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November 23, 2020 Depression & Suicide

Karla Meikle, Extension Agent/4-H Youth Development

 

Dates to Remember:

November 30: Coping Skills for Kids, Zoom

December 1: BSC Ag Marketing Club, 7-9pm, Zoom

December 1: District Crop Improvement Meeting, 9am-12pm, Zoom

December 1: Income Tax Management Webinar, 1-5pm, Zoom

December 1: 4-H Leader Workshop, Zoom

Depression & Suicide

A colleague of mine recently had a post on her social media account about two suicides in young adults in her community.  This struck me as a concern and I know that the current situation we are in with the Pandemic could have been a contributing factor.  The lack of social activities for youth, a feeling of loneliness and opportunities to just be “normal” is a struggle not only for youth but for adults as well. 

I was diagnosed with depression in the summer of 2005.  I used to cry a lot for no reason and be down on myself for no reason.  My days were spent going to work, spending roughly twelve to fourteen hours there and then retreating to my home where I would sit in the dark and cry or might turn on the television and watch until I fell asleep.  I never once thought of hurting myself, although that was one of the questions on the evaluation questionnaire they give you and I never once thought of hurting others. 

My parents didn’t understand what I was going through and it wasn’t until my Dad attended a pesticide training in Valley City that he came to understand what Depression is about.  The red flags I was throwing out where somehow understood by my Dad that day and he and Mom made sure I got the help I needed.  It is a hopeless feeling until you understand what is going on.  Depression and Anxiety are nothing to be ashamed of and my Dad said that after he understood and talked with people he was surprised how many friends in his circle where either diagnosed with depression or knew someone that were being treated for depression. 

I share my personal experience because depression and suicide tend to increase around the holidays and I work with many youth in our community who don’t understand what Depression is and are ashamed to ask for help.   This year especially, it is important to check on your neighbors, ask our youth how they are doing and just be aware.  NDSU Extension, Mental Health America of North Dakota and the North Dakota Department of Health have resources available to help and I encourage you to reach out if you have questions.

Clinical depression is a serious illness for both men and women.  Depression can affect your behavior, general health, thoughts and feelings.  The statistics are staggering, 1 in 4 Americans are diagnosed with a mental illness at any given time.  Often times they develop at an early age when our brains aren’t fully developed, around age 25 and when we don’t understand what is happening to us.

There are three types of depression

  • Major depressive disorder,  with or without psychotic features
  • Dysthymia
  • Minor depressive episode

Symptoms of clinical depression

  • Persistent sad,  anxious or "empty" mood
  • Sleeping too much or too little, waking up in the middle of the night or early waking
  • reduced appetite and weight loss or increased appetite and weight gain
  • Loss of pleasure in activities once enjoyed
  • Restlessness or irritability
  • Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment such as chronic pain or digestive disorders
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Feeling guilty,  hopeless or worthless
  • Thoughts of suicide or death,  including suicide attempts

Depression is very treatable.  Early treatment is most effective, but in other cases treatment is available for all stages of depression.  It is also important to create a community where youth can make healthy decisions and feel supported.  Research shows positive role models can create a healthy environment whether that is at home, school, work or social setting. 

Some resources include:

Parents Lead http://www.parentslead.org/communities/effective-prevention

North Dakota Prevention https://prevention.nd.gov/what-works

NDSU Extension https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/cff/resources-for-emotional-and-mental-health

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