(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Justin Mckibben
Anyone who has ever been both alive and awaken will experience feelings of being down. Negative emotions and difficulty with feeling them is part of life. Being conscious means dealing with the duality of living, but when emotions like helpless despair and hopelessness get control and won’t let go, you may be suffering from depression.
We all experience pain. We all deal with desperate times. But sometimes, we will eventually ask ourselves- do I have depression?
Depression is a complex issue that many people struggle with, and some people experience the grip of depression in different ways. The truth is, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), depression is one of the most common mental health disorders in the United States.
Do I Have Depression: The Definition
Because people experience depression differently, there are different forms of depression. Specifically we will focus on what the NIMH calls major depressive disorder or clinical depression.
According to NIMH Major depressive disorder/clinical depression is-
“a common but serious mood disorder. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working. To be diagnosed with depression, the symptoms must be present for at least two weeks.”
Some other variations of depression can develop under unique circumstances. These include but are not limited to:
- Persistent depressive disorder
- Perinatal depression
- Psychotic depression
- Seasonal affective disorder
- Bipolar disorder
There are other specific forms of depression recognized by the mental health community, but in general the common link is the feelings experienced during depressive periods.
Do I Have Depression: The Experience
In general, some describe depression as the feeling of living in a dark abyss or with a sense of impending disaster. Other people describe depression as a feeling of lifelessness, emptiness and apathy. Restlessness and anger are also common feelings associated with depression, particularly in men.
Over-all, the primary difference between depression and everyday sadness is that it can feel almost impossible to function when suffering from depression. It dominates daily life and impedes the individual’s ability to complete regular tasks. Just getting through a day can be overwhelming.
Probably one of the most unhelpful aspects of any discussion on depression is the stigma attached to it, because many people expect that depressed people are always walking around sad. Stigma shapes this image of people with depression being unkempt and gloomy, but the reality is so many people struggle with depression behind bigger smiles and a lot of people never notice.
Do I Have Depression: The Symptoms
While depression may not be as easy to spot as the stigma would have us believe, there are symptoms that may indicate a deeper issue with depressive disorders. The following signs and symptoms are common for people with depression:
- Consistently sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
- Loss of interest or pleasure in things you care about
- Fatigue and decreased energy
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, or making decisions
- Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
- Appetite and/or weight changes
- Thoughts of death
- Suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts
- Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
Not everyone who is depressed experiences every symptom on this list. An individual may only experience a few symptoms, while others may experience many. The frequency of signs may be a good indication as well. You may be suffering from depression if you experience these symptoms:
- Most of the day
- Nearly every day
- For at least two weeks
But a diagnosis of depression isn’t something to take lightly. There is a process best taken with professionals to get a clear and thorough understanding of what you are experiencing. The severity and frequency of symptoms and how long they last will vary depending on the individual and their particular disorder. Symptoms may also vary depending on the stage of the disorder. It can also co-occur with other medical illnesses and disorders, such as:
Dual diagnosis is important in order to fully understand how each illness impacts the other, and how to best treat the individual.
Do I Have Depression: What Do I Do?
Depression can be treated, even in the most serious and seemingly helpless cases. The sooner someone is able to get treatment, the more effective it can be. Many times depression is treated with psychotherapy, and sometimes with medication. Most would say that any medication should only be utilized in combination with some form of therapy, because antidepressants are not a cure. Also, this kind of treatment must be done at the prescription and direction of a physician, as most of these medications are powerful and sometimes dangerous.
Medication can also be especially dangerous for those struggling with substance use disorder. The truth is, most people who struggle with drugs or alcohol are also struggling with a mental health disorder like depression, and many times they self-medicate or abuse their medication which only magnifies the issues.
If you’re asking- do I have depression- then the best thing to do is to contact a mental health professional. Getting a diagnosis is essential to determining how to get the help you truly need. For those suffering with dual diagnosis like depression and addiction, the method of treatment is crucial to the recovery process.
Holistic recovery programs are designed to treat every aspect of someone’s life to assure them the best chance at a healthy and fulfilling future. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Hip Hop is much more than a genre of music, it is a culture that evolved from a street mentality subculture of various art forms in urban areas into a global diversity of people who have been able to identify and express to each other some of their most vulnerable and intricate feelings and experiences. Hip hop has been described as a simultaneously new and old phenomenon, and rap music is an element of hip hop that speaks to people with chanted rhymes on complex instrumentals.
