DR. JANET SCOTT
By Dr. Janet Scott
The Mid-South Tribune
The Mid-South Tribune ONLINE
And the Black Information Highway
I’m Here for You
I see you hurting,
And I want so much
To take the hurt away.
I want you to be happy,
To be yourself,
And yet I understand.
Sometimes it’s hard,
And all we want to do is cry.
It’s not wrong to be frustrated
And get upset;
There maybe nothing else
That we can do.
But I want you to know
That I’m here, and I care.
I care very much, and I’ll help you
Whenever and however
you may want me to.
-Bethanie Jean Brevik-
Bobby Womack’s “Fact of Life” album has a song entitled “Nobody Wants You When You’re Down and Out”. This is a real fact of life! We like being around others who are happy and make us feel good. We tend to shy away from people who bring sadness into our lives. When one may be reaching out for help we often turn our backs. No one likes to be around a person who is constantly crying or complaining, not caring about one’s appearance, has a helplessness outlook, and perhaps even suicidal thoughts or actions.
A person who exhibits some of the above behavior or who may be “down and out” may be suffering from depression. Depression is one of the most common and treatable of all mental illnesses in America today. And yet, it is widely misunderstood. It is estimated that over 30 million Americans may be suffering from some form of depression at this very moment. Research indicates that over 80% of all individuals who suffer from depression can be treated by psychotherapy, medication or shock treatment. The problem arises of course when one does not recognize the sings of depression or recognizes them and chooses to do nothing.
Depression can affect anyone at any time of his/her life. This includes children, adolescents, young adults, middle age and the elderly. Research indicates that middle aged adults are more likely to suffer from depression than any other age group. Individuals are evaluating their achievements in life and/or their job or career, children may be leaving home, encountering health problems, experiencing divorce or a second marriage, and maybe preoccupied with death realizing that the major part of their life is behind them.
What is Depression?
Depression is a common mood disturbance with feelings of sadness, loneliness, helplessness or disappointment which can lead to withdrawal, loss of enjoyment of life and physical discomfort.
What are some of the symptoms?
Seek professional help if you have four or more of the following symptoms on a continually basis over a period of time:
1). Noticeable change of appetite
2). Loss of energy, fatigue
3. Loss of interest and pleasure in activities
4). Physical discomfort, aches
5.Feelings of inappropriate guilt
6. Feelings of hopelessness, helplessness
7. Noticeable change in sleeping patterns
8. Inability to concentrate, confusion
10.Neglect Personal appearance
Suicidal Thoughts or Action
Please remember that everyone experiences some or all of these symptoms at some point in his/her life. When the symptoms are severe and lasting so that pain and problems outweigh pleasure, it is time to get professional help!
What are some causes of depression?
Depression is not inherited but there is the tendency for some type of depressive illness to appear in certain families; certain types of medicines; loss of job; divorce; death of a loved one; moving; birth of a child; trying to be “perfect”; and illness.
African Americans and Depression
African Americans have a tendency to not seek professional help. They want to handle their problems in their own way. They do not want others in “their business.” This thinking stems from slavery and the initiation of the AFDC process. Depression as it relates to African Americans is often ignored or untreated. Untreated depression or any mental illness usually disrupts work, family relations and one’s social life. When African Americans do encounter the mental healthy system, they have generally been forced through work or family. Their symptoms at this point have become severe. Often times, African Americans utilize alcohol and/or drugs to deal with their depression. Thus when African Americans access the mental health system healing needs to take place with many different issues not just depression. African Americans tend to think that when one seeks professional help one is “crazy.” It is difficult to visualize that one is trying to be the healthiest person that one can be. No one wants you when you’re down and out!
It Is Okay to Feel Down
Feeling down or blue is a normal reaction to stress and tension. Everyone feels this way now and then. This feeling can stem from being broke, failing an exam, having a hard time saying no to people, rainy days, job hunting, having a flat tire, etc.
Ways to Pick Yourself Up
When you find yourself feeling down, consider doing one of the following activities:
1. Get some physical exercise (force yourself) turn the radio on and dance, go for a walk, ride your bike, do some floor or chair exercises, go bowling, join an aerobic class.
2. Take a long hot bath – Relax
3. Do some deep breathing exercises
4. Take a drive (out of the city)
5. Talk to a relative or close friend
6. Read your Bible
7. Write a letter to yourself about what is causing these feelings; tear up the letter
8. Listen to your favorite music
9. Sit quietly by the river
10. Go to the movies
11. Find something or someone to make you laugh
12. Make a grateful list
Dr. Scott is a contributing columnist for The Mid-South Tribune. She is a National Board Certified Counselor and a Tennessee licensed professional counselor with a mental health provider designation offering individual, group, couple and family therapy. Her office is located at 1331 Union Ave., Memphis, TN. 38104; phone: 901-722-8751.