If you feel depressed, your life may shorten. According to results of a study released recently which followed the lives of 3400 Canadian adults from 1952 to 1992, people with depression experienced a shorter life span than those without it. A depressed man, age 25, for example, could expect to live another 39 years; but without depression he could live 51 years.
Perhaps surprisingly, suicides did not account for this. Few of the subjects committed suicide. Depressed people died in the same way others did–heart disease and cancer, for example. One of the doctors in the research team pointed out that people receiving treatment for depression and received treatment for diabetes and heart disease.
Is Depression “Weakness”?
Depressed people tend to think of themselves as “weak”, but in reality, depression is a disease like any other, with effective treatments available, such as medications and talking.
Women, in particular, may feel a “sense of shame” over mental health symptoms, according to John Hamilton, Mountainside Treatment Center in Canaan, Conn. They may feel they need to be the rock of the family. “They might even have people around them saying, ‘Snap out of it, you have kids,'” said Hamilton. “But depression is no different from any other chronic disease,” he said. “We need to have a compassionate, nonjudgmental approach to it.”
We see in Job the effectiveness of talking. For a week, he couldn’t, but after his three wisdom colleagues rallied to his side, patiently sat with him, and themselves mourned his sad state, Job marshaled the courage to put his depressed feelings into words (Chapter 3). He first curses his life of suffering, preferring instead the peace of the grave. then he launches into five “Why?” questions. Job’s behavior reflects a healthy response to unusually devastating losses. The rest of the book allows him more opportunity to unload on his friends, and on God, preparing him to receive an appropriate response from the Almighty (Chapters 38-41). In spite of the depth of his original despair, he rallies to confront God. Through his belief in a personal God who he could address, and his colleagues support, Job avoided suicide.
If you experience depression, how well do you care for your physical health? Do you have other serious illnesses? What are you doing to manage your complex life?
[Sources: Picture: www.soothingminds.com.au Article: https://consumer.healthday.com/mental-health-information-25/depression-news-176/more-evidence-that-depression-shortens-lives-727736.html Stephen Gilman, Sc.D., acting chief, health behavior branch, U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Bethesda, Md.; Aaron Pinkhasov, M.D., chairman, behavioral health, NYU Winthrop Hospital, Mineola, N.Y., and associate professor, clinical psychiatry, Stony Brook University School of Medicine, Stony Brook, N.Y.; John Hamilton, L.M.F.T., L.A.D.C., chief clinical outreach officer, Mountainside Treatment Center, Canaan, Conn.; Oct. 23, 2017, CMAJ, online]