Tag: Depression

Depression and Cognition: A Correlation

Once upon a time, depression was viewed by many as a term used by desperate individuals, who were seeking attention or individuals lacking willpower and coping skills. Flash forward to today and we’re seeing the dangerous effects of untreated depression, such as suicide, murder, drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence and so on.

We all go through some form of sadness from time to time, whether it’s from a job loss, a failed relationship, a sudden death, and even poor family dynamics, however, when that sadness becomes a part of your everyday routine, you know it’s time for a doctor’s visit. Depression affects you in more ways than you would think and it’s absolutely vital to seek help when you notice certain changes before you begin to spiral out of control. Personally, the one symptom that got me to my doctor’s office was my lack of concentration. As a writer, you cannot function without it and I became very suspect that something wasn’t right, right away. Social isolation is also something I experience as I work from home. We know that friendships become scarce the older we get, so imagine working from behind your computer screen, while living alone and you get the perfect case study for depression and the deterioration of one’s cognitive abilities. My short term memory doesn’t exist, brain fog is consistent, focus is almost impossible and the two things I haven’t lost as yet are my sense of humor and wit, which I am almost positive will ultimately make an exit. Cognitive decline is one of the most embarrassing and debilitating thing to happen to anyone, in my opinion, especially due to its social effects such as losing your train of thought in the middle of an interview.

Recently, I was diagnosed with a mild form of depression known as Dysthymia, a persistent depressive disorder (PPD), which now puts everything into perspective. Like major depression, it’s a mood disorder with similar effects. “Diagnosis of dysthymia can be difficult because of the subtle nature of the symptoms and patients can often hide them in social situations, making it challenging for others to detect symptoms.” Sansone, 2009, Dysthymic Disorder: forlorn and overlooked. This disorder isn’t biological, however, just having family members living with depression can put you at risk of developing dysthymia. Research also indicates that this type of disorder is far more chronic than major depression because it can begin in early childhood and go undetected for many years until it manifests into major depression. It makes perfect sense as to why I’ve always felt a deep sadness within me that I couldn’t explain and being the social and charismatic kid that I was, made it impossible for anyone to suspect that I was depressed. As a child, I thought my sadness was the result of not having my parents around, but as I grew older the feelings never left. As a young adult, I spent my early 20’s feeling sad and depressed because everyone around me had their own ideas and opinions about who they wanted me to be. Being emotional as I am, I internalized everything, which eventually lead me to develop suicidal thoughts. The fact that depression and mental health weren’t taken as seriously as it is today, allowed my dysthymia to progress. Fortunately, with therapy, it is possible to regain some sort of normalcy and control in one’s thoughts. Will my poor concentration and memory loss be a thing of my past? I sure hope so because my writing nor 150 LSAT score won’t magically appear.

As I researched this topic, I spoke with several people dealing with some form of depression, who each had one thing in common, an innate fear of being labeled and stigmatized, so no one wanted to speak with me on the record. This alone shows that even though we’ve come a long way with educating society on depression and mental health, we’re still not in the clear and more work needs to be done. If we came together to discuss our experiences with the disorder then maybe people wouldn’t suffer in silence or resort to taking his or her own life. Time and time again we hear about suicide cases, especially amongst celebrities and we’re left baffled as to why because they seemed fine. Well, in most cases we don’t find out until it’s too late.

Depression isn’t a joking matter because it can affect anyone and at any given time, but the key thing to remember is that it’s possible to overcome. Wanting to end your life shouldn’t be your first thought, instead, think about ways to manage your symptoms and coping mechanisms that have been tried and proven to work. I think that a lot of sufferers are those with empty hearts, who feel burdensome by their limited or lack of fulfilling and gratifying relationships. For these sufferers, a simple “hello” or “how are you” can make a huge difference in their mood and energy. We all want to feel valued, loved, and cared for, thus making it important to stay away from abusive relationships and negative people. Negativity in every form is bad for your health and your well-being, and it’s crucial to find a balance if you want to improve your cognitive skills and life. Life is too short not to be happy.


Suicide: What’s the Deal?