When looking at a rap artist and their lyrics it is obvious that the music, and the culture are used as a method to express and raise awareness about issues in the community. We examine the works of rap artists to evaluate the message, and when we look close enough at some of the greatest and most celebrated hip hop artists, we can see some clear depictions of struggles with addiction and mental health.
Kendrick Lamar on Alcoholism
Kendrick Lamar is a rapper whose major-label debut album good kid m.A.A.d. city released in October of 2012 includes compelling stories that speak to mental health themes, including:
- Stress resilience
Tracks like ‘Swimming Pools’ address addiction and/or alcohol abuse in a way that is very powerful. From the very beginning the artists talks about growing up around people who have “lived their life in bottles”, even referencing his grandfather’s own drinking patterns. This relates to how exposure to alcohol use and abuse in one’s family and early life are genetic and environmental factors that can impact a person’s drinking habits.
In the song, Kendrick paints a picture of the reasons people drink or abuse alcohol, and some common themes such as:
- Fitting in
- Killing their sorrow
- The way it feels
- Peer pressure
Lamar’s latest album To Pimp A Butterfly, released in March 2015 gets even more detailed with issues like depression, stress and resilience. Specifically there are 2 interesting titles- ‘u’ and ‘i’.
In the song ‘u’, Lamar gives off the essence of a character in a drinking fit. Through this track there is the direct reference to depression, and Lamar’s character describes hopeless and suicidal thoughts.
Then the song ‘i’ comes from another angle, and speaks of overcoming stress and persevering through circumstances, as well as a resolution to love himself regardless of life’s trials.
Was Tupac Shakur Bipolar?
With mental health in mind we are now able to look at writers who were not “diagnosed” with bipolar disorder and by analyzing their work and threading similarities from previous artists, we imply the possibility that some pieces of Hip Hop’s artistic expression grow from a manic depressive brain, and the late Tupac Amur Shakur has an amazingly artistic and incredibly inspiring legacy, that some believe to have grown from a manic depressive mind.
Prior to his music career, Shakur was a published poet, and at 18 years old he published over a 100 poems in The Rose that Grew from the Concrete. Now Tupac Shakur’s “bipolar artistic expressiveness” does not mean Shakur is clinically bipolar. That being said, a look at his material opens the door to the “possibility” of him having been undiagnosed bipolar.
One poem was:
A YOUNG HEART WITH AN OLD SOUL
How can there be peace
A young heart with an old soul
How can I be in the depths of solitude
When there are two inside of me
This duo within me causes the perfect opportunity
To learn and live twice as fast
As those who accepts simplicity….
Shakur acknowledges a duality inside that can sit in solitude but can also take action and rise above the others that live in simplicity. He distinguishes himself from others, and acknowledges his dual personalities in a way that shows he means to explore them.
Shakur was infamously an artist who tested the limitations of social conformism and race relations in culture. He had angry lyrics, a sharp tongue, and sensitive poems. And he exposed his sadness as being ingrained in isolation and honest loneliness. Look at titles like:
- Me Against the World
- So Many Tears
- Only God Can Judge Me
Pac always delivers ideas reminiscent of depression and oppression with such heart, and you can’t help but feel the internal struggle in his voice. Shakur offended his audience, but he welcomed that rejection, and represented himself as a man who regretted nothing about his feelings. The bipolar theme of ego and confidence are present throughout his albums, mangled in with his feelings of distrust, loneliness and contempt for the injustice of the world he sees himself living in. I say this not to question his mental health, but just to point out that even someone as passionate and expressive as Tupac can be struggling with a disorder.
Eminem and Dual Diagnosis
Eminem, real name Marshall Mathers is a household name that lives in infamy in the Hip Hop community, and is probably the perfect example of dual diagnosis, which is when one has two co-occurring disorders. In his case it was an addiction to Vicodin (and other substances) in combination with what he himself often referred to as Bipolar Disorder, and possibly clinically-diagnosable depression.
Eminem was well-known for aggressive lyrics that dealt with mental health and drug addiction, and made references to his own intimate relationship with both. In his book The Way I Am he described his emotional reaction to the murder of Proof, a long time band-mate and best friend back in 2006, and talks about the pain it caused him and the strain it put on his career and how it impacted his drug abuse.
Like Marshall Mathers, millions of people are diagnosed with a mental illness and a substance abuse or dependence disorder, and do not get the correct dual diagnosis treatment they need. From all his prescription drug use, Marshall’s organs started shutting down and he nearly died, but he has now been clean for several years and has talked openly about his recovery.
