When it comes to dealing with depression, let’s do the right thing

I know very little about Senator Fetterman but he did the right thing! His action of voluntarily checking himself into a hospital to receive help should be applauded..

On February 16, 2023, Pennsylvania Senator John Fetterman checked himself into Walter Reed Hospital due to clinical depression. One of his senior aides said that Fetterman would remain hospitalized for "likely less than two months" while he underwent treatment.

Fetterman has stated that he has experienced depression on and off throughout his life. Previously, he had suffered a major stroke during the 2022 primary election campaign that’s caused auditory processing problems he is trying to recover from.

I know very little about Senator Fetterman but he did the right thing! His action of voluntarily checking himself into a hospital to receive help should be applauded.

He is not alone in his battle against depression.

Approximately 280 million people in the world have depression. Depression is different from usual mood fluctuations and short-lived emotional responses to the challenges of modern-day life. It can cause the affected person to suffer greatly and function poorly at home, at work, or at school. At its worst, depression can lead to suicide.

Many married couples fall victim to one spouse battling depression. It is important that each of us knows how to recognize signs of depression in our spouse or loved one. Thankfully, opportunities for recovery are there, but we need to recognize the signs.

Here’s an example of depression, courtesy Martha and Max.

Martha didn’t think much of Max’s declining interest in spending time together at first. But eventually, it became “routine,” day after day after day. Every evening after work, Max disappeared into his office or stayed on the computer until long after Martha had finally gone to bed. Every day, Martha found herself hoping for some interaction with her husband, but he had become entrenched in his routine. She invited him to have dinner with her or just sit down and watch a tv show but he always declined. Martha finally confronted Max about how his lack of interest was affecting their marriage. The results: he got angry and retreated even further.

Max was depressed.

When your mate or someone close to you has depression, you can also get caught up in those cycles. It is all too common but so many suffer silently – and their mates suffer as well. Each of us can help by being aware of the signs of depression and by encouraging them to get the help that they need. A depressed individual can rediscover their joy.

How Can You Recognize When Your Mate Has Depression?

We see those closest to us in a way others cannot see nearly as clearly. We may be the first to recognize that they are experiencing symptoms of depression, sometimes even before they recognize it in themselves.

Here are some common signs of depression, but they are not all-inclusive. God created each of us uniquely and our experiences, actions, and reactions are all unique. But be observant of changes in your mate’s moods, habits, and thought patterns. (As well as your own).

- Feelings of hopelessness
- Loss of interest
- Changes in appetite and weight
- Mood swings
- Anxiety
- Abnormal sleeping patterns
- Thoughts about suicide and death

Depression often comes with a sense that there is no hope to overcome the present sad state of being. People with depression can experience feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt for no reason, self-hate, and disappointment. These thoughts and feeling make it difficult to engage with life and feel motivated to move forward.

Depressed individuals (like Max) often lose interest in things and activities they used to enjoy. Hobbies, relationships, social life, intellectual pursuits, self-care, and even sex become passé. They can be at a loss to explain themselves, then proceed to withdraw while avoiding interactions and responsibilities.

You can help a spouse or a loved one through depression, but please do not try and take responsibility for their recovery. Oftentimes, people need help beyond what a loved one can provide. And it’s okay to seek professional help.

How many times must we turn on the news and see the horrors of suicide, homicide, and so many awful acts that could have been avoided if someone simply had the presence of mind and the confidence of spirit to SEEK HELP? We live in a fallen world, and we must remember that it’s okay to not be okay.

How can we help those we love who suffer from depression? First of all, BE KIND. Don’t tell them to “Snap out of it!” Don’t you think they would if they could? The chemistry of depression is complicated and could involve neurotransmitters that misfire and impact one’s mental and emotional health. Let’s be kind to one another; we may someday walk in those shoes.

We can listen, and we can encourage them to seek outside help. But we must also set boundaries and take care of ourselves. It’s also of utmost importance to respond to emergencies. If there is a chance that someone close to you is at risk of suicide or might do harm to someone else, please call 911 or suicide hotline 988.

Senator Fetterman is married and shares three precious children with his wife, Gisele. Mrs. Fetterman recently wrote on Twitter, "Society's expectations and traditional gender roles play a part in why men are less likely to discuss or seek help for their mental health. As always, John continues to challenge the conversation."

Senator Fetterman did the right thing. We pray for his full recovery, and that many will see the example he set and follow suit. Depression and mental illness are not going away. Let’s do ourselves and others a favor – let’s be informed and do the right thing!

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