Last Blog: Be The Change

Screen Shot 2015-03-22 at 9.45.37 PM

We knew our campaign was short but we tried our best to raise awareness about depression in order to support fellow college and university students suffering from it. We also wanted to educate their families and friends as well as provide them with tools and resources, which would help them, recognize and support the humans of depression around them.

We tried to lower our own walls by letting you in on some of our personal stories and takes on depression. We hope that it helped you connect with our blog as well as assured the humans of depression out there, that you are not alone. Despite the statistics and numbers proving that depression is indeed everywhere, we hope we have put a face to the statistics through these personal stories.

Depression affects our social and physical well-being; it takes a toll on sufferers of it as well as those surrounding them. Each one of us can do something to help. Our hope is that our posts may have inspired you to better understand depression and that this knowledge will encourage you to help yourself and others. We also hope this campaign motivated you to be a change agent yourself, in an effort to break the stigma and induce empathy within ourselves, to be part of the solution.

It was a wonderful journey, which taught each one of us more than we thought, hopefully as much as it taught you. We have connected with some of you and it has been a pleasure to feel that our messages were appreciated and found to be familiar. Thank you to all of you who have participated in this campaign. We hope you found it educational, motivational and empowering as we intended it to be.

Our final thoughts to you are:

  • Look out for your happiness and hold on to it because you deserve to be happy.
  • Start each day a new and ask for help because there are many waiting to help you.
  • Have faith in yourself and in time because healing will happen but it takes time.

Sincerely,

Humans of Depression representatives

#LetsTalkD #BeTheChange

Advertisements

A Personal Story Dealing With Depression & Self Identifying as Gay

1726052_orig

“I came out to my parents about my sexuality at the age of 16. To say the least, they did not take it well, nor were they supportive of who I really was. They thought it was not normal, that I was going through a phase, and if I continued to identify myself as ‘gay’, then I would live a life full of suffering and people looking down on me. I felt betrayed and hurt. Their words really hit me hard, because I was their son, someone they were supposed to love and support unconditionally. If my own parents do not want to accept me for who I am, then who else would? My depression and anxiety got worse. I started to take drugs, suicide crossed my mind many times. I had no self-esteem and felt as if I had no self-worth. I felt hopeless. I remember thinking ‘is there something wrong with me? Why can’t I be normal like other boys and change how I feel, to make my parents accept me?’ and I tried. I hid my sexuality for a long time and let my depression turn for the worst when I overdosed on drugs to get rid of all the pain I felt. My parents found me in my room unresponsive and took me to the hospital. A few days later, I was transferred to CAMH (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health) where I was treated for my depression, anxiety and drug addiction through their Mood and Anxiety Program. I also learned about an organization called ‘The 519’ that works towards bringing LGBTQ individuals together to meet, participate and celebrate together. I decided to take a chance and attended some of their programs and met many people who were just like me and had gone through a similar situation as me. About 2 years later, with treatment, therapy and making new friends, I finally started to notice a change in myself, I finally felt accepted and safe. I finally felt normal. My parents are still not completely open to my lifestyle choices yet, but I know they will come around slowly. It really shocked them when I tried to kill myself, and they went through a lot of guilt, but now they are trying their best to understand me for who I am. I want to educate others with my experience and remind other LGBTQ youth that they are not alone, there is help out there, and it is not the end of the road.”

Dealing with depression and other mental illnesses is tough and challenging, but when an individual identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer (LGBTQ), it can become much more difficult to cope when some people do not accept the for who they truly are. Many LGBTQ individuals feel alienated from others, and find themselves battling with their true identity versus the public’s perception. Sadly, many LGBTQ individuals find themselves resorting to suicide, because there does not seem to be a better option (their risk of suicide is 14 times more compared to their heterosexual peers and 20% greater for those living in unsupportive environments1,2). For those of you living with a mental illness, there is help out there- you do not have to suffer in silence. Let’s work towards creating more safe and supportive environments. Let’s talk depression.

