by Joan-Marie Moss
Fortunately it’s the patient who does the real work of recovery. Those who discover that they control of their own destiny have the greatest hope of recovery. They can then learn how to maintain balance in their lives and their habits. They practice being less compulsive nurturers. They begin to trust themselves and be a bit more open with others. They learn to maintain a childlike attitude of gratitude and wonderment. And, they learn to be less sensitive to outside turmoil.
One of the key ingredients to healing lies in getting away from introspection and self-centeredness and to reach out to others. Those who have been afflicted and have made the most progress typically have found ways to give of themselves to others less fortunate or to share their unique talents with the community…the challenge being that a person who is severely depressed has great difficulty breaking through his/her feelings of isolation.
One group of women developed a phone network that they said was particularly helpful. One of the women is dealing with a pregnant teenager, another with a financial problems, a third with the death of a mother and a fourth with an overbearing aging mother. These women discovered that being able to pick up the phone and connect with someone who they knew would understand helped to speed recovery. In short order, often a matter of minutes, they managed to break the downward spiral of day-to-day crises. These calls provided the ladies a life-line that they turn to before the crisis could escalate. Most often within a very few minutes, they found they could put the experience into perspective and they’d find themselves laughing. And therein they found a cure, because you simply can’t be depressed and laugh at the same time.
Dr. Russo’s findings confirm that depression is indeed a multi- factorial disease that encompasses genetic, biological and environmental factors. He voices the concerns of many when he says, “The reason that depression is so pervasive is that society is losing its sense of security and moral fiber in both the family and in the community. As it’s losing its fiber we’re losing our sense of purpose and personal value. At the same time we need to look at the spiritual component that gives us a sense of wholeness and peace when looking for solutions.”
Those who understand depression agree, with Heddi, “I need people, but I need people that I can be myself with. And, I need to find a way to make sense out of the madness I face every day I walk out my front door. When things get off balance, I need to make some changes. Alone I can’t do it.”
NOTE: Although most of the quotes here are those of women, the situation is far from a woman’s problem. Women are simply more susceptible to depression. “Role strain is a factor, according to Barbara Hayes. “We are more aware of depression than we were in the past, but there are more stresses in society today for women to fulfill multiple roles. They make very heavy demands upon themselves. Women traditionally are the nurturers and very often in the process of nurturing others they forget to nurture themselves….as a result, at some point, people just start caving in.”
The experts tell us that women today suffer twice as much depression as men. While one in four women can expect to develop depression during their lifetime, one in eight men can, too.