2011.03.02 Kimberly Curey: Seek help when troubled by depression

Written by David Green.

“Dementors are among the foulest creatures that walk this earth. They infest the darkest, filthiest places, they glory in decay and despair, they drain peace, hope, and happiness out of the air around them...Get too near a Dementor and every good feeling, every happy memory will be sucked out of you. If it can, the Dementor will feed on you long enough to reduce you to something like itself...soulless and evil. You will be left with nothing but the worst experiences of your life.”

– Remus Lupin to Harry Potter (“Prisoner of Azkaban”)

For those that follow the Harry Potter phenomenon and J.K. Rowling, they know that the Dementors are her manifestation of the symptoms of depression. J.K. Rowling not only had depression, but felt suicidal during that time and she had this to say in the London Sunday Times in March 2008: “What’s to be ashamed of? I went through a really tough time, and I am quite proud that I got out of that.”

Undeniably, shame is one of the chief enemies when wrestling with thoughts of suicide or self-harming behavior. Why? Because it lessens the likelihood that persons experiencing the symptoms of depression will seek treatment.

The symptoms of depression do not differ, however, they may manifest or exhibit differently from person to person depending on the age, sex and stressors in a person’s life.

The symptoms needed to make an accurate diagnosis of depression are: a loss of interest in daily life; a loss of interest in activities that the person once enjoyed; unexplained or unintentional changes in appetite or weight; changes in sleeping habits and patterns; feelings of hopelesssness, helplessness or guilt; problems concentrating; recurrent thoughts of suicide; and unexplained fatigue.

In teenagers, the symptoms may be expressed as extreme irritability, hostility, muscle aches and pains, and in some cases self-harming behaviors. Teenagers may also begin experimenting with alcohol and drugs as a way to reduce the stress in their lives.

Deliberate self-harm is an expression of extreme distress. McAndrew and Warne state that deliberate self-harm behaviors are commonly associated with “self-poisoning (by drug and alcohol misuse), misuse of food, and self-mutilation.”

Self-mutilation behaviors include cutting, burning, scratching at the skin, banging or hitting body parts, interfering with wound healing, hair pulling, and ingestion of toxic substances or objects.

There is a debate about whether or not deliberate self-harm is equivalent to suicidal thinking and most researchers and clinicians believe that this is not the case. What is similar about them is that they are both forms of self-destruction.

White, Leggett and Beech report that in a 1992 study by Stanley, that a “self-harm spectrum” be used to determine what is suicidal behavior and what is not. He suggests that by taking into account the aggressiveness of the behavior, the degree or severity of the injury, and the capacity to resist the impulse to self-injure, that the distinction will be clearer than it is currently. He cautions that since intent is an extremely gray area that any terminology applied must be done with caution.

Suicide accounts for just over one percent of deaths in the United States, with the largest impact being on young people, for whom it is the third leading cause of death. About four to five percent report having made a suicide attempt and 13 percent have seriously thought about suicide. The most common reasons are depression or bipolar disorder which were left untreated.

For people who are feeing suicidal, the first step is to call someone. J.K. Rowling contacted her family physician. For those who are beyond this—someone who is actively suicidal—the appropriate step is to take that person to the local emergency room where trained professionals can be consulted and decisions can be made regarding the seriousness and necessary treatment of the individual in need.

– Kimberly A. Curey

Licensed social worker

Fayette, Ohio

  • Play Practice
    DRAMA—Fayette schools, in conjunction with the Opera House Theater program, will present two plays Friday night at the Fayette Opera House. From the left is Autumn Black, Wyatt Mitchell, Elizabeth Myers, Jonah Perdue, Sam Myers (in the back) and Lauren Dale. Other cast members are Brynn Balmer, Mason Maginn, Ashtyn Dominique, Stephanie Munguia and Sierra Munguia. Jason Stuckey serves as the technician and Trinity Leady is the backstage manager. The plays will be performed during the day Friday for students and for the public at 7 p.m. Friday.
  • Front.F.school
    PROGRESS continues on the agriculture classroom addition at Fayette High School. The project will add 2,900 square feet of space and include an overhead door that would allow equipment to be driven inside. The building should be ready for the start of school in August. Work on ball fields and a running track is also underway.
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    CLEARING THE WAY—Road crossings in the area on the construction route of the Rover natural gas pipeline are marked with poles and flags as preliminary work nears. Ditches and field entry points are covered with thick planks in many areas to support equipment for tree clearing operations. Actual pipeline construction is progressing across Ohio toward a collecting station near Defiance. That segment of the project is expected to wrap up in July. The 42-inch line through Michigan and into Ontario is scheduled for completion in November. The line is projected to transport 3.25 billion cubic feet of natural gas every day.
  • Front.geese
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  • Accident
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  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Face Paint
    FUN NIGHT FUN—Savanna Miles sits patiently while Abbie White works on a face paint design Friday during the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Gracie Snead watches the progress after having spent time in the chair. Abbie was one of several volunteer painters, each creating their own unique look. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.

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