When we take just these few examples into consideration we can see that rap music and hip hop culture are a living breathing expression of struggle, resolution, self-discovery and obsession. Rap has its own addictions and multiple personalities, from hardcore and underground to religious and progressive. These artists have found a way not just to express themselves, but to inspire others for generations to be aware of their own emotional state, risk behaviors and addictions, and some believe hip hop can actually help save lives. Hip hop has the power to teach us about ourselves, and at the same time it has the power to heal us if we can seek the truth in the words we hear.
(Drops the mic)
Music is just one way we share our feelings and find ourselves, and it is true drug use and addiction are closely involved with hip hop. But it is also true that we can chose to give a different power to the pieces of our lives, and it all begins with a step away from addiction toward recovery. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Justin Mckibben
Sometimes there is more to the man behind the manic depressive mask. Dual diagnosis can seem like a scary reality for many who suffer from a mood disorder that co-exists with sufficient substance abuse dependence, and for those trapped in the anguish of bipolar disorder and drug addiction it can feel like living your life like a sinking ship lost in a sinister sea of erratic emotion and emptiness. Sometimes we confuse the face of addiction with the face of mental health disorder, and vice-versa. But sometimes they are the same, and need to be taken at the fullest of face value.
Bipolar disorder, which has also been dubbed manic depression, is a very serious mental disorder. It is most commonly characterized by intense and unpredictable swings in mood, behavior and energy. Someone with bipolar disorder experiences alternating “highs” (what clinicians call “mania“) and “lows” (also known as depression), that can be brief, from just a few hours to a few days, or longer, lasting up to several weeks or even months.
Symptoms of Mania
- Moments of tremendous optimism and significant pessimism
- Grandiose feelings
- Rapid talking
- Little sleep
- Impaired judgment, irrational behavior
- Delusional behavior
Symptoms of Depression
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Loss of interest in things that used to make you happy
- Changes in appetite – eating more or eating less
- Suicidal thoughts
There is also Hypomania, which displays symptoms akin to those found in manic behavior, but less intense. Hypomanic individuals are usually capable of managing their day-to-day lives, but they experience a higher than usual level of happiness, irritability or energy.
Symptoms of Hypomania
- Higher than usual levels of happiness, irritability or energy
- A feeling that you’re capable of taking on more responsibility
- Feeling like you need less sleep
- You seem more talkative or sociable to others
- You are prone to engage in risk-taking behaviors, like substance abuse
Hypomanic periods can actually be extremely productive for some people, and because psychotic symptoms do not occur you may assume you don’t really have a problem.
Bipolar and Addiction
Bipolar disorder has an intimate relationship with addiction, and there is an astonishingly high rate of substance abuse for those who suffer from bipolar disorder. Their connection is a complex one, and there are a variety of possible motives.
One reason is that a large proportion of individuals attempt to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol do so with intentions of numbing the painful symptoms of their bipolar disorder. Many individuals will turn to drugs and alcohol as a means for offsetting discomfort, if only for a little while. The irony there is that the National Institute of Mental Health notes that drinking and using drugs could actually provoke depressed or manic moods in someone with bipolar disorder.
Clinical researchers believe that brain chemistry may influence both bipolar disorder and substance abuse. People with bipolar disorder frequently have irregular levels of chemicals in their brain that effect mood such as:
These chemicals affect vital functions including:
- Response to stress
Abusing alcohol or drugs typically interferes with the way your brain processes these chemicals, causing emotional instability, erratic energy levels and depression.
Many of the symptoms of bipolar disorder are similar to those of drug and alcohol abuse, so some people are incapable of seeing where the mental disorder stops and the addiction begins. They assume their primary issue lies with one or the other and they don’t realize the danger they are putting themselves in by ignoring the fact that they are in the grips of 2 illnesses that will collaborate and exacerbate each other to destroy and decay a life.
Dual diagnosis treatment is essential for people battling with bipolar disorder and addiction. It is critical to use drug and alcohol treatment professionals who recognize the importance of treating bipolar disorder and substance abuse at the same time through a more holistic approach, and relying on “integrated treatment” to address both conditions simultaneously instead of just treating one.
The toxic storm created when bipolar disorder and addiction collide can be earth-shattering. When substance abuse progresses in frequency or seriousness, or when highly dangerous drugs are involved, early intervention is essential. Trying to find your way out of such intricate circumstances can sometimes seem like a intimidating task, but recovery is the best way to find freedom.
