"Could you be depressed and not know it?" This sounds like a ridiculous
question. After all, wouldn't you know if you were depressed? Possibly
not. Depression can take hold gradually, without a person realizing that
depressive thoughts and feelings are increasingly dominating her perspective -
and her life.
Many people assume that depression is easily identifiable, manifesting
itself as persistent sadness that doesn't lift. In fact, symptoms of depression
can take a variety of forms. Chances...
"I hated who I was," says the 40-year-old. "My depression was so
severe and my suicidal ideations were so severe that I decided to create a
person who does so much work, is so proactive, and so diligent in everything he
In the tough, male-dominated environment where he worked, Weaver put on a
show of confidence. But when he got home, he would yell at his wife and kids,
and cry for hours with a gun in his hand.
After months of contemplating suicide, Weaver turned to his wife for help.
With her support, he was treated with electroconvulsive therapy (ECT, more
commonly known as "shock treatment"), antidepressant and antipsychotic
medications, psychologist and psychiatrist visits, and hospitalization.
Now, Weaver feels better about himself and runs his own program to educate
police officers about depression, stress, and suicide prevention.
He shares his own experiences with fellow officers, letting them know that
if they feel depressed and/or suicidal, they are not alone. He says two to
three times more officers commit suicide than are killed on the job by
Law enforcement is also reportedly one of the top ranking professions in the
country for suicide, alcoholism, and divorce.
"So many officers and so many men in different occupations cannot feel
that it would be appropriate to tell people how they feel," says Weaver.
"It gets to be so bad that the only recourse that they feel they have is
Depression can affect people in all walks of life. According to the American
Psychiatric Association, symptoms of the illness could include:
Changes in appetite that result in weight loss or gain not related to
Insomnia or oversleeping
Loss of energy or increased fatigue
Restlessness or irritability
Feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt
Difficulty thinking, concentrating, or making decisions
Thoughts of death or suicide, or attempts of suicide
At work, the symptoms could translate into problems with attendance and
punctuality, less job satisfaction, lack of performance, sleepiness, and
withdrawal from coworkers, says Rudy Nydegger, PhD, professor of psychology at
Union College in Schenectady, N.Y.
For people who think they might be depressed, Nydegger suggests the
following first steps of action:
Consult with your primary health care provider. Symptoms of depression are
similar to signs of other ailments, such as thyroid problems and low blood
Get a referral or refer yourself to a mental health professional.
Check with your company's Employee Assistance Program (EAP). "They can
be a very good resource, especially for referrals," says Nydegger.
Work on a healthier lifestyle, including a balanced diet and regular
Make sure your physical and social activity is up to normal levels, even if
you don't feel up to it. If you force yourself to get out there, you'll get
SOURCES: World Health Organization. American Psychiatric
Association. John Weaver, PsyD, owner of Psychology for Business, a workplace
consulting firm. National Sleep Foundation. Meir Kryger, MD, professor of
medicine, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg. Mark Rosekind, PhD, president and
chief scientist, Alertness Solutions. Anxiety Disorders Association of America.
Jeffrey P. Kahn, MD, clinical psychiatrist, author, Mental Health and
Productivity in the Workplace. Rudy Nydegger, PhD, professor of psychology,
Union College, Schenectady, N.Y. Lawrence S. Brown, Jr. MD, MPH, president,
American Society of Addiction Medicine. U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. WebMD
Feature: "Internet to Sex: Defining Addiction." Angie Moore, licensed
counselor in the treatment of alcohol, drug, and gambling addiction;
spokeswoman, Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery. Russell Barkley, PhD,
professor of psychiatry for the Medical University of South Carolina. Children
and Adults With Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. WebMD Feature:
"Adult ADHD: More Controversy, Treatments."