Why Aren’t We Talking About Postoperative Depression?

woman in hospital bed hands over face after surgery

Surgery can be a life-changing event, whether you’re treating an emergency medical condition or finally getting a procedure that changes the way you look and feel about yourself. In the whirlwind of presurgical paperwork and meetings and consultations, though, there’s one issue a care team may skip over: postoperative depression.

It’s a strange problem for people to forget to mention, because it’s not uncommon. In a 2000 feature for Harvard Magazine, surgeons described it as an “understandable complication.”

So why aren’t we talking about it? The answer is complex, and it involves a number of stops along a rabbit hole of twists and turns that leave patients unprepared for the emotional aftermath of surgery. While depression may be “understandable,” that doesn’t mean it should be ignored; and refusing to acknowledge that it’s a risk doesn’t resolve the problem.

It’s also very treatable. Prepared patients, particularly those with underlying mental health conditions, can be more proactive about managing it if they’re forewarned.

Clinical Health Psychologist Steven Tovian, who works at Northwestern University in Chicago in addition to maintaining a private practice, told Talkspace one reason postoperative depression falls by the wayside is limited research into the subject. Theories about what causes it may abound, but they aren’t backed by detailed, substantial research that explores the phenomenon and delves into ways to treat it.

Without that information, it’s both harder to treat and more difficult to convince surgical care teams that advising patients could be advantageous for recovery. Cultural attitudes within the medical profession also create a barrier to frank discussions about mental health for surgical patients, which is bad news for those at risk. Continue reading Why Aren’t We Talking About Postoperative Depression?

5 Things You Should Know About Depression and Christianity

man praying church bible

“Why doesn’t the church know what to do with depression?” That’s the question I’ve been asking myself since the moment I experienced my depressive episode. The perspectives about mental disorders vary greatly throughout the church.

This isn’t to paint the church with broad strokes, but generally, depression is a topic Christians tend to avoid in the community. Misconceptions about mental illness are pervasive throughout all aspects of our culture. Nonetheless, some of the “church-y” misconceptions about clinical depression come from a genuine desire to understand them through the scriptures. There are things, however, that well-meaning Christians tend to get wrong.

To sort out the conflicting rhetoric and misconceptions, here are a few things you should know: Continue reading 5 Things You Should Know About Depression and Christianity

How Depression Strengthened My Relationship With My Son

black father comforting son

Men are statistically less likely than women to seek help for mental health and to celebrate Men’s Health Week we’re highlighting issues specifically related to men and their mental health.  

It was my worst fear. I missed the opportunity to help my 15-year-old old son when he most needed me.

In 2015 I faced the worst depression of my life. It felt like I was in a dark and bottomless pit. I felt distant from myself and my family. Days went by and my most significant family interaction was sitting silently at the dinner table with my hoodie pulled over my head.

One of the oaths I swore to myself when I was younger was that I would use the lessons from my early experiences with depression to make life better for my kids. At the same time I was facing my depression, however, my son faced his own depression as a result of being bullied at school.

Thinking about that season of my life, I wish now that I had been able to think a little more clearly. Maybe I could have picked up on his signs and supported him? Maybe he would have had an easier time if we had talked more? Continue reading How Depression Strengthened My Relationship With My Son

Depression: How to Deal When It’s Not Just Seasonal

woman sunset depression

On cold, rainy days, you’re allowed to be miserable and lazy. It’s totally acceptable to stay in, nap, and watch Netflix all day. From the months of May through September, however, you’re supposed to get outside, enjoy the weather and be happy. You’re supposed to have the time of your life in summer! But what if your depression is so bad that you can’t get out from underneath your covers? What good will the sun do you then?

Though summer marks a victorious finish line for sufferers of seasonal depression (or, seasonal affective disorder), the new season brings little to no relief for people with major or clinical depression, since triggers and causes usually run deeper than lack of sun or daylight hours. In fact, I’ve probably been at my very worst during certain summers, when the only time I felt like my mood was matched was when I’d lock eyes with a fellow distressed commuter at 8:30 AM on a Monday in a packed subway car reeking of body odor. Depression is extra lonely in the summer.

Confession: I envy people with seasonal affective disorder. It even has a cute acronym, SAD — unlike MDD (major depressive disorder) which doesn’t discriminate when it comes to seasons. Not to minimize a very real and difficult condition, but personally, I’d trade my MDD for SAD any day. To know that my depression symptoms were limited to a specific time frame would make them more manageable. Plus, SAD often occurs during a season when it’s more socially acceptable to feel such things. People can understand depression in the winter (and love to say, “Wow, this weather is so depressing”), but it’s difficult for them to grasp how someone can be down in the dumps when it’s nice out. Continue reading Depression: How to Deal When It’s Not Just Seasonal

Dealing With Depression: What You Need to Know

woman sitting lake mountains landscape

If you are dealing with depression, remember that you are not alone. More than 300 million people around the world live with depression. It is the leading cause of disability.

