Depression is a complicated condition, especially when it comes to dealing with it, when faced with life's inevitable ups and downs.
My name is Dr. David Bull and I am seeking insight into this dynamic with Susan Dowd Stone who is an award winning psychotherapist, author
and mental health advocate and Terry Wise, who is an author, but also has firsthand experience writing about in coping with her own depression.
So Terry, how can big life events provoke depression?
Well, sometimes life throws you a curve ball. So big life events such as in my case, losing my husband to eternal illness can cause depression,
it can cause a downward spiral and one of the things that I experienced was a lot of suicidal thoughts as a result of that, because I didn't have the coping skills to deal with that big life event.
How common is this Susan?
Oh! It's extremely common, and while we associate the development of depression with negative life events, there are positive life events, that bring additional stressors to a person's life.
I was going to get to that. You mentioned good things, happy things, how does that work?
Well, say you get the job of your dreams, but it's located on the other side of the country, so you have to move. You don't know anyone. You are more isolated.
The level of stress associated with that job is higher. So if you have a predisposition towards depression, because we have been focusing on the medical aspects of these illnesses,
then these stresses may overwhelm your coping system and you may begin to experience symptoms.
Do you see a difference between say anticipated events and then events that come out of blue for example?
Well, I think you are dealing with an anticipated event where you may have some preparation for the stress and the tasks associated with that event,
but sad life events they come out of the blue, there is an additional component of trauma.
Any experiences that you've had earlier in your life that had traumatized you or caused you distress, many times when you are older and you experience another significant event,
all of those things that had been simmer come to a full boil.
There are many triggers. There are many things that are totally unexpected such as walking down the super market aisle and my wedding song starts playing
or walking down the street and a man walks past me wearing the same cologne that my husband used to wear and it takes me right back into the moment that I was most distressed.
The difference is though I cope with it differently now.
All of our senses; sight, sound, taste, touch and smell are actually--the more senses are involved in for example of self-soothing activity, the more likely we are to receive the benefit of that.
So, conversely when they are involved in a trauma such as return from war the sound of bombs going off or the sight of people dying.
Often we find that the trauma of war simply re-triggered something from the person's past.
What role do you think stress, day-to-day stress plays?
There is always an effect whenever I experience any kind of life stress, but it does not bring me back to that very dark place that I used to be in because I cope with it differently.
I know it's going to sound very simple; I learned the value of talking to people about how I was feeling and you might say, well that's common sense,
everybody knows and you always hear if you talk about your feelings you'll feel better. But unfortunately a lot of people run into what I call the "what's-the-point" syndrome.
And there are support groups from major and live events, such as the loss of a spouse, or the loss of a child,
so there is no medication therapy that can blank out all of the stuff that happens to us on day-to-day basis.
And finally Terry, for people who are facing that "Big Black Wall of Depression", what advice can you give them?
The first thing that I would want to say to every single person who is in that dark place is that there is hope.
If they doubt it, take a look at me, because I am a living example that it is possible to find hope again, even when you think that it is never possible.
The second thing is to reach out for help and find someone to talk to. There are always people available to help you.
It may not be your family and friends, it might be calling the Suicide Prevention hotline or finding another professional or support group to go to,
but it is absolutely critical to not remain alone with how you are feeling and to reach out for help and talk about how you are feeling.
Very sound advice, thank you so much Terry and thank you Susan as well and thank you for joining us for Depression Insights.