sad woman beside wall

Debunking Myths About Depression

What is depression? There are no outward physical symptoms, there; isn’t even a biological test to properly diagnose it. Is it just an excuse to get a license to use medical marijuana or a support pet? Is it an excuse to collect disability? Depression may be hard to prove, but its effects certainly seem quite evident. Suicides and attempted suicides are the most commonly discussed, but depression can also play a big part in quality of life and forming relationships. For those who are still unsure about the reality of depression, here are a few common myths about the condition, and the reality behind them.

Depression is a Sign of Mental Weakness
In order to fully understand depression, we need to accept that no one wants to be depressed. It is a result of a mental disorder and, if anything, it takes great mental strength to work through daily.

Depression is Brought On My Traumatic Events
While certain circumstances can trigger episodes of depression, the events do not cause depression. While it is true that upsetting experiences can make a person sad, a negative emotional reaction is normal, and does not necessarily point to any abnormality. However, when symptoms persist for longer than two weeks, and reoccur frequently, it may be cause for a depression diagnosis.

Depression is Not a Real Illness
While there are no outward physical signs of depression, it is very real and does have a scientific explanation. According to the Mayo clinic, depressed people have differences in their brains and hormone and neurotransmitter imbalance that determine both their condition and its severity.

sad woman on outdoor steps

Depression is a Figment of Your Imagination.
Even though depression is a condition widely associated with a person’s mental state, it may go deeper than that. The National Institute of Health points to severe cases in which sufferers may experience insomnia, fatigue, muscle aches, and chest pain. Promoting the idea that depressions only a mental illness is simply downgrading its severity.

Men Don’t Suffer Depression
According to statistics, women are two times as likely to develop depressive symptoms than their male counterparts. However, this does not in any way exclude men from the illness. Middle aged white men have shown the greatest increase in numbers of suicides committed annually. The reason for the misconception is the tendency for men to express their depression differently from females, which make it easier to overlook. Male stereotypes about strength and stability cause men to feel less comfortable about calling attention to their depressive states.Depression can actually be more dangerous for men, because they tend to engage in substance abuse as a form of self-medication and avoid seeking treatment.

Antidepressants Will Cure Depression
Depression is not a “one size fits all” condition, and does not have a “one size fits all” cure. Antidepressants may be a common treatment option prescribed by doctors, but not every depressed person responds the same way to the same pills. Some people opt for psychotherapy, in combination with or independent of medication to alleviate depression. Many people have to try different methods of treatment before arriving at the one which works best for them.

Do you or a loved one struggle with depression? If so, tell us what challenges you face and how you overcome them.

woman with vitiligo

Vitiligo May Soon See New Treatment Options

Even in these days of positive body imaging, conditions such as vitiglio remain a challenge. While many women have come out in the shared desire to be appreciated despite weight issues, there is not such a platform for those with skin pigmentation conditions, which tend to be less common and less publicized. Sufferers of vitiglio often struggle with low self esteem, and are often the objects of unwanted attention in public places. Building awareness and acceptance about such condition is important, as is trying to find new treatment approaches. Here are some new thoughts and insights into the genetic disorder.

Genetic Predisposition
With new research comes new hope. Pearl E Grimes, MD and director of Vitiglio Pigmentation Institute of Southern California says that with the advancement of genetic research in the past ten years, “We now know that probably 90% of the genes the have been identified in vitiglio are immune-susceptibility genes, 10% are pigment related genes.” Because the condition is so often genetic, it can lead to “sick melanocytes.” This means, “Melanocytes from people with vitiglio do not grow as well in culture. There are probably some inherent defects in these melanocytes that may tie back to the genetics of the disease.”

Oxidative Stress
Another finding of the latest research points to oxidative stress as the event that starts off the immune dysfunction that culminates in vitiglio. Grimes says, “In vitiglio, we know that hydrogen peroxide is up, while catlase – a major oxidative stress fighting molecule is down.” The lack of the body’s ability to protect against oxidation may be what leads to the release of the antigens that play a role in destroying the melanocytes that lead to vitiglio.”

Raising Awareness
Dr Grimes relates a story of a beautiful 40 -year- old patient whose face caused a toddler to cry. “In response to that incident,” the patient said, “I don’t go out. I don’t date anymore, I have isolated myself, and I feel ugly.”

Grimes explains that vitiglio patients require a very long initial consolation. She says, “We take a very detailed history-looking at family history, a time of disease onset, disease progression, associated symptoms, associated autoimmune illnesses, and medications to tease out any other causative factors that may be contributing to pigment loss.”

Besides uncovering the physical causes, Dr. Grimes also stresses addressing the psychological impact of the condition. She steers aways from direct, overly probing questions, saying, “I go about it in a subdued, roundabout way -trying to let them talk about it first. I want them to be comfortable.” Instead of asking about the impact of the disease on the patient’s quality, she prefers to inquire about changes in daily routines. “Some will say, ‘I wear makeup all the time, even on my hands.'”

After performing a complete physical exam with photos and a laboratory assessment, Grimes reports that she is, “able to put together a treatment regimen based on the patient’s symptoms.” She is also able to assemble a health care team is needed, including a rheumatologist, immunologist, and mental health professional.

What can you do to raise awareness about vitiglio? Are these findings promising? Let us know what you think.