Webinar Event by Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
By Eugena Brooks

Symptoms of depression vary from person to person. People can have one, many or all symptoms. Depressive illness may take different forms such as major depressive disorder and bipolar. The most common symptoms include feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, sadness, thoughts of suicide, loss of interest in things of pleasure, concentration issues, loss of energy, appetite, weight changes and a close relationship with sleep disorders. Depression can also come with anxiety, low self-esteem as well as physical issues like back pain, headaches and gastrointestinal problems.

The Depression and Bipolar Alliance recently hosted an afternoon gathering and webinar event called Well Beyond Blue: Campaign to Change the Definition of Wellness. The event featured people suffering with depression, bipolar and other comorbidities. The discussion included how these issues impact the quality of life, treatments based upon research findings in current practice, and how that falls short of what else needs to be considered, researched and addressed. Further information about The Well Beyond Blue webinar event can be found at www.dbsalliance.org

Depression and Sleep:
We all get the “blues” every now and again, especially during difficult or traumatic experiences; it’s part of being human. However, persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety, hopelessness and disinterest in things once loved and enjoyed indicates the disorder of depression; a disease that affects twenty million Americans.

Depression can’t be ignored. It won’t go away after a while. Depression is a serious disorder that affects everything about you. How you eat, sleep, feel and think. What causes depression is unknown, but it can be managed effectively with treatment. In relation to sleep disorders for some of us the depression sets off the sleep disorder but in others the sleep disorder comes first. Along with that the two could share risk factors and other biological features but the two conditions may also respond to similar treatment strategies. Because symptoms overlap between depression and sleep disorders misdiagnosis can occur. A depressed mood can indicate insomnia, OSA or narcolepsy. According to the Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) Foundation, 40% with RLS complain of symptoms like depression. A study of 18,980 people done in Europe resulted people with depression were five times more likely to suffer from sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), the latter being the most common. What’s good to know is that treating OSA with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) may improve depression as well. Another study in 2007, of OSA patients using CPAP treatment over a year showed improved results in symptoms of depression as significant and lasting.

Children and Adolescents:
In children and adolescents many that suffer from insomnia or hypersomnia (excessive sleepiness) are more likely to have severe or long-lasting depression; and more likely to suffer from weight loss, impaired movement and anhedonia (inability to feel pleasure). In addition, research has revealed that children from ages 11 to 17 discovered a strong association between negative moods and sleep issues. Of the adolescents that reported being unhappy, 73% also reported not sleeping enough at night.

Women and Elderly:
Depression effects all types of people around the world but does affect some groups more likely than others. For example, women and older adults. The elderly are thought to be more susceptible to depression due to the higher rate of physical illness. With women there are motherhood and hormonal issues. Both women and the elderly have higher rates of insomnia leading to depression.

My Story:
In my experience I didn’t even get it at first. A few years back I went to therapy for an evaluation to update my disability status. When asked by the therapist why I was referred. Rather annoyed I responded that I had not a clue since I was physically disabled. So, she asked about my condition which annoyed me even more as I explained. Then she asked how becoming disabled had impacted my quality of life and (even more annoyed) again I explained. Then she popped the magic question: That doesn’t bother you? Forgetting that depression effects mood I went off. Looking back on it I got it.

Lurking under the surface of it all was my depression. Hiding behind my intellect and reasoning. Slipping in and out of my determination to be strong and resilient. I was angry l because I was out of my true element and felt tricked. My life had changed and become something I hadn’t bargained for. I was feeling hurt, cheated, scared and yes, very depressed.

Due to depression I hated everything about being me. I was disabled and felt useless. I was in denial of what I could, should and needed to do. I had given up on the notion of ever getting better and so I didn’t. I got worse and kept getting worse until going to therapy I learned to practice acceptance and then reconnected to my natural strengths.

Only then was I able to deal with my health situation as it was and make it better. I started taking my medications regularly, using my CPAP religiously, and taking my ability to improve my health seriously. It wasn’t long before I noticed using the CPAP that I felt more energized. My general viewpoint was better. I began to look for things to do and get involved. All of which led to you reading this blog written by me. Isn’t it interesting how things change and improve when you are able to as Patti Labelle sang ‘get a new attitude.’ Like another old song says, ‘What a difference a day makes.’ By the way before I became disabled and depressed, I used to love to sing. Can you tell?

Have you ever wished that you could tell the people who research, develop and regulate medical product treatments for health issues what outcomes are important to you? Have you ever thought that these researchers, developers and regulators just don’t get it? Those of us suffering with health issues usually do. The first and best tactic to change this problem is for those of us impacted by an illness or disability is to join a real time or an online community relevant to what we are dealing with and participate in the activities and share our stories. The more information available the better for all of us in terms of treatment.

Check out our forum chat about this and more: http://talk.sleeptember.org/c/sleephealth/mental-health-sleep