Painful feelings of depression often hidden from others

Posted on 01/19/12 12:53:pm


Depression—it’s a looming word that may conjure up images like those in the television ads; perhaps we see a sad and lonely figure sitting alone in a dark, ignoring her dog’s desperate pleas to pay him some attention, to please just throw the ball... While this may be the very image of the disorder for some, the reality is that depression doesn’t have one single face.

Depression can be an elusive condition, it might seem to sneak in without warning; it may even disappear and reappear over the course of a person’s life. Many people are struggling in secret, not letting on to the people around them that life, for them, no longer holds any joy or meaning. Others may be suffering from depression and not even realize it, although friends and family have noticed a change in behavior.

Jerry Halverson, MD, FAPA, medical director of adult services at Rogers Memorial Hospital-Oconomowoc has seen this happen in the lives of the patients he treats for depression. “Oftentimes, the person living with depression is the last to realize it, as depression colors the way that they see the world,” Dr. Halverson said. “Family and friends can play a powerful role in helping these people get the help that they need.”

For a person dealing with depression, life might feel like a constant, meaningless struggle. She might feel that there isn’t any hope for her life to improve and wonder why she should even try, especially when everything feels so impossibly difficult. Perhaps most painful of all, she might feel that she doesn’t matter, that she isn’t important to the world, or that she is merely taking up space. “Depression at its most severe can lead to thoughts about suicide, which is why it is crucial that people with depression get the life-saving help that they need,” Dr. Halverson said.

Imagine how impossible it would feel to make any changes, to get help, to even tell someone about her struggle while feeling this way. Unfortunately, these feelings are all too common.

According to the NIMH, depression “is the leading cause of disability among Americans age 15 to 44… about 11 percent of adolescents have a depressive disorder by age 18…[and] girls [and women] are more likely than boys to experience depression*.” This being the case, it is hard to understand why depression still carries a stigma, and yet it does.

Many Americans feel the need to hide their struggle as a “shameful secret,” but what if we began to understand that a person struggling with depression is not alone, that her feelings are not uncommon, and that she certainly does not need to feel this way forever? The truth is that although, like the disorder itself, treatment does not come in one form, it does work!

“Oftentimes people assume that treatment for depression means medications, but there are many effective options for depression. These options include, but are not limited to, medications,” Dr. Halverson said. “The true tragedy is that we have treatments that are very effective and can be life-saving. People suffering with depression can, in most cases, expect to feel better with the available treatments.”

Our doctors at Rogers have been working with our patients to help them overcome their depression for more than 20 years now. The doctors at Rogers are the “experts” in psychiatric disorders. They have the full range of proven treatments available to help people with depression get back to their lives.

“Rogers is a unique treatment center. We have access to all of the treatments and all of the levels of care needed to get our patients back to their normal selves,” Dr. Halverson said. “We have the experts to care for you or your loved one whether you need general or specialty psychiatric care with our patient-focused, evidence-based treatment focus. Our team of experts has the same goal in mind – your health.”

Depression is a complex disorder that can seem to cut right to the core of a person’s being, affecting her physically, emotionally, and spiritually. We understand how debilitating this can be and are highly experienced in supporting individuals on the path to recovering the meaning, happiness and overall well-being in their lives.



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