Many people congratulate themselves for making it through the chaos, busy-ness, family battles, loneliness and over-imbibing of the holidays but then drop into the Post-Holiday Blues just days after the last New Year’s horn is blown.
At the first of the year, I see more patients suffering from depression (what I call the D Word) than any other time of the year. For some, this is an unusual feeling that they don’t normally deal with on a regular, daily basis. For others, it’s simply an accentuation of the low they’ve been feeling for quite some time. Considering the number of stress-producing experiences that happen in a week, topped with the unusual holiday stressors, and topped still again with factors such as genetics, hormonal changes, illnesses and weakened immune systems, it’s not at all unusual that people experience the “D Word” at some point in their lives, and especially at this time of year.
The stigma of “depression”
Some people are afraid of depression as if it were a black hole whose gravity is so great that not even friends or family can avoid being sucked into it. Other people have an aversion to depression because they equate it with defeatism, a weak self-image, lack of will power, or the sissy’s response to life’s challenges.
If we are compassionate, we pity people in depression. If we are totally ignorant, we blame the victim. If he would simply “look at the bright side” or if she would “make a list of all the things she has to be thankful for,” he or she would quickly snap out of it. Optimistic and relatively “normal” people do not know the gnawing pain of living for years with a brain that is consistently drowning in despair.
Understanding what “depression” medications do
When people first learn that there are chemicals in the brain that promote good feelings, they jump to the conclusion (much as early neurochemists did) that their suffering is a result of inadequate supply of the right chemicals and assume that medications are going to increase that supply.
Since those early days, however, research in the field of neuroscience has uncovered the fact that the brain of a normal, healthy person has no problem producing those “feel good” chemicals. The problem is that, even though these chemicals are present in a person, and even present in the right amount, they’re not doing their proper job.
The medications we use to balance neurochemicals do not ADD anything. Instead, they simply help the brain put the existing chemicals to good use. The challenge, then, is to determine as clear a diagnosis as possible to predict which neruochemicals are imbalanced and to what degree. Then, a medication or combination of medications is prescribed to correct the imbalance. The medications enable the nervous system to do its job by removing the roadblocks and fixing up the leaks.
As I often explain to my patients, it’s not up to you or me to decide which medication or treatment plan is right for you, but rather, up to your body. The body has an amazing ability to heal itself when it’s functioning normally. For the benefit of the body, the doctor will administer the smallest amount of medication possible to complete this job.
I can help you past your post-holiday blues, whether it’s a rare event for you, or a heightened sense of depression that has been lingering all too long in your life. Feel free to call my office at (949) 481-0118 or Contact Us for a quick response from us.