Living with Depression

Imagine feeling so exhausted you can’t muster the energy to walk from one room to the next. Nothing inspires you to take action. Activities that once offered pleasure seem without meaning. You have chronic fatigue although you sleep more. Or perhaps you can’t sleep; you lay awake fitfully throughout the night. Your appetite is sluggish; food tastes like cardboard — or you can’t stop eating. You’ve either lost weight or packed on extra pounds. Sex is the last subject on your mind; or, you’re engaging in risky sexual encounters.

In fact, you’re not able to concentrate on very much. Your life feels narrow and parched and sometimes you get the sensation of falling into a well; sinking fast. Your temper is charged, often for no reason. Or, you feel so apathetic, nothing gets you fired up. You’re like a passenger on a train listlessly watching the scenery pass. You’re disconnected from those around you, but it feels as if you don’t deserve their attention anyway. Nothing matters.

These days, smiling or joining in any social contact is as strenuous as hoisting a 50-pound weight. You’re often so sad you weep spontaneously, sometimes for no apparent reason. And you break down anywhere: in the supermarket, while driving, perhaps while making your morning cup of coffee. Grief streams behind you like a swimmer’s long hair in the water. Behind the curtain of your dark emotions, your chronic state of sadness may also be negatively affecting your physical health.

Researchers at Duke University, for example, tracked heart disease and mood symptoms in 730 men and women over age twenty-seven, and found that people with symptoms of depression were 70 percent more likely to have heart attacks than those who were not depressed.

Scientists surmise that people who feel hopeless may experience surges of stress hormones, which can affect the heart and other internal organs. You may feel drained both emotionally and physically and not have the energy to reach out for help. This endless string of sadness continually pulling at your mind may keep you from moving in any positive direction.

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