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News Depressed? There's Relief, Hope, Support

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A co-worker has written a gripping story about her battle with clinical depression. It was only after her diagnosis and treatment that she realized her mother had probably battled this disease her whole life.

Mental illness is recognized now as that: an illness. And it is being studied and probed to dissect its genetic roots. Yes, your mother or your family can have a tendency toward mental illness, can be mentally ill. But in addition to investigating the genes that may play a role in developing these conditions, scientists are also studying environmental, psychological and developmental factors.

Why do some people get them and others don't? Why do people who may be predisposed to get them never develop them, never encounter triggers that set them off?

"Genetic studies may help explain why some people exposed to trauma develop PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and others do not," says a document posted on the Web site of the National Institute of Mental Health.

There are many types of mental illness and many variables in certain conditions, depression being one of them. Anxiety is another.

The brain is a complex organism, and "several parts of the brain are key actors in the production of fear and anxiety," the NIMH Web site states.

I am particularly interested in that section.

Anxiety disorders appear to run in my family. I eventually developed a condition known as generalized anxiety disorder, with panic disorder as a side dish. I recovered, thankfully, with little medication and by going through a course in what is known as cognitive behavioral therapy. I was lucky, like my co-worker, to find a therapist in my area who specialized in this condition.

Like my co-worker, it was only after my diagnosis and treatment I realized that my mother had likely had this condition. She refused to drive on the interstate, she refused to go through tunnels. There were probably lots more indications that I, as a child, was unaware of.

I see similar "symptoms" in my cousins. But as with other mental illnesses -- anxiety disorders are probably the most common of them -- they don't want to be told about the condition or seek treatment.

That touches on another issue my co-worker raised: stigma.

Anyone who has developed some form of this illness, no matter how mild, is faced with the possible stigma that can come with revealing it.

People are either in denial about their own problems or are unreasonably afraid.

The good news is that many people are successful in dealing with anxiety and other mental disorders through therapy alone.

But for those who need medication, there is other good news.

The NIMH just released the results of a preliminary study that found that people with treatment-resistant depression may have a new option: an intravenous medication that relieved symptoms in as little as two hours when conventional medications can take weeks.

Relief. Hope. Support. That's the perfect combination for overcoming mental illness.

Source: Associate Press
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