Mt Pleasant News

Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 18, 2018

Depression — more than just a ‘blue day’

By Brooks Taylor, MPN reporter | Sep 25, 2015

It was not a good week (until Saturday) to be a Hawkeye a couple of weeks ago.

That was the week in which Tyler Sash and Roy Marble (who was my all-time favorite Hawkeye) died. Some of the sting was taken away with the football game win over Iowa State on Saturday.

While Marble’s death was expected, Sash’s was not. Marble had entered Hospice recently after battling brain cancer for just over a year.

The cause of Sash’s death has not been released by the medical examiner although the rumor mill started churning when police ruled out foul play.

In this case, the cause is not as important as the factors leading up to it.

Sash, it is said, was suffering from depression. Here is a young man, who was a collegiate football star and later earned a Super Bowl ring, who was depressed. It is difficult to believe.

Depression, however, has no age limits and is one of the most misunderstood diseases. Many people think of depression as having a “blue” day or sadness. However, depression is so much more and has proven to be deadly.

Several friends of mine have battled depression for years. Whenever I talk to them on the phone, I can immediately tell their state of mind.

Another friend committed suicide a couple of years ago. He, too, had suffered from depression for several years, which I didn’t know. He seemed to have his life together with a great family and a good job. The person I knew was a happy-go-lucky guy.

I found out about his depression shortly before his suicide. He had attempted suicide before, running his vehicle into a light post. This time, he drove out in the country and used his shotgun.

His close friends were shocked because he seemed to be getting a handle on his depression. He was getting back to his old self, they said. Obviously, he still was harboring a dark secret.

The National Institute of Mental Health reports 19 million Americans suffer from some sort of depression. There are several forms of depressive disorders. They include major depression, persistent depressive disorder, psychotic depression, postpartum depression, seasonal affective disorder and bipolar disorder.

Major depression includes 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 is a depressed mood that lasts for at least two 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 two years.

Psychotic depression 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 is experienced by many women after giving birth. It is estimated that 10 to 15 percent of women experience postpartum depression after giving birth.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) 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 only light therapy.

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

Experts say depression is caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental and psychological factors.

Some signs and symptoms of depression include: persistent sad, anxious or empty feelings; feelings of hopelessness or pessimism; feelings of guilt, worthlessness or helplessness; irritability, restlessness; loss of interest in activity or hobbies once pleasurable; fatigue and decreased energy; difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions; insomnia, early-morning wakefulness or excessive sleeping; overeating or appetite loss; thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts; aches or pains, headaches, cramps or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment.

Women are 70 percent more likely than men to experience depression. The average age of onset of depression is 32 years old.

Depression, even the most severe cases, can be effectively treated. The earlier treatment begins, the more effective it is. Treatment generally includes medication, therapy or both.

Tyler Sash may no longer be with us, but I hope his death raises new awareness that depression is much more than feeling blue or sad. It’s serious stuff.


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