LGBTQ- friendly Crisis Lines:

Trans Lifeline: (877) 330-6366

PFLAG Canada: 1-888-530-6777 ext 226

The Lesbian, Gay, Bi Trans Youth Line: 416-962-0777

For more information about ‘The 519’ click here : http://www.the519.org/index.php

For additional resources, help and support, visit: http://www.camh.ca/en/hospital/Pages/home.aspx

~Joti, Humans of Depression Representative

Remember to follow Humans of Depression on the following platforms:

http://twitter.com/HumansofD

https://www.facebook.com/HumansofDepression

http://instagram.com/humansofdepression/

References

  1. http://rhvp.ca/lgbtq-youth-suicide/
  2. http://ontario.cmha.ca/mental-health/lesbian-gay-bisexual-trans-people-and-mental-health/

Friend of a Depressed University Student

“I dropped out of McGill University because of depression. It was the type that begins as a barely perceptible malaise but quickly penetrates your mind and renders you nearly unable to speak, think, or even walk.”

Susannah Feinstein wrote the above in an article for The McGill Daily, where she tells her own personal experience battling with depression. Reading her story seemed all too familiar to me. One of my best friends went through, and is going through, the exact same thing. I remember the shock I felt when I found out that they dropped out of their university.

“My friends and professors had no idea that I was having personal issues, because I appeared fine. I still went to parties, and talked with friends for hours. I even comforted a few people who might have been facing depression themselves but privately I was unraveling. I started to have outbursts of anger or sadness. The second I was alone, I’d cry almost uncontrollably. I had to leave classes to cry. I had to leave conferences to cry.”

Just like Susannah, my friend hid it well. They were always the most talkative, charismatic person in the room, and everybody loved them. I had no idea what was going on behind that. I had no idea that my friend was going through an inner turmoil that nobody they knew could relate to. I had no idea, even after I found out… what I could do as a friend. I never knew anybody with depression, and this was one of my best friends. Where could they go for help? Who can help?

“McGill is struggling financially and McGill Mental Health Services are operating on a very limited budget. If students are guaranteed access to these services, I see no issue. The real problem with these services is that they’re incompatible with the needs of a deeply depressed person at almost every level. A triage therapist might misdiagnose you. They might see hundreds of students a week and be unconsciously eager to get you out of the office. Overcoming a bout of depression will take many appointments. It might take dozens of therapists until you even find one with whom you’re comfortable. If you’re feeling really low, you might not even have the energy or motivation to make an appointment. It’s incredibly difficult to address mental health issues at any large university, not just McGill.”

And that is exactly what happened with my friend. When they finally decided to reach out to the school mental health services, they did not like the counselor and could not get the help they needed. As a result, they had to move back home to see someone else. A major issue we have on university campuses is allowing an environment where everybody—students, faculty, staff, counselors—feel comfortable talking about it, and not just behind closed doors in the Mental Health Services rooms. We need to speak up and advocate for better services for those with mental health issues, we need to bring that level of care to campus grounds so that people don’t feel like they need to leave university to receive adequate care.

My friend still has not returned to university yet, and I hope that when they do, the school will be a much more inviting place for people struggling with depression to be in.

~ Mei, Humans of Depression Representative

#LetsTalkD #

Remember to follow Humans of Depression on the following platforms:

http://twitter.com/HumansofD

https://www.facebook.com/HumansofDepression

http://instagram.com/humansofdepression/

The above quotes are taken from Macleans. http://www.macleans.ca/education/uniandcollege/i-dropped-out-of-mcgill-because-of-depression/

