Every week I go through at least one day that I feel depressed. Wen that happens, I always have to ask one question, “Am I suffering a depressive episode, or am I dealing with a typical day that I’m just feeling the blues? Is it just a normal depression that most people deal with now and again?” I was going through one of those episodes recently when I happened to have an appointment with my pdoc. I explained to him what I was going through and told him I was having some depressing days, and wasn’t sure if it was normal depression or did it feel exceptionally bad because I don’t have them as often as I use to. His one sentence response was, “Yes, that is the big question.” That was the best response he could give me?! That was no response at all. I left feeling more frustrated than when I arrived.
“Over the millennia scientists from many different disciplines have struggled with the issue of defining what is normal and what is abnormal or pathological with respect to human bodily or mental states and human behavior,” Klaus Scherer and Marc Mehu of the Swiss Center of Affective Sciences commented. They added:
Psychiatrists and clinical psychologists are often called upon to reliably distinguish between normal and abnormal emotions. Increasingly this is done with the help of diagnostic category systems developed by professional associations and health organizations like the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM). In consequence, the definition of abnormal emotionality proposed by these classification systems has an extraordinary impact on the diagnosis and treatment of what is perceived as emotional disorders or disturbances.
The DSM- 5 (The current issue of the DSM) specifies that the clinician should exert judgment when diagnosing depression after bereavement, but the continuum between what emotional state is normal and what is abnormal makes the process difficult, especially in the absence of agreed upon criteria.
I don’t know about you, but none of this gives me the answer I want. All this psychological mumbo jumbo seems to ask a lot of questions, with little or no answers. My pdoc refuses to give me anything that may lift my spirits. He did increase the dosage of one of my anti-depressants, but to me, I need just a little more of a lift, but he refuses. As I’ve said in a previous post, he’s concerned about giving me more because on one office visit I was clearly in a manic state. He’s never forgotten that day, but it seems like he has amnesia for all the days that I’ve been depressed.
In the end, I guess it’s up to me. Not that I can change the medications I’m on. It’s up to me to ride the storm. Don’t become hopeless when I’m feeling depressed. Instead, accept it’s only temporary. Whether it’s a short episode or a long one, I have to focus on the fact that it always goes away. Learning to ride it out is difficult. It took me a long time for it to be instinctive, but I believe I’ve learned to do it in most instances. It was worth the effort to learn.
SAGE Publications. “Are your emotional responses normal or abnormal? Report examines the difference between normal, abnormal emotion in how we diagnose depression.” ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150625080932.htm (accessed July 23, 2015).