are the people who have sought medical help and been placed on medication.
Think of how many people suffer in silence. From what I know of depression (from personally having experienced it and from helping people overcome it for 35 years), every person will experience depression at some time in their life. Most of these will not seek help and will try and work their way through it.
If they do, great. If they don’t, there is a good chance it will get worse, they will struggle and may even develop suicidal thoughts.
While there are a lot of definitions of depression, mine is simple. Depression is having a problem to which there is no solution.
Some common examples are:
* The loss of a loved one – either through death or a relationship break-up. If you are the one that is left, you want the other person back. This other person is not coming back. Problem, no solution.
* Financial problems. Your expenses are greater than your income and you see no way of changing this. It may even be you have no money to pay the bills.
* Being teased. When you are teased or bullied, you feel worthless. You are unable to stop the bullying so feel depressed.
* Poor marks. Especially in Year 12 (HSC). Many students become depressed because they haven’t done the study and fear they will fail. They have let their parents down and their teacher. To them, there is no solution.
* Suffering from some debilitating illness. You may be in constant pain, suffer from anxiety or panic attacks or suffer from a fear that stops you from enjoying life – like claustrophobia or agoraphobia. You may even have a complaint you can’t get rid of or a terminal illness.
* Stuck in a situation. You may be in a relationship or job that you intensely dislike and feel you are in a no-win situation. You don’t want to stay but feel you can’t get out.
You can probably think of many other examples.
So, how many people experience problems that don’t have solutions?
Everyone, at some point in their life.
All of the above put you in a no-win situation. You feel like you are “going in circles”, “chasing your tail”, “beating your head against a brick wall”. While there is no solution, you feel down and may become frustrated, angry and tired. You may feel a sense of hopelessness and associated symptoms. As things become worse, you begin to spiral in a downwards direction.
The further down you go, the blacker things appear to be. This is why depression is often referred to as “the black hole”.
There are different depths of depression, from light to deep. The deeper you go, the more work you have to do to get out (and the harder it can be).
Sometimes one event may cause depression; sometimes there are many. I often consult with clients who say “I feel depressed and I don’t know why”. This often means there is not one thing that stands out. Once we identify all the problems in that person’s life that do not have a solution, we begin to see how the depression begins to add up. In other words, one thing by itself is not a problem; five things added together are.
Sometimes things like poor self-esteem (hating yourself) and a lack of purpose or direction in life are the cause. Or it may be you have very high expectations of yourself and you are not achieving the result you want.
If you find you are suffering an emotional “down” feeling,
* identify all your problems that do not have a solution. Write them down.
* Can you find a solution to each problem?
* If you are unable to find a solution, it is important to seek professional help. Look for help where the therapist gives you skills and strategies on how to help yourself.
* Read a book on the topic, find a video that can help, talk with friends or attend a seminar. These can all give you ways of helping yourself.
* Work on your self-esteem. Feel good about who you are and what you have to offer.
* Are you placing too much pressure on yourself to achieve? If so, identify ‘why’. What benefit do you receive from doing so?
Think of depression as an emotional ‘down’. This means your thinking has become negative and you are focusing on the problem.
Switch to positive thinking. Identify what is going right and why you should be happy.
Focus on the possible solutions. Through doing this, you have a feeling you are going somewhere. You are achieving.
Just as you have dug yourself into a hole, lets reverse the procedure and start filling the hole in. In other words, dig yourself out.
You can do this.