Depression in Men

Depression is not a gender specific disorder. All genders can relate to depression. Today, focus of discussion is depression in men. Men commonly have feelings of irritability, anger and discouragement 1. Male depression often undiagnosed because of failure to recognize symptoms, reluctance to discuss and often downplay their symptoms3. Men are more likely to complete suicide. Jack Windeler was a Queen University student, who had battled with mental illness2. He was a victim depression. He struggled to maintain academics, go to classes and eventually isolated himself 2. Unfortunately, his worsening depression was unnoticed and Jack committed suicide in March 20102. In memory of Jack, the Jack Project was founded to provide a youth help line aimed to decrease stigma associated with mental health and promote mental wellness2. The Jack Project become Jack.org is truly an inspiring charity, sustaining youth leadership and breaking the silence on mental health discussion. Visit the following link to learn more about program and initiatives.

http://www.jack.org/current-initiatives-and-programs

~Vanessa, Humans of Depression Representative

Remember to follow Humans of Depression on the following platforms and support #LetsTalkD:

https://twitter.com/HumansofD

https://www.facebook.com/HumansofDepression

http://instagram.com/humansofdepression/

Reference

  1. CAMH (2008). Depression. Retrieved from

http://www.camh.ca/en/hospital/health_information/a_z_mental_health_and_addiction_information/depression/Pages/default.aspx

  1. Jack.org (2015).Our history. Retrieved from http://www.jack.org/our-history
  2. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (2013). Male depression:

Understanding the issues. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-

conditions/depression/in-depth/male-depression/art-20046216

Postpartum Depression

Postpartum Depression

“When I had postpartum depression (PPD) with my first child, I blamed myself for feeling the way I didI felt it was my fault that I had it, that my weak character, my inability to be strong, had brought on my postpartum depression. When I began therapy for my PPD, my therapist helped me realize that I did not cause my PPD. I couldn’t have predicted it or prevented it. And I needed to forgive myself for having it”.

Every pregnant and new mother, regardless of her geographical location, race, marital status, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status should have the right to enjoy, as the World Health Organization states, the highest attainable standard of mental health. PPD is a part of it.

The average prevalence rate of non-psychotic postpartum depression based on the results of a large number of studies is 13%. Prevalence estimates are affected by the nature of the assessment method (larger estimates in studies using self-report measures) and by the length of the postpartum period under evaluation (longer periods predict high prevalence). The strongest predictors of postpartum depression were past history of psychopathology and psychological disturbance during pregnancy, poor marital relationship and low social support, and stressful life events. Finally, indicators of low social status showed a small but significant predictive relation to postpartum depression

There are many options for support: talk therapy, medication of many types, new mama groups, other support groups, friends, yoga … Bring Your Own Baby (BYOB) yoga, on yoga mat with your newborn is always an exciting experience taking you out from depression.

Its awareness of this issue which needs everybody’s attention.

~ Amir A., Humans of Depression Representative

#LetsTalkD #postpartumdepression #yoga

Remember to follow Humans of Depression on the following platforms:

http://twitter.com/HumansofD

https://www.facebook.com/HumansofDepression

http://instagram.com/humansofdepression/

Reference:

http://www.postpartumprogress.com

Rates and risk of postpartum depression—a meta-analysis 1996, Vol. 8, No. 1 , Pages 37-54

Michael W. O’hara, and Annette M. Swain: International Review of Psychiatry

http://bloomablog.com/walk-postpartum-depression-anxiety/

A friend in need is a friend indeed

Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 8.50.20 PM

Remember this saying? Well, we are needed.

Not just friends, family members may also be able to lend a hand, when it comes to depression. Depression is a serious illness that should not be ignored or underestimated. Please do take it seriously and be aware that it can happen to anyone. So what COULD we do when someone we know goes through depression?

First of all, as much as we may feel urged to, we should not ask why. Basically, it is never that simple! We may find it helpful on the other hand to learn more about depression to be better equipped for the situation. We may help that person to get a check up if we suspect they are depressed, we may even need to book an appointment for him/her (if we are that close, of course).