From since the beginning of 2017, it seems like there’s a suicide happening every week, as though life is only getting harder to the point where there’s just too little faith in the world. What is it? Many of you may ask, but never really wanting to hear the truth. Well, here it is, some people are simply fed up and unable to cope with demons and bullies alike, so instead of prolonging their hurt, ending his or her life remains as the only remedy to alleviating their pain. As harsh as it may sound, it’s the truth, but we have the power to save a life. Take for instance, 11-year-old Michael Morones of North Carolina, who was bullied so much at school that he decided to end his life. He was found hanging from his bunk bed with a black necktie he had worn to his first violin recital a couple weeks prior. Although Michael survived his suicide attempt, it’s likely that he’d never regain his independence due to his now, vegetative state. This tragedy could’ve been avoided if school officials had intervened or if parents not only taught their kids about “stranger danger,” but also about kindness, responsibility, and bravery in standing up for themselves and others.

According to bullyingstatistics.org, “Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, resulting in about 4,400 deaths per year. For every suicide among young people, there are at least 100 suicide attempts. Over 14 percent of high school students have considered suicide, and almost 7 percent have attempted it.” And this is just for young people. A total of 34,598 people commit suicide each year, with a daily average of 94. We have reached an era where more people are dying by suicide than they are by homicide. I think it’s wonderful that fewer people are killing each other, but it’s alarming that so many are willing to give it all up. Over 90 percent of suicide victims suffer from depression, whether it’s from bullying, a job loss, poor grades, death of a friend or relative, abuse, emotional pain, chronic illness, loss of hope and many other ways. One problem still remains though; some people do not take depression and bouts of suicidal threats serious enough. Some look at a depressed and suicidal person as an attention seeker, and not the kind where the individual is actually crying out for help. It’s shameful how society treats and views depression and its underlying causes.

Social Media was ablaze when Netflix premiered the show, “13 Reasons Why” because people felt that the show “glamorized suicide.” Well, I highly dissent. This show is merely touching the surface of this soon-to-be epidemic. It showcases how oblivious and disconnected parents could be when it comes to their children’s lives. Bullies and gossip mongers are free to do as they please; torture as many of their peers as they see fit and make life harder for kids, who probably have enough hardships at home. Work and priorities will always remain the same, but it’s not enough that you spend so much time and energy on these priorities, while ignoring your children’s activities. Nowadays, everyone seems to have an opinion on what is right and wrong, but no one knows how to express their opinions in a respectful and considerate manner, and that leads to even more societal issues. Personally, I remember raising myself at different periods of my teenage years because my mom was just too busy. She’d leave for work before I left for school on most days and returned home just around bedtime. So much could’ve happened throughout these “blackout hours” and she wouldn’t have known. The point is too many kids are left raising themselves and adults aren’t proactive enough in their lives, while others place too much emphasis on areas that can easily be worked on.

I once had a college friend, who was so distraught by her grades for that particular semester that suicide seemed like the only answer at the time. She feared her parents would cut her off and quit paying her tuition, so she sat on the banister of the window in her room, gearing up to make her jump. I couldn’t live with the thought of someone dying in my presence, so I made the decision to call campus police in hopes that they’d be better at talking her down. They managed to do just that and off course, she felt a sense of betrayal on my part, but I preferred this type of emotion from her instead of the regret and contempt I would’ve felt towards myself. Furthermore, this is what you do for people you care about, you help in any way you can and you just don’t let anyone senselessly kill him or herself. In that case, along with that victim, you too, will eventually die inside and what good would it be for you, your family, your deceased friend, and his or her family? It’s important to think about life after this person is gone and this is one of the reasons why many states have laws against assisted suicide. I can agree that there are instances where suicide is and should be acceptable such as, cases involving terminal illnesses, where patients have weeks, months or years to live. If one’s pain is too hard to cope with, I don’t see a moral issue with medically assisting the individual, and it should not be frowned upon.

On November 1, 2014, Brittney Maynard, 29, chose to end her life through “assisted suicide,” also known as “death with dignity,” with her family and friends by her side. She was diagnosed with brain cancer and was given 6 months to live, but chose to forgo the pain and suffering she knew would soon become her life. According to ABC News, “[she] suffered increasingly frequent and longer seizures, severe head and neck pain, and stroke-like symptoms. As symptoms grew more severe she chose to abbreviate the dying process by taking the [lethal] aid-in-dying medication she had received months [prior].” This is the exception and it was executed with a great deal of care, unlike the other suicide victims, whose last thoughts are plagued with anger, sadness, resentment, fear, and desperation to leave this world in search of a better place in the afterlife. We are all here for the same reasons, so why not be nice to each other? No two people are alike, so there’s no reason to dislike others because they are different. Parents need to be more available and supportive of their children because your actions (negative or positive) are mirrored and internalized, so be sure it’s one that fosters kindness and empathy.

Please, don’t hesitate to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline if you or someone you know is in crisis at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).