A Spectrum of Depression

Blank.

Each time I go to write, I get a blank.  Is it a blank, because I feel as if I don’t have anything important to say.  Or is it a blank, because if I make a certain statement, then it is real.  It becomes something tangible in this world, not only for me, but for others, and I will eventually have to come nose to nose with it.

I’ve grappled with this before.  Making certain admissions.  I do not lie as much as I turn a blind eye.  I rationalize.  I attempt to will it out of existence.  But, it is just not that easy.

Simply – I am in the midst of a depressive episode.

Why was that so hard?

There is a certain hesitation for me to use the word depression.  It is not a word that I use loosely; others use it as a part of their regular vernacular to describe sadness.  Depression is not sadness.  Depression has a depth beyond that of sadness, loneliness, isolation, self-loathing, or any other word.  No amount of words arranged in any way can accurately depict depression, and do it any kind of justice.

The hesitation to term it as depression stems from the idea that, if it doesn’t feel like the worst I’ve ever felt, then it’s not depression.  I have faced more gruesome depressions than this one.  With the admission comes a certain fear.  If I am to term it as a depressive episode, then it really will be such, in the worst sense of that word.  It could worsen the episode itself by acknowledging it.

Blank.  Again.

I have found it so interesting that Bipolar Disorder has this grandiose spectrum to encompass so many different types and symptoms.  However, they are exclusive to mania.  Depression is just depression, and it by itself is MDD, or unipolar depression.  Except, now psychologists are starting to recognize symptoms that are related to atypical depression.  However, by reading through these symptoms, it seems as if it may be exclusive to unipolar depression.

How much research has been done to distinguish unipolar depression from bipolar depression?  So far, the only thing that separates the two is the existence of hypomania / mania.  In theory, there wouldn’t be a difference.  I get the feeling that there is, and it is significant enough to have a separation between the two.

So far, the mood spectrum looks like this:

But, I really think that’s being too broad about it.  I fall smack dab in the middle of Bipolar II, no full on psychosis equals no full on mania, even if I have delusions.  I wouldn’t even suspect that I have full on mania, anyway.  Even with delusional thinking, I can honestly say that there has never been a time where I have been hypomanic where I lost touch with reality.

People with mood disorders are familiar with the depressive symptoms.  But, I’ll sum them up:

Sadness, anxiety, irritability,  Loss of energy,  Feelings of guilt, hopelessness, or worthlessness,  Loss of interest or enjoyment from things that were once pleasurable,  Difficulty concentrating,  Uncontrollable crying,  Difficulty making decisions,  Increased need for sleep,  Insomnia, Change in appetite causing weight loss or gain, Suicidal ideation, and / or Attempting suicide.

Symptoms of atypical depression:

Increased appetite, Unintentional weight gain. Increased desire to sleep. Heavy, leaden feeling in the arms and legs, Sensitivity to rejection or criticism that interferes with your social life or job, Relationship conflicts. Trouble maintaining long-lasting relationships, Fear of rejection that leads to avoiding relationships, Having depression that temporarily lifts with good news or positive events but returns later

These are all familiar.  I’ve bolded the ones that I’m experiencing at the moment.  It seems that I’m bordering on the more atypical part of depression.  This is the kind of depression that no one really tells you about.

I had mentioned my diagnosis of Bipolar II, resulting from non-psychotic “manias” clinically termed “hypomania”.  Fair enough.  Let me put a question out there.  Has anyone ever experienced a psychotic depressive episode?

I have.  And I have mentioned this to doctors on several occasions.  I will have breaks with reality when I am depressed.  I have severe delusions, almost completely the opposite of delusions of grandeur.  I will have severe paranoid episodes – in fact, I just had one.  I can have myself convinced that everyone hates me and is out to destroy my life.  It makes me combative.  I will sometimes invent conversations that never happened, just because my brain contorts a criticism.

Mayo Clinic appended this in fine print below their list of classical depressive symptoms:

When a person with psychosis is depressed, there may be delusions of guilt or worthlessness — perhaps there is an inaccurate belief of being ruined and penniless, or having committed a terrible crime.

Perhaps?  I’m nearly positive that exists because not enough research on bipolar depression versus unipolar depression exists to accurately differentiate between the two.

There are a few questions that remain.  Again, not to just the bipolar population but the unipolar population as well, have you ever experienced a psychotic depressive episode?  Is this more commonly found in MDD, BP II, or BP I?

Because if this is common amongst all populations, then the mood spectrum should look more like this:

Perhaps a more accurate model

Mind-Reading: A Futuristic Possibility

I’m not typically one to report the news.  In fact, I tend to keep my opinions on religion, politics, parenting, and most other volitile subjects to myself.  But, this was entirely too disturbing.

An article on CNN’s belief blog entitiled Keep Government Out of Mind-Reading Business caught my eye this morning.

How would you feel if someone where able to reach into your brain and extract any information that they wanted to?  I would feel pretty violated.  I’ll admit, I still feel pretty violated after an invasive exam.  But, mind-reading goes above and beyond any procedure.  My mind is my mind.  The end. 

I see the practical applications of this technology.  It would provide more accurate lie detection in law enforcement and aid in national security.  It could solve crimes without sufficient physical evidence and out possible terrorists.  All of these things could help make our society safer.

But, how invasive is too invasive?  I agree with the author, Paul Root Wolpe, in his sentiment that our legal system is already incredibly invasive when it comes to violating our human rights.  Once we are a suspect, it seems as if our civil rights go out the window.  We become subject to searches in every aspect of our physical and internet lives.  In fact, there was just a story about how a judge ordered a divorcing couple to swap Facebook passwords in order to collect evidence against one another.  It goes down to even providing DNA samples.  We are fingerprinted for jobs now.

Again, I see the useful and probably life-saving application of these measures.  But, it’s completely unnecessary.  Some may retort, “Why would it be a problem if you have nothing to hide?”  This is where mental health concerns come into play.  The differences in brain chemistry between a typical brain and an affected brain would become apparent in these mind-reading brain scans.  Then, do we become profiled?

It’s already bad enough that many of us hide in the corners of the internet, safely writing behind our screens.  This is all out of fear that someone will discover that we have (insert disorder here), and then the sensitive information is in someone else’s hands to do whatever they want with it.  We can go on about how this information is protected under HIPPA and The American’s With Disabilities Act.  However, we’ve seen people circumvent the law before.  I’ve seen people use the knowledge of my disorder against me in many different ways and make my existence unbearable.  Why should I be in favor of someone extracting this information by accident?  Ben Franklin once said, “The only way to keep a secret between three people is if two of them are dead.”

We would become profiled.  I’m sure it would be notated in some government file somewhere that would come back to haunt us.  I can only imagine it.  I go to renew my clearences for work, and I’m denied.  Why?  Because someone, somewhere in the chain of command sees me unfit for my job.  Ridiculous, but true.

Your thoughts?