Lissa Rankin M.D.

Owning Pink


The Difference Between Depression & Losing Your Mojo

Depression is not a simple case of losing your mojo.

Posted May 31, 2010

A friend of mine lost her ex-husband to suicide this week. (Tears, sadness, and so much empathy.) Every time suicide touches someone I know, I find myself asking, "What could possibly be so bad that you must end it all?" It's impossible not to ask "WHY?" I find so much joy in life and can't imagine what could make life so unlivable. But of course, as a physician, I know the answer. Mental illness is simply not logical, so trying to apply reason makes no sense. Depression is not a simple case of losing your mojo. It's dead serious.

It got me thinking about depression and mojo. For those of us who lose our mojo, how can we sort out whether we've got a simple case of lost mojo or a serious case of Major Depression? While Mojo Monday exericises, Mojo Tips, telling our stories, and Pink community are always a good thing, they're not meant to gloss over the fact that some pain runs deep, and chemical imbalance in the brain can rob you of your mojo lickety split. So how can you tell the difference?

Signs and Symptoms of Major Depression

1. You've lost the ability to experience joy, even when you're doing what you most love (we docs call it anhedonia & it's one of the most reliable symptoms of serious depression). If you can't find pleasure in what used to reliably make your heart sing, chances are you're depressed.
2. You feel depressed most of the day, nearly every day.
3. You've lost weight without dieting, or you've gained weight.
4. You can't sleep, or you sleep all the time.
5. Others notice that you're agitated or you've dramatically slowed down.
6. You're fatigued nearly every day.
7. You experience feelings of worthlessness or guilt nearly every day.
8. You have trouble concentrating or you're indecisive nearly every day.
9. You keep thinking about death, have recurring suicidal thoughts, or have a plan for suicide.

These are modified from the DSM IV criteria for Major Depression, and if you have 5 or more of these symptoms during the same 2 week period, chances are, you're depressed. To meet criteria, you must experience either #1 or #2. And it's key to make sure these symptoms impair your daily life, aren't the result of some other illness or addiction, and aren't short-term symptoms related to bereavement (which while similar to depression, has its own category in the DSM IV and usually gets better with time).

Do You Need Help? Treatment Is Out There

Are any of you Pinkies suffering from Major Depression? If so, please get help. Depression will steal your mojo so fast you won't know what hit you. Make sure you find someone loving and compassionate to help you sort out what's going on, not just someone who's going to drug you without getting at the root of the whole you. Treating depression is a whole other topic, but make sure you get someone who looks at the whole picture of who you are. For tips on how to fight depression naturally, read Natural Medicines for Depression. While natural medicines are great and I'm not a big believer in throwing medications at depression willy nilly, sometimes they're exactly what you need to help you get your mojo back. They can clear the haze that keeps you from seeing life clearly, so don't be afraid to take them if it's what you need. Once you're feeling better, you can step back and view the authentic you with more clarity. Aside from causing you to lose your mojo, depression has also been linked to heart disease, as reported by Mojo Mentor & Pink Wellness Guru Fred Krazeise. Depression is serious stuff, Pinkies. Please don't ignore it.

Are You Suicidal or Do You Know Someone Who Is?
If you know someone who is suicidally depressed, please read How Do I Help A Suicidal Person? by Mojo Mentor Christa Scalies. If you've lost someone you love to suicide, please read Tips For Suicide Survivors. To read about how depression affects your spiritual direction from Shawna Atteberry's personal account, read Depression and Spiritual Direction. And if depression is keeping you from getting your mojo back, please get help, dearest Pinkies. For more resources, click here.

If my friend is reading this, I love you, honey, and I'm so sorry for your loss. If there's anything I can do, please ask, and know that it's not your fault. We are here for you, sweetie.

If any of you have lost loved ones to suicide, love and blessings to you too. My heart goes out to all of you. And if some of you have attempted suicide and survived, we're so happy you're here with us to live this beautiful life we're given. If anyone reading this is currrently suicidal, PLEASE get help NOW. We love you. We support you. And we want you here in our Pink community for many years to come. May God (who I loving call JABA-Jesus/Jehovah, Allah, Buddha, Athena, etc) bless you all.