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Depression is Real... Let's Talk About It.

By Timmy Lanier
Depression is literally killing America, but why?  Just a generation ago, we knew less, lived with less, and could care less yet depression was primarily prevalent among certain groups of people.  You would think that because we have so much more in the 2020’s that life would be smoother and easier and opportunities would be endless.  Unfortunately, that’s not the case.  In fact, it seems that the more we evolve, the more we seem to long for the days when we had less.

When I was growing up, there were no cell phones and tablets and remote control this and remote control that.  We went outside and played, something that has grown extinct with today’s children.  If I recall correctly, the internet wasn’t yet a glorified network until I was in high school. I remember my
first year of college, beepers (pagers) were the going thing before cell phones and then, only select people could afford to have a cell phone.  Today, if you don’t have a cell phone, something’s wrong with you.  I even see homeless people panhandling on the street corner with cell phones.  In light of all this new and innovative technology that was supposed to enhance life, why is depression growing rather than diminishing?  
Every single day in the clinic I treat patients who are depressed.  We use a questionnaire called a PHQ 9 which is designed to objectify and assess the degree of severity of the depression for the patient and the results that I see daily are astounding.  I’ve learned that depression hits every age group the same and its sad when I listen to their stories.  I’ve also learned that depression has led to some of the worst addictions that I fight against every day in my effort to promote the healthiest life for all of my patients.  High cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other common health issues that plague us, from my observation, are largely ignored and allowed to worsen wherever depression exists.  Alcoholism, smoking, and illicit drug use skyrocket among those who suffer from depression giving rise to fatty liver disease, COPD, and cardiac and renal disease all consequential conditions whose inception is depression.
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When these patients come to see me, I see their pain because I was once there myself.  I also know some of the best remedies to overcome because I overcame myself to be in the position that I am in today.  There are so many different medications and methods for treatments available for depression.  SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) like Zoloft, Lexapro, and Paxil are among the most prominent medications given for depression and, when appropriate, I order a SSRI to treat depression and help prevent 
some of the perils that accompany depression.  While these medications are proven, one of the most effective treatments of all, in my experience, has been talking.  For this reason, I take longer to hear out these patients and give them the extra time so that they can get everything all out.  Tears fall, voices raise, emotions run high, and through it all, depression wanes.  The bottled up pain and disappointment often erupts like a volcano, but when the explosion is over, the process of healing can begin. 

I encourage anyone feeling depressed to seek help.  Depression is nothing to be ashamed of, nor should it be ignored as unattended depression can lead to life threatening decisions and behaviors.  Talk about it- get that negativity out of you so that you can move forward with life without the weight of the past that may or may not be affecting your life today.  If your depression is stable and you need medication to “take the edge off,” by all means, call your primary care provider and find out which alternative is most appropriate for your condition.  If your situation is more serious and you require the services of a specialist, your PCP can also help you with a referral.  Whatever you do, go and get the help that you need.  My patients all know that I am always attentive and will do whatever I can in my power to jumpstart the healing process whether that means listening, treating, or referring and I trust that your provider does the same.  Depression is just a part of life-  don’t let it be the end of life!
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