Facilities such as Palm Partners specialize in dual diagnosis treatment understand the overlapping nature of bipolar disorder and substance abuse, and with the right recovery plan it is possible to overcome the disease of addiction and confront the chaos created by bipolar disorder. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135. We want to help, you are not alone.
By Cheryl Steinberg
Here’s a macabre statistic: almost 15 million Americans suffer from some form of major depressive disorder annually. People find mental illnesses like depression difficult to talk about and the negative stigma associated with it doesn’t make things any easier. Mental illness is just as legitimate as physical disease or injury but, because it goes unseen, it’s difficult to grasp. If you have major depression, you’re in good company with these 8 celebrities who have major depressive disorder (you might be surprised)…
#1. Ellen DeGeneres
Beloved talk show host and avid fan of dancing, Ellen DeGeneres was not always so wildly successful. Back in 1997, she decided to take the brave step of coming out on her semi-biographical sitcom, Ellen, and although the episode in which she made her big reveal was one of the highest-rated episodes of the show, Ellen’s ratings fell drastically the following season and it was soon cancelled.
During this time, DeGeneres faced a dark period in both her career and personal life. With a failed attempt at another show, The Ellen Show, (it was quickly cancelled); offers drying up; her personal relationships falling apart, it’s no wonder that DeGeneres’ mental health took a major blow.
Nowadays, though, it seems the actress-turned-talk show-host has won the battle with depression and Ellen has since become one of the most bankable television names in the world.
#2. Jon Hamm
Mad Men star Jon Hamm faced major depression early on, in his adolescence: his father died when the actor was 20 years old, leading to a deep depression. His struggle with depression lasted for years but he was always proactive with seeking help; Hamm says that both therapy and antidepressants helped treat his depression. About acting, Hamm has said: “The theater department seems to be the way station for the orphans and all the people who don’t fit in anywhere else” and it seems that he has put his early experiences with depression to good use while crafting his art. With a hugely successful acting career at his feet, it seems Hamm has finally arrived as a force in Hollywood. Recently, the actor completed a 30-day rehab program for alcohol addiction.
#3. JK Rowling
J.K. Rowling rose to fame with her whimsical and inspiring Harry Potter book series. Before long the books were a worldwide phenomenon and Rowling was the richest female author on the planet. But, before all of that, Rowling struggled with serious depression. The author would later admit that things got so bad for and that she even contemplated suicide.
Before she found her voice with writing, Rowling was a single mother struggling to make ends meet. She would scribble bits and pieces of what would become the Harry Potter epic on crumpled napkins in between jobs. She persevered and now the world has some amazingly touching and uplifting literature to show for it! It is said that Rowling, like Hamm, used her depression as inspiration – at least in part – while writing; a famous example of this is her concept of Dementors, which are “soul-sucking fiends” that act as guards in the magic world’s infamous Azkaban prison. The Dementors “drain peace, hope, and happiness out of the air around them” by performing the Dementor’s kiss, which works by sucking the happiness and soul from its victim.
#4. Brad Pitt
Another one of Hollywood’s most bankable actors to do battle with major depression is the ever-popular Brad Pitt. With credits like 12 Monkeys, Fight Club, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Moneyball, Inglourious Basterds, and the Ocean’s Eleven franchise to only name a few – or six – things weren’t always so great for the star.
Pitt revealed in the past that he fought depression back in the ’90s, telling the press that he felt like he was “wasting away” and that he turned into a “stoner” without any direction or ambition. Pitt says he was disgusted with his reliance on marijuana and that he sank into depression and self-loathing. Also around this time, Pitt’s marriage to Jennifer Aniston was on shaky ground and has said that that was another contributing factor when it came to his mental state. He has said that neither he nor Aniston really had what it took to be in a relationship together and that they “faked it” for a long time.
Pitt has reportedly said that his marriage with Angelina Jolie restored him so much that it completely changed his life around. Pitt has told reporters that Jolie “lives life” in a way that few others do and credits Jolie in getting him re-focused on his artwork and living a fulfilled life.
#5. Russell Brand
Russell Brand is no stranger to strife. The actor-and-comedian-turned-activist has battled addictions in the past, from drugs to sex – and celebrates more than a decade of continuous sobriety. But, also in the past, Brand struggled with both depression and bulimia, both of which he sought treatment for multiple times.
