Recognizing and Responding to Depression

As people with various disabilities, whether acquired or congenital, through accident or disease, we often lose friends, becoming isolated, labelled and judged, as a result of fear and misinformation.

This increases the likelihood of becoming depressed and caught up in a spiral of thoughts that drag us down into emotional and physical malaise. When people stare at us, want us to disappear, separate and segregate us, they treat us as the “worthy poor” from a book entitled Blaming the Victim.

Whether it is the death of a loved one or a lingering illness in the family, family crisis can be more traumatic for people with disabilities than the average person.

Disabled people also self-medicate with substances more than average to mitigate emotional distress. At SafePlace in Austin, Texas, trainers train service providers and advocates, as well as survivors, to notice signs of  trauma and depression.

The most important thing is to admit that you are depressed. Many of us, women and especially men, often don’t recognize that things are creeping up on them. By the time they’re in overwhelm mode and have reached a fever pitch, their ability to cope is compromised.

Imagine if you finally have the nerve to seek out help and you are met with a a dismissive attitude that’s borne of fear and ignorance. Ignorance around how to support your disability-related needs and the irrational fear of “catching” your condition.


discover that What happens when you try to receive assistance with it, and you are thrown out of groups because you become angry? Many therapists do not know how to counsel those of su who are blind.


Find out whether you have clinical, chronic, atypical, manic, seasonal, or psychotic depression. The quiz on this site is from

One thing to ask yourself as this website says is what do your symptoms look like? Do you have trouble concentrating? Do you have chronic pain? Has your appetite for food changed? Are you feeling isolated?

I did not see any panic or fear, and I have had that in my life many times. Is your depression more mild or severe? speaks about Thomas Jefferson’s “pursuit of happiness.” This website discusses positive psychology and improving your score for the quiz they offer on the website.

It mentions exercising for 20 minutes, sports activities and doing things for others every day, week, a few times a month, rarely or never. I personally enjoy taking these quizzes, and they may give you insight. The website says that happiness is attainable, achievable and able to be taught to us intractable humans.

One of the questions asks if your strengths are available to you, and if they are at your disposal, and you are aware of them, do you utilize them? Do you share your feelings with others?

There is also a screening at which assesses your level of depression, anxiety, bipolar and substance abuse, and assesses health conditions. The website also queries whether treatment has been received for various conditions including cancer, arthritis, and thyroid conditions as well as substance abuse. gives the different kinds of depression, symptoms, treatment and other information. Do you feel depressed most days in a week and most of the time? Your doctor might call this major depressive disorder or major depression. 

Do you experience:

  • weight gain or loss, 
  • loss of interest and pleasure in activities, 
  • trouble getting to sleep or 
  • sleeping during the day, 
  • either speeding up or slowing down, 
  • tired and without energy, 
  • feeling worthless or guilty, 
  • thoughts of suicide and 
  • trouble making decisions?

Your doctor might diagnose you if you have five or more of these symptoms, and loss of interest in activities and a depressed mood. It has to last for more than two weeks, and occur most days.

Bipolar depression used to be called “manic depression” and goes from the extreme of depression and mania. It is a serious condition, and usually the onset is from 15 to 24 years of age and last the life span.

The mania can cause hallucinations and rage, and can also be genetic. If the mood swings happen four times a year, it is called rapid cycling. There are distortions of perceptions and disturbances in thinking. Folks with these symptoms might have to be hospitalized.

Chronic depression is called dysthymia. Your genes may cause dysthymia. It is called chronic depression, and there may be periods of major depression, but it is milder and not as severe. It is called chronic since it lasts for at least two years. 

Genes might not be a cause of depression. Nerve cell pathways and abnormal functioning in brain circuitry that connect different brain regions regulating mood are also factors. Major life stressors, chronic illnesses, medications or work or relationship problems may increase the likelihood of dysthymia especially if there is a biological predisposition. 

The symptoms are not as intense as major depression, and not as long in duration. They include:

  • sadness most of the day and almost every day, 
  • major changes in appetite of 5%, loss of enjoyment in pleasurable things, 
  • insomnia or excessive sleep almost every day, 
  • being physically restless and run-down, 
  • fatigue and loss of energy, 
  • feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness, 
  • problems with concentration and making decisions and 
  • suicidal attempts, recurring thoughts of death, and 
  • suicide plan. 

Dysthymia is more common in women. For major depression, symptoms are similar, and treatment is either electroconvulsive therapy, or repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation. Talk therapy can work and so can anti-depressants. St. John’s Wort is an herbal remedy that can work very well.

This article is just an introduction to the major types of depression. Please use this as a guide to your symptoms or symptoms of other disabled people and families that you know .

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