Stress and Sadness

John is a 47-year-old gentleman. He is married and has 2 children, a boy of 10 yrs. and a girl of 7 yrs. He is trained as an engineer but is now running his own business. John’s older brother was diagnosed with cancer 2 years ago and tragically passed away within 8 months of his diagnosis. John’s parents are elderly and physically unwell and whilst he can support them financially, the time constraints of running the family business do not allow him to dedicate much of his spare time to his family. He experiences a lot of guilt about this, especially since his brother’s death.

John thought that despite all these difficulties, he had coped quite well with the additional financial, time management and emotional commitments placed on him in the wake of his brother’s death. Then, 1 month ago he discovered that one of his employees had been stealing from his business for several months and he is now having to deal with these additional financial and legal implications. He finds that he cannot concentrate on anything anymore. He is not able to complete tasks that he previously found easy, and this frustrates him immensely. He feels hopeless and is unable to experience enjoyment of anything anymore. He is tired all the time but still wakes in the middle of the night worrying about his current difficulties. He has become withdrawn, he feels lethargic and when something irritates him he often snaps or shouts unnecessarily. These outbursts are invariably followed by immense feelings of guilt at his behaviour, but the guilt does not stop him from reacting that way. Some days he thinks that perhaps it would be better if he also got cancer and died, at least that way he wouldn’t be such a drain on everyone anymore.

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John feels angry and emasculated by his perceived inability to manage his current emotions…after all he has coped so well with so much up until now. Surely if he could just pull himself together then everything will work itself out in the end?

Depression is an extremely common mental illness, although there is still a lot of stigma against mental illness in many settings. Depression is a disorder of mood whereby as a result of negative life events, medical illness and many other factors, a person has an inability to experience happiness or pleasure. A depressive episode can cause significant difficulties in concentration, sleep, memory, energy levels, appetite and libido which in turn can have serious impacts on a person’s ability to function or enjoy a good quality of life. In addition to this, a person who experiences depression is also at higher risk of developing other medical illnesses such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol (amongst others). Depression is not an inability to cope, a weakness, a failure or something that the affected person can “snap out of!”
Depression is a medical illness which can be managed with the correct assessment and an individualised management plan. People who have previously suffered a depressive episode are often more resilient and empathetic thereafter.

Some famous people who have suffered from depression include: Jim Carrey; Ellen Degeneres; Johnny Depp and Kerry Washington
With careful consideration and individualisation of management and the correct follow-up, people who have experienced depression can live “happily ever after.”

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