Dealing with depression is a lifelong journey of overcoming pain, accepting change, challenging your mind, training your body, and engaging in something outside of yourself. To thrive during this sometimes harrowing journey, you might need knowledge of the strategies, treatments, and lifestyle changes that will help you. We outlined them below:

Treatment Options for Dealing With Depression

In-Person Psychotherapy

Working with a licensed psychotherapist in-person is an effective treatment for reducing symptoms of depression and learning to cope with depression, according to the American Psychological Association and many other credible institutions. A therapist can help clients with depression by:

  • Identifying events, negative beliefs, patterns, behaviors, and people that contributed to the development of the depression; then working on strategies to address these issues
  • Setting realistic, specific, and actionable goals for dealing with depression; then helping maintain accountability for these goals
  • Helping develop skills to cope with symptoms and problems

There are many types of therapy, and some might work better for you than others. Continue reading Dealing With Depression: What You Need to Know

14 Movies About Depression That Perfectly Capture the Experience

Anomalisa movie poster

More than 300 million people have depression, and each person has a unique story. It’s a mental health condition that manifests in a myriad of ways. It can make people feel lonely, detached, down or unmotivated, like there’s no point to anything. It can also spur them to act irrationally or destructively. We need movies about depression — among other works of art — to help us understand, humanize and sympathize with the many ways people experience depression.

If you’re interested in watching a movie featuring depression, it can be difficult to know where to start. There are hundreds of movies about depression, and thousands with strong themes of depression.

Rather than starting a subjective conversation about which movies are “best” in terms of the filmmaking (good writing, interesting characters, solid plot, etc.), we wanted to learn which ones would best enlighten you on the experience of depression. If you live with depression, you might identify with one or more of the characters in these films or they might provide your family and friends some insight into what you’re struggling with. Continue reading 14 Movies About Depression That Perfectly Capture the Experience

Ask Anna: Can I Support My Depressed BF Without Sabotaging Myself?

Anna Akbari advice column

Talkspace is pleased to introduce Ask Anna, a new Question & Answer column featuring Anna Akbari, sociologist and author of “Startup Your Life: Hustle and Hack Your Way To Happiness.” Send your mental health questions for Anna to [email protected].

Hi Anna,

When I first started dating my boyfriend, he was really ambitious, was a leader at his work, and was really excited about what he was doing. I feel like the combination of success and stress has made him flatline a bit. I’ve found that he’s gotten increasingly more agitated, less motivated, has lost his sense of ambition and is starting down a self-destructive path. On the weekends he is binge drinking and taking partying to a new level––the night always end in a fight or worse. Whenever I ask him how his day was, he says “it sucked” and completely shuts down. Every time I bring any of this up, he gets really defensive and refuses to talk about it.

I love him and want to help him, but I am at a crossroads. This is affecting me in a negative way and causing me to question our future together. How can I support him without sabotaging my own happiness?

– The supportive but not stupid girlfriend Continue reading Ask Anna: Can I Support My Depressed BF Without Sabotaging Myself?

Traveling with Depression: How I Should Have Prepared

woman backpack mountain

Mental health can be a journey. Journeying while struggling with mental health challenges, however, can be almost impossible.

In 2015 I traveled to Puno, Peru, to work on a research project as a part of my graduate degree in international public health. Before enrolling in the degree program, I had spent the better part of the previous two years traveling and living abroad in some capacity and was excited to have the opportunity to travel as a part of my career.

As my departure date to Peru creeped closer, I started seeing a therapist at the university health center to talk about concerns I had about traveling. I had experienced acute depression that year for the first time and was nervous it would creep back in while I was in a low-resource setting abroad. My in-person therapist told me many students feel this way before completing fieldwork abroad and I would be fine to push through.

I didn’t want my fears around my mental health to stop me from traveling. I wanted to be “strong.” So off I flew to Puno. Continue reading Traveling with Depression: How I Should Have Prepared

The Basics of SAD and How You Can Treat It: A Therapist’s Perspective

woman coffee light therapy

Many people with mood disorders, and those without, struggle in the cooler months with shorter days and much less sunlight. When the sun goes down, so does our energy and mood.

For those with Seasonal Affective Disorder [SAD], this change can be debilitating. The change in seasons and less daylight hours can lead to missed days from school or work, relationship problems and drastic changes in mood and weight. The effects of SAD can be devastating.

As a therapist, I come across many clients who experience symptoms such as these and come to understand these cluster of behaviors and experiences as SAD. As the summer months wind down, I can hear the worry and concern in their voices: “But what is winter going to be like for me?” Continue reading The Basics of SAD and How You Can Treat It: A Therapist’s Perspective

How Ricardo Used Talkspace to Overcome Depression, Anxiety and Abuse

Ricardo Talkspace headshot

Talkspace can change your life for the better. But how can you believe us until we show you?

Ricardo is one of thousands of people who use Talkspace to live a happier life and cope with mental health issues. Maybe his story will offer insights into how Talkspace could help you.

Ricardo’s Testimony

I came across Talkspace by accident as I was desperately searching for answers. I’ve suffered from depression and anxiety for many years and was in the middle of a serious bout with both. Continue reading How Ricardo Used Talkspace to Overcome Depression, Anxiety and Abuse