Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Symptoms of Depression

I really hate the big pharmaceutical companies. I’m a US citizen that it’s generally known here that Big Pharm holds a huge amount of control over politicians. They use this control to squeeze more and more money out of our broken health-care system.

A few years ago Big Pharm managed to make advertising prescription drugs on TV legal. At first it might have seemed silly, advertising to consumers who would have to go supplicate to their doctors in order to get the drugs that they want. Well, Big Pharm was also working the doctor side of the equation and their TV campaigns were wildly successful.

This causes all kinds of problems. Patients taking wrong drugs or way too much for their ailment not only drives up insurance rates for the rest of us, it also creates a population more likely to produce drug resistant bacteria. And it creates a medical community that is more likely to believe in the power of drugs which leads to over prescribing. All drugs have side effects which sometimes require additional drugs if they are severe enough. The whole systems sets in motion a vicious cycle that, whether by design or luck, produces obscene profits for Big Pharm.

I could go on but I won’t. I just want you to get a feel for why I hate Big Pharm and the ads that they have all over TV.

Seven or eight years ago I was watching TV with my wife and one of these Big Pharm ads came on. Sometimes when I see one I delight in picking apart their wording to get to the heart of their deception. In this case the ad was for an antidepressant. The narrator, a silky voiced woman, said with great sympathy, “Do you suffer from…” and she listed around ten different symptoms while images of various sad people flashed on the screen. The deception here was so obvious that I had to laugh aloud.

“Of course we do,” I blurted, “That’s the human condition.”

My wife didn’t say anything. She just kept watching.

“I mean, these are daily things, right?”

Now she looked at me. “You think about suicide?”

“Well, yeah, doesn’t everyone?”

“Promise me you won’t do anything stupid.”

I laughed, “I’m to much of a wuss to actually do it. I just think about it.”

She let it drop then but a few days later she brought up again. She was obviously thinking about it.

I was too. The next time I saw the ad I wrote down the symptoms that they listed. I regularly experienced almost ever one of them to one degree or another. I decided to look them up and found them listed virtual verbatim on the National Institute of Health’s website under Symptoms of Depression. This was the first time that I began to think that I actually had depression.

Those symptoms are:

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed, including sex
  • Decreased energy, fatigue, being "slowed down"
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
  • Insomnia, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
  • Appetite and/or weight loss or overeating and weight gain
  • Thoughts of death or suicide; suicide attempts
  • Restlessness, irritability
  • Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain

This is still a strange list for me. Except for those symptoms that become evident as changes from regular behavior, I’ve had all of these since as long as I can remember. There’s never been a catalyst; this is just how I live.

I don’t know if it will ever change. If I ever make enough money for it, I will seek a professional therapist, one with a holistic approach that won’t say “drugs” in our first session.

For now, though, this is all I have.


Anonymous said...

All the best, for me, I read books and listen to tapes and got myself a purpose...

holli jo said...

Hi! I'm glad I found this blog. I too, have had depression for almost as long as I can remember. I've had a lot of the same feelings you seem to be going through -- embarrassment and unwillingness to publicly talk about depression, disgust toward the drug companies, etc.

I'm interested in what you have to say and what you find out in your search.

Right now you can find me at my personal blog http://mrsronk.blogspot.com. I am somewhat open about my depression there, but most people who visit there don't comment on the depression posts. Very soon I'll be starting a blog that I hope will include information and thoughts on depression. I'll keep in touch.

Again, thanks for sharing your private battle with the world, even if you do choose to remain anonymous.

jms1090 said...

I was wondering. Thoughts of death and/or suicide. I don't think of suicide. I don't think that as an option, but I do think about other people's death. I don't know if that is normal for depression?