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Nov 8, 2012

Whoa! Healthy Living’s early signs of depression

Often times we face difficult times in our lives that may make us sad, but when the feeling persists for a bit too long; it may be a sign of one of the most common mental disorders. Depression is said to affect up to three hundred and fifty million people worldwide. It has become so common that the WHO declared depression a global crisis. In this week’s edition of Healthy Living, we take a look at some of the early signs of depression.

 

Nurse Eleanor Bennett, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

“Depression is one of the most common mental disorders; actually some people call it the common cold of psychiatry. It’s that common.”

 

Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

Nurse Eleanor Bennett is a specialized nurse called Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner or PNP who diagnoses mental illness and treats through talk therapy and the prescription of medication. She is also the Coordinator of the Mental Health Services for Central Health Region. Stationed at Cleopatra White Clinic in Belize City she encounters many persons with varying levels of mental disorders.

 

Nurse Eleanor Bennett

Eleanor Bennett

“In Belize it is the second most common reason for consultation at the mental health services. The most common is anxiety disorders which is close related to depression. Quite a few people who suffer anxiety disorders also suffer depression. Some literature says three women to one man but most people say two to one. There are many types of depression that affect only women and for various other reasons as well.”

 

In fact, it is estimated that one in every four women up to one in four women is likely to have an episode of major depression at some point in life. There are many factors that may contribute to an increased risk of depression. In her practice, Nurse Bennett has found many of the cases she’s seen to be based on environmental factors.

 

Nurse Eleanor Bennett

“In Belize there are a lot of environmental factors and I guess those are the reasons that people come for and a lot of issues surrounding finances, issues with relationships, issues with grief. So those are very, very common.”

 

One of the best ways to minimize the physical and emotional damage of an episode of depression is to recognize the early signs and seek treatment. Nurse Bennett provides us with some of the early signs of this mood disorder.

 

Nurse Eleanor Bennett

“We would start an evaluation after symptoms persist for more than two weeks. What makes it different from their regular depressed moods is the number of symptoms the severity of symptoms and the duration of the symptoms. The early signs would be a person who you noticed has lost interest in the activities they usually enjoy. So let’s say you have somebody home who use to enjoy playing basketball or love socializing friends on the weekend and then gradually you see that person stop going out. You see that person saying I really don’t feel like doing that anymore or, the person who’s mood I very low most of the time.

That person would appear that he or she are just having fun, just not having fun being here, just not having fun with the family or being with the kids; so nothing holds pleasure for those people anymore.”

 

Nurse Bennett says that most times persons close to you can detect the shift in moods and point out the potential problem. Even though, some people try to mask their depression, loved ones may still notice a sense of sadness or a look of unhappiness. Another main symptom is extreme fatigue.

 

Nurse Eleanor Bennett

“When the tiredness can’t lift and it’s been weeks and months since the person has been like that. When the person not only with the sadness but the person start to think “maybe I shouldn’t be around anymore” maybe they start to actually think about suicide, maybe they would lose appetite and they can’t sleep well and then other symptoms start to set in. we can then be able to see that it’s not just a regular sadness but the disease is setting in. For some people the y will tell you it’s an incredibly fatigue. Feel really, really tired and all the pain symptoms that are associated with and that’s a common presentation of us. I am tired all the time. I feel like I just can’t pull myself out of bed anymore.”

 

Following these early signs, other symptoms like changes in appetite; changes in sleep; feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness, thoughts of suicide and unexplained physical pain especially in shoulders or back, headaches or vague pain in other parts of the body. Depression is a treatable mental disorder, depending on the severity, medication or simple talk therapy can help to overcome a depressive episode. The most important thing is to seek treatment like you would for any other the disease.

 

Nurse Eleanor Bennett

“People do suffer it affects their lives with their family it affects their productivity at work. It affects them in all areas of their lives. People don’t come because they don’t want to be labeled crazy. They think it’s a character weakness so to admit that you have depression would mean you’re admitting that you are weak. So my message would be for people not to suffer in silence because treatment is

available.”

 

Last year, there were a little more than six hundred and fifty cases of depression recorded in Belize; however the World Health Organization estimates ten percent of our population is affected by depression which equates to more than thirty thousand Belizeans. So, if you or a loved one is showing early signs of depression; seek out the necessary treatment. Free psychiatric services are available at all public health clinics countrywide.

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