Brand draws on his own emotional turmoil for laughs and Brand is in good company (as far as this author is concerned) with the likes of Mitch Hedberg (RIP), Louis C.K., and Joan Rivers (RIP) – to name only a few. Nowadays, Brand channels his energies into positive, proactive endeavors by speaking out about addiction, recovery, and the need for support among fellow recovering addicts after they leave rehab.
#6. Winona Ryder
The 80s It-Girl went from being in the spotlight to the fringes of Hollywood in a New York minute. Her credits list Beetlejuice, Heathers, Edward Scissorhands, Dracula, and Girl, Interrupted (with Jolie) but a very public break-up with superstar Johnny Depp led to severe anxiety with depression. As a result, Ryder sought therapy and was even institutionalized for a brief stint due to her mental illness. And then there was the oh-so-public shoplifting incident, which must have dealt her a heavy blow.
It seems, though, that Ryder has made a bit of a comeback with her roles in Black Swan and the show Homefront. However, Ryder’s depression seems to be a pervasive force in her life as she refuses to take lead roles in film work due to the emotional stress that it puts on her.
#7. Pete Wentz
Fall Out Boy bassist and songwriter Pete Wentz routinely struggled with mental issues stemming back to his teens; he is diagnosed as having bipolar disorder and has taken medication for it since the age of eighteen. In 2005, while supposedly at the top of his game, the famous musician and a friend got loaded on alcohol and other drugs and ended up playing a grim game of Russian roulette. At one point, his depression got so bad that he tried to overdose on Ativan. Wentz detailed the story of his suicide attempt in an interview with Playboy:
“I was isolating myself further and further, and the more I isolated myself, the more isolated I’d feel. I wasn’t sleeping. I just wanted my head to shut off, like, I just wanted to completely stop thinking about anything at all.”
Wentz now has two children and a supportive girlfriend and credits a good support system of great friends with helping him keep his depression at bay.
#8. Catherine Zeta-Jones
Catherine Zeta-Jones has been waging a war with her own mental health for a while now and has a diagnosis of bipolar disorder type II – the depressive subtype of the disorder. The star of such films as Chicago and Oceans 12 experienced a serious bout of depression while her husband of 15 years, major Hollywood actor Michael Douglas, fought throat cancer. Douglas has said of his wife’s condition that he had no idea the extent of her suffering.
In April 2011, Zeta-Jones sought treatment for bipolar II disorder and checked herself into the high-end Silver Hill Hospital in Connecticut. The actress again sought help in treating her bipolar disorder by checking into a health care facility again in April 2013.
Zeta-Jones treats her major depression with therapy and medication.
Please don’t suffer in silence. There continues to be a negative stigma attached to depression and other psychological disorders however the tides have begun to change. Mental illnesses are just as real and just as painful – if not more so – as physical illnesses. Call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 to talk to someone today – or tonight. We’re here 27/7 to take your call.
By Cheryl Steinberg
The autopsy report of Robin Williams, following his tragic suicide, has revealed that there were no drugs – not even alcohol – at the time of his death.
If you’re like me, you might have thought that there was a possibility that the actor and comedian had relapsed, leading to his final demise. After all, it was well-known that Williams had a history of both alcoholism and drug addiction, namely cocaine. In fact, the beloved comedian was open about this aspect of his life. In a 2006 interview he told ABC’s Diane Sawyer of his addiction, “It waits. It lays in wait for the time when you think, ‘It’s fine now, I’m OK.’ Then, the next thing you know, it’s not OK.’”
Then there was the recent stint this past June in a rehab. But, not because he fell off the wagon, but in order to stay sober, according to People magazine.
His wife, Susan Schneider, had said he was sober at the time of his suicide. And now, the toxicology report released Friday by the Coroner of the Marin County Sheriff’s office proves it.
Sadly, it seems, the funny man was dogged by anxiety, depression, and a recent diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease.
Ms. Schneider released a statement Wednesday:
“Robin’s sobriety was intact and he was brave as he struggled with his own battles of depression, anxiety as well as early stages of Parkinson’s Disease, which he was not yet ready to share publicly.
It is our hope in the wake of Robin’s tragic passing, that others will find the strength to seek the care and support they need to treat whatever battles they are facing so they may feel less afraid.”
Rest In Peace, Mr. Williams. You are sorely missed.
If you are struggling with mental illness, such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder and have turned to alcohol or other drugs to help you cope, there is a better way. We can help. Palm Partners offers dual diagnosis treatment that serves to treat both mental illness and substance abuse simultaneously to get you on the path to healing and recovery. Please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 to speak with an Addiction Specialist, day or night. We are here for you.