by Joan-Marie Moss
THE HUMAN FACTOR
Sondra Dodds at Family Service DuPage in Wheaton, IL says that
those who are depressed often feel isolated and alone, different
and unusual, misunderstood by family and friends, powerless and
defeated. Many also feel the need to hide their real feelings, even
from those they love. Those who are more willing to share their
experiences share many common experiences although each case is
They share a common bond. They live in a no-man's land that's
sapping the community of its most valuable resource...competent
contributing citizens. They don't choose to live there. And they
can't will to get out of there without help.
An insidious disease, depression is multi-faceted. The onset and
the symptoms of depression are not always the same. Frequently depression
is an outward manifestation of undetected physical illnesses such
For some the disease can be traced to low self esteem; for others
to excessive drain on their physical health and energy or chronic
illnesses; for others to abnormally high levels of stress-related
life experiences; for others realization that life is passing them
by and their goals will never be reached.
In all instances the illness points to imbalances: physical, mental
and spiritual. A depressive illness is a "whole-body" illness involving
your body, mood, thoughts and behavior. It's not just a passing
bout with "the blues". You cannot "will" or "wish" it away.
Rose had frightening bouts with burning sensation in all parts
of her body. It was as if her stomach, head, nerves were all "aflame".
Katherine began to withdraw from friends and acquaintances.
One Elmhurst resident tells of his experiences, "I felt helpless
and unable to cope with every day stresses. I saw myself as worthless
as a part of the community I worked for. Frequently I entertained
thoughts that my family would be better off if I just disappeared
or died. I knew I was on a self destruct kick...ignoring my health,
setting myself up for failure in my job and getting myself in no-
win situations. The harder I tried, the worse things got in my life.
I saw myself reacting to even the simplest setbacks with uncontrollable
Anna, who has been treated both in and out of the hospital for
depression said, "Over the years, I've seen a big change in the
people who are suffering depression. They're getting much younger
now and they are filled with anger."
Some deal with the constant sensation that they are "not connected
with the rest of the world" and "unimportant". For yet others, the
illness may just hover at the point where there's a gnawing stomach
ache and the constant knowledge that "something just isn't right".
Nearly all report that their level of productivity fell dramatically.
Many find that they just "can't attend to the task at hand". In
the worst case scenario, suicide seems to offer the only way out.
The bad news is depression renders a person unable to cope adequately
with life events and, frequently, it goes undiagnosed for months
-- even years -- because the victim generally blames him or herself
for uncontrollable problems and their inability to function in a
reasonable manner. It's a vicious downward spiral that sucks its
victim into a hopeless pit of despair.
Editor's Note: If you or anyone you know suffers from depression,
please seek help from a qualified mental health professional.