We should not to judge or belittle their pain, even if it seems trivial to us, it is definitely not for them. Instead of guessing how depression feels, check out this article, to get an idea. It lists how fifty humans of depression describe it: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/danny-baker/depression_b_5267263.html

It might be hard at times to help, because they do their best to alienate themselves. To overcome any awkwardness that may arise, we need to remind ourselves that it is not WE that they are pushing away. It is their disconnection from the whole world that drives them further away. We could always try to minimize this gap.

We could encourage them to eat well, sleep enough, and exercise often even if it is the least of their worries.

Throughout the process, we need to be careful about warning signs of worsening conditions, such as thoughts on suicide.

We discussed this in detail in one of our earlier blogs, in the link below, so please keep it in mind: https://humansofdepression.wordpress.com/2015/02/16/suicide-ideation/

The most important thing you can do for anyone suffering from depression is to be there, which may be all they need from you!

While doing our best to help, we should not neglect ourselves. We often get carried away in other people’s pains especially if they are important to us. We need to be careful. While it is noble of us to be supportive, it will not be helpful to anyone if we lose track of our own lives. So it is essential to constantly remind ourselves to spare time for US. It is also important to not feel guilty about someone else’s depression, which is a trap caregivers often fall in.

You can help, so do your best!

Today’s blog marks the end of our detailed uptake of the different aspects of depression. We started with defining it, then we learned about its causes, which was followed by an introduction of all the signs and symptoms that happen because of it. We also delved into associations of depression such as complications, most dangerous of which being suicide. We ended with an exploration of management, which included prevention, treatment, self-help, and helping others.

The last part of our campaign, which will take part over the next 4 weeks, will be about depression in special situations. It will also include stories which may be relevant to many. So stay tuned, its going to get personal!

~ Faten B., Humans of Depression Representative

#LetsTalkD #wordsmatter #BeKind #DontJudge

Remember to follow Humans of Depression on the following platforms:

http://twitter.com/HumansofD

https://www.facebook.com/HumansofDepression

http://instagram.com/humansofdepression/

Reference:

http://chealth.canoe.ca/channel_section_details.asp?text_id=1092&channel_id=11&relation_id=27878

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 8.39.06 PM

When we are diagnosed with depression and prescribed medication, is there anything else we can do?

Definitely, there is always light at the end of the tunnel, however desperate or helpless we may feel! We are capable of doing so much for ourselves. It is none less than an outstanding achievement having asked for help and accepted medication or therapy, in the first place. Yet, it may benefit us more to think of changing our attitudes towards life, add coping skills to our tool belts, and find appropriate outlets for our stress.

Self-help is an essential component of overcoming depression. It is about recognizing one’s weaknesses and strengths, likes and dislikes. By evaluating ourselves we empower ourselves; setting the stage for true change towards a rewarding and productive life. We can take care of and help ourselves in many ways, including:

  1. Support: It is important to work on and maintain supportive relationships. In a way it prevents our isolation and sense of loneliness as well as boosting our self-confidence. Talking to a spouse or a friend or a parent, may be all the treatment we need especially in mild depression. Even though they may not have solutions or definite advice but just having them listen to us may boost our mood and satisfy our need of feeling loved and appreciated.
  2. Nutrition: It would definitely be worthwhile if we could work on making healthy and well-balanced meals a habit. We had discussed this in one of the earlier blogs, which you may checkout in the following link:

https://humansofdepression.wordpress.com/2015/02/20/food-affects-mood/

  1. Exercise: Taking up a sport or exercising is always a great idea, given the countless benefits resulting from either. Even though it may be the last thing in our mind, when it comes to dealing with depression, exercise is an asset.
  2. Distraction/Outlets:
  • Music appears to affect brain systems that control emotions and thus may improve our mood. So let us keep that playlist rolling!
  • Watching a funny movie or a TV show may provide all the distraction we need, away from the negative thinking that usually haunts us in depression.
  • Dance has been found to lower levels of stress hormones and significantly lowers levels of depression. Isn’t that convenient? So next time when our favorite tune is on, let us all promise to dance away, we will fight the urge not to, and dance away!
  1. Books: There are many useful self-help books such as The Feeling Good Handbook, that are available on the market today to help us overcome our depression.

