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Beauty & the Beast | Tips for Slaying Depression

Beauty & the Beast | Tips for Slaying Depression | Robin Williams | Jada Jackson, LMHC

Depression is a BEAST! Did you know that the more beautiful, talented and popular people fight harder to slay the beast of depression? Some of Hollywood’s most famous beauties have been diagnosed with depression: Ashley Judd, Owen Wilson, Demi Lovato, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Gwyneth Paltrow, Brooke Shields and more. Additionally, research suggests that pretty women are more likely to be depressed.

Regardless of one’s external attributes or undeniable talents, depression can strike the old, the young, the beautiful and the not-so-beautiful. According to USA Today, “Investigators in California said Oscar-winning actor Robin Williams was found dead in his bedroom, fully clothed, slightly suspended in a seated position with a belt around his neck, with one end wedged between a closet door frame. Lt. Keith Boyd, assistant chief deputy coroner for Marin County, Calif., said rigor mortis had already set in. Williams was found by his personal assistant, who broke in to his room when he failed to respond to knocks.”

Persoanlly, I remember Williams as the funny, zany Mork from the hit TV series Mork and Mindy; and later I adored him various movies and shows. However, my faviorite was his role as a therapist in Good Will Hunting. As we mourn the loss of a great talent, we can’t help consider the pain he must have endured. The talented actor committed suicide and left Americans shocked by his death. The common question that echoes throughout the nation is, “Why would he do this?” The answer was a very loud, “Because he was depressed.” Well, what are the implications of depression and what signs should we look for in our loved ones?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health:

There are several forms of depressive disorders.

Major depression,—severe symptoms that interfere with your ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy life. An episode can occur only once in a person’s lifetime, but more often, a person has several episodes.

Persistent depressive disorder—depressed mood that lasts for at least 2 years. A person diagnosed with persistent depressive disorder may have episodes of major depression along with periods of less severe symptoms, but symptoms must last for 2 years.

Some forms of depression are slightly different, or they may develop under unique circumstances. They include:

  • Psychotic depression, which occurs when a person has severe depression plus some form of psychosis, such as having disturbing false beliefs or a break with reality (delusions), or hearing or seeing upsetting things that others cannot hear or see (hallucinations).
  • Postpartum depression, which is much more serious than the “baby blues” that many women experience after giving birth, when hormonal and physical changes and the new responsibility of caring for a newborn can be overwhelming. It is estimated that 10 to 15 percent of women experience postpartum depression after giving birth.
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is characterized by the onset of depression during the winter months, when there is less natural sunlight. The depression generally lifts during spring and summer. SAD may be effectively treated with light therapy, but nearly half of those with SAD do not get better with light therapy alone. Antidepressant medication and psychotherapy can reduce SAD symptoms, either alone or in combination with light therapy.

Bipolar disorder, also called manic-depressive illness, is not as common as major depression or persistent depressive disorder. Bipolar disorder is characterized by cycling mood changes—from extreme highs (e.g., mania) to extreme lows (e.g., depression).

Understanding depression is the first step to developing a strategy to defeat the beast; and depression is a beast that must be slain with careful precision.

7 tips for Slaying Depression:

  • ENLIST a counselor to walk the journey with you. Remember, it’s okay to ask for help. Unfortunately, counseling has taken on a negative sterotype that prevents people from exploring therapeutic options. Having a therapist DOES NOT mean that you are “crazy.” Everyone could use someone to talk to and develop life strategies to manage life’s complexities. Talk therapy is a perfect way to address the stress in your life.
  • EXPLORE medication option with your physician and/or psychiatrist. Medication may be necessary and only your doctor or psychiatrist can prescribe it. However remember, medication alone may not be as effective as the pairing of medication and psychotherapy.
  • EXERCISE to balance brain chemicals. Once you discuss with your phycisian an appropriate exercise plan, stick to it. Exercise releases “feel good” chemicals in the brain that will ultimately stimulate positive moods. Once you commit to exercising regularly, you may find your mood changing in a more positive way.
  • EAT healthy to help repair your body’s deficiencies. Eating healthy and exercise go hand in hand. The more “good” you put into your body, the more “good” you get out of your body. High performance will come when you fuel up with nutritious foods.
  • SLEEP to regain balance in your body and mind. The chemicals released during deep sleep are necessary for growth in children and cell repair in adults.
  • REFRAME negative thoughts and replace with positive thoughts. Remember, what you think is what you feel and what you feel is what you do. With negative thoughts come negative emotions and ultimately negative behaviors. Thought the act of reframing, we can change how we think about a situation and replace the negative thought with a positive thought. Obviously this is not an overnight process, however, it is a necessary process to reduce symptoms of depression that may be triggered by faulty thought patterns.
  • DEVELOP a healthy support system. A negative support system will fuel your depressive symptom. Surround yourself with positive friends and family members that will support your efforts to maintain a healthy and happy life.

Remember, these are tips that will assist you in minimizing your depressive symptoms. However, if you or someone you know are overwhelmed with symptoms of depression, please contact a therapist that may assist you.

Reference:  National Institute of Mental Health