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Let's Talk About Mental Health! Part 2 of our 3-Part Blog Series by Micah Caballes

Hello there, if you're reading this, this is part 2 of a 3-part blog series to shine light in the topic of Mental Health. If you missed part 1, you can go HERE.

My goal is to give you as much information about this topic as there are so many misconceptions about this and it's hardly spoken about. I pray that this will be informative and will also inspire you to reach out to someone who might be experiencing Mental Illness.

What Is a Mental Illness? Mental Illnesses are a medical condition that affects mood, thinking and behaviour. It is characterised by abnormal thoughts, perceptions, emotions, behaviours and relationships with others. Mental Illnesses include depression, bipolar disorders, schizophrenia, dementia and developmental disorders such as autism.

Depression & Anxiety are the 2 most common metal illnesses that in reality some of us live with everyday. Today I want to focus on Depression and the practical ways we can manage and overcome this mental illness.

Depression What is Depression? It is a medical condition and disorder that is one of the main causes of disability worldwide. Globally, approximately 264 million people live with depression. According to the DSM-5, to be diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, one must experience 5 of following symptoms within a 2-week period or more (at least 1 symptom being diminished interest/pleasure/depressed mood):

  • Depressed mood (persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest)

  • Anhedonia (diminished interest or loss of pleasure in almost all activities)

  • Significant weight change or appetite disturbance

  • Psychomotor agitation

  • Fatigue or loss of energy

  • Feelings of worthlessness

  • Diminished ability to think/concentrate; indecisiveness

  • Recurrent thoughts of death & suicidal ideation with a specific plan, a suicide attempt or specific plan for dying by suicide

  • Sleep disturbance (insomnia or hypersomnia… too much sleep, or not enough sleep)

Types of Depression Gradients of depression? Severities of depression will vary depending on its cause for e.g. mild [but still disabling for an individual] to majorly severe, to which its persistence can last over weeks, months or even a period of years. Whether mild or major depression, care for self, treatment and/or therapy are vital depending on its severity for the individual. Major Depression: Also known as ‘major depressive disorder’ or ‘clinical depression’, ‘unipolar depression’ or simply ‘depression’ involves low mood and/or loss of interest and pleasure in usual actives, as well as other symptoms:

  • Symptoms experienced most days and last for at least two weeks

  • Affects and interferes with all areas of a person’s life, including one’s ability to function daily and work tasks, as well as social relationships Melancholia: Term used to address a severe form of depression where physical symptoms are present… major changes include the individual beginning to move more slowly, experience a depressed mood and a complete loss in pleasure of almost everything. Bipolar Disorder: ‘Mania’ is like the opposite of depression and will vary in intensity. Symptoms may include:

  • Extreme experience of low and high moods

  • Having lots of energy

  • Racing thoughts and little need for sleep

  • Talking quickly

  • Having difficulty focusing on tasks and feeling frustrated and irritable

  • Most closely linked to family history and affects approximately 2% of population Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): A mood disorder with a seasonal pattern (cause is unclear but it’s thought to be related to variation in light exposure in different seasons)

  • Characterised by mood disturbances (periods of depression or mania), starting and ending in a particular season. Depression starting in winter and decreasing when season ends is most common (usually diagnosed after individuals has had similar symptoms during winter for a couple of years)

  • Symptoms include possible lack of energy, excessive sleep, overeating, weight gain or crave for carbohydrates

  • Very rare in Australia (more likely to be found in countries with shorter days and longer periods of darkness, including cold climate areas of the Northern Hemisphere) Causes of Depression

  • Life circumstances/situations: Abuse, bullying, trauma, neglect, grief and loss (losing a loved one), poor support/social network

  • Biological make-up: Hormonal factors, genetics, chemical imbalances

  • Way of living/lifestyle: Big life transitions, overworking/excess stress/burn-out, financial hardships, unhealthy habits for e.g. drug and alcohol abuse

  • Spirituality: Existential crises, shifts in world-views, lack of fulfilment

Cognitive factors: Low self-worth/esteem, body image issues, perfectionism, distorted (black & white unhelpful thinking style)

Now that you've got some info, I want you to remember that nothing is impossible with GOD! And no matter what, He is there for us through any situation we might be facing.

We can always go to HIM for help. There's so many strategies, techniques & "how-to's" out there for mental illness, but I believe God is our healer and He knows exactly what we need in every season.