Ultimately, it is helpful to acknowledge that our cure lies within us. We are capable, strong and worthy. So let us all do our best to help ourselves because we deserve that.

To end on a sweet note, check out this unique cake shop! It is a simple gesture of solidarity, assuring us that as humans of depression, we are not alone! http://depressedcakeshop.org

~ Faten B., Humans of Depression Representative

#LetsTalkD

#SelfHelp

#UGotThis

Remember to follow Humans of Depression on the following platforms:

http://twitter.com/HumansofD

https://www.facebook.com/HumansofDepression

http://instagram.com/humansofdepression/

References:

http://psychcentral.com/lib/depression-treatment/000646/1

http://www.helpguide.org/articles/depression/dealing-with-depression.htm

http://www.express.co.uk/life-style/health/499664/How-to-stop-depression?

http://depression.newlifeoutlook.com/music-depression

http://blogs.psychcentral.com/dbt/2010/07/dance-away-stress-and-depression/

Road to Recovery

Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 8.28.10 PM

The first step on the road to recovery starts with asking for help.

Once we do that; we are accepting the presence of this illness and empowering ourselves to overcome it. If we are diagnosed with depression, it is not the end of the world. As we learned earlier on, it is a chemical imbalance that needs fixing, similar to other illness brought on by hormonal or chemical imbalances in our bodies.

Yet, when the doctor prescribes medication, some of us are reluctant to comply with it, thinking we don’t need it. While in some cases, where depression is very mild, a few counselling sessions may help, in other cases, anti depressants are absolutely necessary for management.

There are different types of antidepressants such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) and others, which have been all shown to be effective. The key to antidepressants efficiency is to be patient about the results because it may take up to 6 weeks for the drug to work. The length of time, we should take antidepressants for, depends on how severe our illness is and is to be decided by our physician. Although antidepressants may have side effects, we should not stop our medication or even adjust the dose without consulting our doctor, to avoid relapse. Strategies for coping with some of the most common antidepressant side effects such as dizziness, insomnia, and anxiety, can be found here: http://depression.about.com/od/patientsrights/a/sideeffects.htm

It is important to avoid overestimating the role of antidepressants. They are not miracle pills! They are not meant to solve all our problems. They only keep us from feeling overwhelmed, so that we can solve our problems.

That is why the role of counselling and therapy is as important as taking the medication. Another name for therapy is psychological treatment, which helps people to change the negative pattern of thinking and improve their coping skills. Such objectives of therapy enable us to deal with life’s stresses and conflicts in a better and healthier manner. There are different types of behaviour therapies such as cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy (IPT), mindfully based cognitive therapy (MBCT), and behaviour therapy.

It is our right to ask as many questions as we want about our treatment options, but in the end, it would be wise to consider our care provider’s advice on whether antidepressants are essential or not in our case as well as which antidepressant or therapy would be  most appropriate.

~ Faten B., Humans of Depression Representative

#LetsTalkD

#TimeHeals

#Antidepressants

Remember to follow Humans of Depression on the following platforms:

http://twitter.com/HumansofD

https://www.facebook.com/HumansofDepression

http://instagram.com/humansofdepression/

Resources:

http://psychcentral.com/lib/depression-treatment/000646/1

http://chealth.canoe.ca/channel_section_details.asp?text_id=1093&channel_id=11&relation_id=27878

http://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/depression/treatments-for-depression

http://www.cracked.com/blog/5-facts-everyone-gets-wrong-about-depression/

 

Prevention is Better than Cure

 Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 8.24.03 PM

It is common to check the mirror before going out, to make sure we look good. It is common to watch what we eat, to make sure our body remains healthy. But it is not common to take the time, to make sure that our mood is on the right track. Depression, as some describe it, may feel like a well of darkness. It is easier to stay away rather than slipping into it. So why don’t we all watch out for depression and try to prevent it? Is that possible?

