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Heart disease kills millions of Americans each year. It is the leading cause of death for both men and women. The most common heart disease in the United States is coronary artery disease (CAD), which leads to heart attacks. One way to reduce your risk of CAD is to make some lifestyle changes, such as healthy eating, stress management and physical activity.   Physical activity is an essential part of being heart healthy. The American Heart Association (AHA) says you need at least 150 minutes of moderate....

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If you’re looking for a safe, effective program that will help you get toned, become more flexible or lose weight, personal training could be for you.  A personal trainer will teach you proper form and technique to keep you safe and injury free. But first, he or she needs to know what your goals are – whether you want to lose weight, get healthy and tone up or train for bodybuilding, fitness competitions or powerlifting. Perhaps you’re an older person who wants to work on balance and stability.

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drive himself deeper into despair.


Modern psychiatry defines depression as a morbid sadness, dejection or melancholy. It is distinguished from grief, which is proportionate to personal loss. Treatment for depression can be difficult. It is aimed in part toward helping the patient understand the underlying cause of his depression. The severely depressed person often expresses one or more of three basic feelings associated with his mental state: a lack of desire to socialize, which leads to physical inactivity; feelings of worthlessness and a loss of self-esteem; and thoughts of self-injury or destruction.


Mark’s response to those who believe depression is not a “real” condition is withdrawal.


“I try not to argue or try to convince,” he says. “I try to hide the condition from others as best I can. Generally, I am successful in doing this. Perhaps part of the reason I try to hide it is my own sense of shame or fear that if others knew the real me, I would be thought of as damaged goods or not quite measuring up.”


Mark does not think he will ever be free of depression. Currently he is on a blend of four drugs. He dislikes being on medication indefinitely, but he finds this combination the most helpful he has had. He declines to see a psychiatrist for fear he will end up on some medical information clearinghouse list as having a “deep psychological problem.” The opinion would almost certainly damage him professionally.


Is depression real? Yes, it is. In addition, as Mark says, “It is a difficult cycle.


*Name has been changed.

Mark* suffers from depression. “I have times when I am more down than others, but the [down] feeling is always there,” he says.


He remembers only two occasions in his life when he was entirely free of that feeling. One was when he was elected to his local school board, a post he held successfully for years. The other was when he was best man at a friend’s wedding. “On those two occasions, I felt I totally belonged and [was] accepted,” he says.


What is clinical depression? How does it differ from the feelings of discouragement or being “down in the dumps” that everyone experiences from time to time as a part of normal emotional swings? Is it a real illness or is it an attitudinal problem?


By the time he was a young adult, Mark realized what he was experiencing was more than normal mood swings. He mentioned it to his father, who sneered and said, “To think that a son of mine would have such a viewpoint. That’s no medical issue. That’s an attitudinal issue that you could change if you wanted to.”


Deeply disappointed, Mark never told his father about his problem again. Instead, he lapsed into denial and did not seek treatment. Years later, his “patient wife” insisted he get help. Mark believes if it were not for

DEPRESSION EBBS AND FLOWS

MARTHA EVANS SPARKS

Martha Evans Sparks is a Staff Writer for Health & Wellness Magazine

more articles by martha evans sparks

her intervention, he would have continued to suffer with no help.


Mark believes the cause of his depression is a familial tendency. “My mother suffered greatly with it and did nothing,” he says. He knows a number of people in his mother’s family deal with depression. It seems clear to him the tendency for depression must be a chemical imbalance in the brain inherited in the genes.


Mark says his depression ebbs and flows but never entirely disappears. He holds a job and gets to work on time every day. A business success temporarily eases the pain, he says. In response to his wife’s urging, he visited their family doctor, who prescribed Prozac. It did little for his condition. Over the years, Mark has taken many different drugs with some success. None cleared the depression entirely, but only “leveled the mood.” He found professional counseling to be of no benefit.


Mark is a person of Christian faith who attends worship services regularly. He says he has prayed earnestly to God for divine healing. It has not happened. He tells himself if he were a true believer, he would not have depression. Thus he tortures himself with the idea that his suffering is his own fault. The result, of course, is to