This web page is about clinical depression, also referred to as major depression or major depressive disorder. Here we address not the “down” mood which we all get from time to time and which leads us to say, “I’m depressed,” but the often debilitating illness which affects one in five people, children as well as adults.
Clinical depression has many different facets, and affects not only someone’s mood, but often also their ability to function normally. Many depressed people experience impaired memory, difficulty concentrating, and confused thought processes. Some people experience what seems like unbearable noise or pain in their head which is purely mental (not the product of a headache, etc.). It can become impossible to speak or smile normally. Obviously, clinical depression is much more complicated than “the blues.”
Depressive disorders and companion illnesses come in many different forms and combinations, but three of the most common are major depression, dysthymia (low-level, long-term), and bipolar disorder (manic depression). Since I have suffered from the first two, I tend to concentrate on them more, as I’m very wary about giving information out on a topic that I don’t know thoroughly. If you’re looking for information on bipolar disorder, I recommend McMan’s Depression and Bipolar Web.
I created Wing of Madness in November of 1995 to help other people identify their depression, or that of someone close to them, and to urge them to seek treatment. I’m someone who knows more than most people about depression, because I have clinical depression that is successfully managed, and have educated myself about this illness. My experience with depression is here, if you’re interested. Please bear in mind that I am not a doctor and do not have any medical training.
I consider this site a depression guide for consumers because I do not as a rule include web sites or information that is geared toward mental health practitioners. If I do include information written for professionals, it is worthwhile for the rest of us and I designate it as “technical”. My goal is to disseminate clear, understandable information about depression on this page. If you’re suffering from depression, the last thing you need is to wade through confusing, contradictory information or medical mumbo-jumbo.
This page does reflect my personal bias in favor of a scientific, biochemical view of clinical depression. I do not agree with people or books that say that you can “talk yourself out of” clinical depression. That was something I tried to do for years and had no success with, other than developing a knee-jerk optimism. I lean toward the idea that most depression is the result of chemical imbalances in the brain, although I do know people who have come out of depression having received psychotherapy only, and no medication. Although I am an enthusiastic supporter of psychotherapy for depression, I believe that it often should go hand-in-hand with medication. I do link to pages and articles which offer a different viewpoint than my own, as long as I feel they are accurate and responsible, in an attempt to keep this site balanced.
I select the resources I link to on this page carefully. I do not link to sites which are strongly “anti-medication”, or strongly self-help, as I believe it is dangerous for people to try to treat their depression themselves without first seeing a licensed psychiatrist.
As far as who I am…I’m a working mother who comes from a family composed mainly of people who either were or are currently journalists and editors. I take the traditional view of reporting seriously. While I don’t consider myself a journalist per se, I believe that when you disseminate information, you have an obligation to get your facts straight and present them as accurately as possible, with as little bias as possible. If I’m writing an opinion piece, you’ll be able to tell.
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Disclaimer: I am not a health-care professional. This guide is for informational purposes only, and is in no way meant to take the place of a visit to and advice from a health-care professional.