Yes, we can always try. To prevent depression is to take care of ourselves holistically, not just our exterior.

Taking care of our bodies by eating healthy and exercising could positively affect our mood, as we learned in our last blog. Getting enough sleep is one of the important basic steps to many illnesses prevention not just depression. We can also take care of our mood by keeping our loved ones close. Finding our passions to serve as an ‘outlet’ to our stress and being thankful for what we have may also protect us from depression. We could always try avoiding blaming ourselves and focusing on having a positive attitude. It is also beneficial to have a balanced routine, to fill our time with meaningful activities whether it is work, social engagement, or fun. Getting counselling if we feel overwhelmed during times of grief, stress or low mood is another depression prevention tool.

It may seem tedious, taking care of our mood, but it is an essential step to ensure our mental well being. It may be hard at first, but making it a habit will lead to an easier sustainable good mood.

Depression is a serious illness, which we should not take lightly. It is not just being sad or lonely; it is a complex illness involving symptoms that affect our general physical and social well being, not only mental. Thus, it is imperative to learn about and be aware of depression because by reading more about it and educating ourselves, we make it easier to prevent and recognize.

Taking care of YOURSELF is important, we all owe it to ourselves!

~ Faten B., Humans of Depression Representative

#LetsTalkD #preventioniswellness #boosturmood

Remember to follow Humans of Depression on the following platforms:

http://twitter.com/HumansofD

https://www.facebook.com/HumansofDepression

http://instagram.com/humansofdepression/

Resources:

http://chealth.canoe.ca/channel_section_details.asp?text_id=6141&channel_id=11&relation_id=27878

http://www.everydayhealth.com/depression/10-key-questions-about-depression/what-is-depression.aspx

http://www.wikihow.com/Prevent-Depression

Food Affects Mood!

food_and_your_mood

Depression can affect ones eating habits and a common sign for depression is changes in appetite and weight. Eating healthy while being a university student can already be hard as it is, as many may not have the time to prepare healthy alternatives. I think everyone can relate, especially during exam season. As you can imagine, bad eating habits tend to intensify depression among individuals already suffering or it can lead to eating disorders such bulimia and anorexia nervosa1.

Some may have a decreased appetite and can lead to irregular eating patterns or others may have an appetite for unhealthy foods and gain weight. How do particular foods affect ones mood you ask? There are certain food items that directly affect the chemicals in your brain (neurotransmitters), eating patterns that affect blood sugar levels, which can both affect your mood levels1. This in turn can create vicious mood cycles and contribute to ones depression symptoms to reach its high.

Here are a few things to know that can help improve mood:

  • Eat regular meals, especially breakfast (having a stable intake of blood sugar levels helps stabilize your mood and can prevent those unhealthy cravings!
  • Carbohydrates (i.e., whole grains, fruits, vegetables), vitamins and minerals help the update of serotonin in the brain, lifting your mood
  • Make sure you have a balanced intake of omega 3 & 6 oil, it also helps with mood
  • Avoid crash dieting or over eating (especially very sugary foods!), it contributes to a vicious mood cycle
  • Be aware of side effects of medications, some may increase or decrease ones appetite
  • Exercise! This is the best way to stay fit and increase serotonin levels

Want more tips on healthy eating? Check out our colleagues at http://healthyu2015.blogspot.com/

~Joti, Humans of Depression Representative

Remember to follow Humans of Depression on the following platforms:

http://twitter.com/HumansofD

https://www.facebook.com/HumansofDepression

http://instagram.com/humansofdepression/

References:

(1) http://www.minddisorders.com/Kau-Nu/Nutrition-and-mental-health.html.