Now this is a bit of a twist on our usual article. But hey, this all relates to autism. I am not talking about depression in children on the spectrum. Today, I am addressing depression I have noted in the parents.
What concerns me here is that many parents will pour everything they have in their child and totally neglect themselves and their spouses in an attempt to “fix” the child’s problems. Though this may be good for the child in the short term, it WILL be very detrimental not only to the child and the siblings, but to the marriage as well. The mending of autism may take many years and thus, we, as parents need to pace ourselves for this marathon. This means we will have to be “there” for them year after year and thus, we need to focus on eating right, exercising, taking time away from the problems like going out on dates with spouse, friends, or just by ourselves. It is important to take vitamins and supplements geared at reducing the harmful effects of continuous stress.
Some symptoms that must not be ignored:
• Not able to settle for sleep
• Not able to fall asleep until very late, or early awakening
• Chronic fatigue
• Loss of joy and sense of humor
• Change in weight: gain or loss
• Sense of overwhelming guilt
• Difficulty with concentration and decision making
• Lack of appetite
• Lack of sexual drive (often referred to decreased libido)
• Irritability, agitation
• Overwhelming sense of sadness, despair, hopelessness, tearful
• And in severe cases, thinking about suicide
Let’s face it, taking care of a child with special needs is an incredibly difficult task. In addition, as I mentioned, this caretaking is quite involved and tremendously difficult. The effort involved compares to very few other pediatric conditions, yet the majority to the medical community is clueless in how to help parents with the actual needs of the child, not to mention the needs of the parents. What a shame.
911 – Thinking about suicide? Wishing you were dead? This is a true medical emergency and should be treated as such. GET MEDICAL HELP IMMEDIATEDLY. DO NOT IGNORE THE FEELINGS.
Depression can be treated! It has been shown that there are many different approaches that I will list below. Many of these approaches must be overseen by a physician who is acquainted with the medical management of depression and will consider the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI’s like Prozac) way DOWN ON THE LIST OF MANAGEMENT ALTERNATIVES.
Interventions that can help with depression:
• Sunlight and or SAD Lamps (Seasonal Affective Disorder lights)
• Vitamin D3 (check blood levels, 80-100 is typically normal) consider 5000IU daily
• Methyl B12 with N acetyl cysteine and folinic acid subcutaneous injections every other day
• Gluten free and dairy free diet
• FEMALE HORMONES MUST BE CHECKED AND MANAGED this is a big problem and that is frequently ignored
• Thyroid hormones must be evaluated and treated appropriately
• Cortisol the “stress hormone” must also be evaluated and replaced if necessary
• Daily exercise
• Abnormal sleep patterns must be evaluated and made normal
Remember you are NOT alone! This is a very common issue that parents struggle with. Once you admit to yourself that you are not coping well, seek professional help. I t will also be import to find someone you can discuss your struggles with who will be supportive.
This list is by no means a complete list of interventions that can help with depression, but it is a good start. Depression can be lifted if medical abnormalities are addressed and if life-style changes are made. DEPRESSION IS TREATABLE.
And that’s my approach to Depression…