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  • Writer's pictureTerry Pace

Isolation Depression Syndrome

By JS Ondara (2020)

Ondara wrote this song along with his new album (Folk n' Roll Vol. 1: Tales of Isolation) during isolation from Covid 19. If you are anything like me (I'm sorry), but you will like Ondara as his voice is emotional and unique, his music and lyrics speak from the heart and he quotes Bob Dylan for much of his musical inspiration. He is from Kenya but lives in Minneapolis and is in my view one of the brightest young musicians writing and singing serious songs about life today.

This song about depression and isolation simply shares the reality that many have experienced in these Covid 19 times; missing loved ones, being unable to travel, loss of work, fear of illness, grief over those who have been sick or the over 200,000 Americans who have died from the virus so far in the past six months. But I would like to point out that we could have geared up the country in ways to help more, simply following the best guidance of science and fostering a sense of direction and security as well as unity to help everyone feel the strength in one another. A lack of clarity fosters greater insecurity and distress than honesty where one can at least make realistic decisions, thus obfuscation and unpredictability adds to emotional distress.

Also, depression is not one thing, it's not the same for everyone even if there are common core experiences. The common core of depression is the painful emotions of sadness, anxiety, anger and/or emptiness or a loss of pleasure in life. But with the 9 core symptoms of depression in the current DSM and at least five symptoms are needed for a full on diagnosis, there are 252 different ways for people to experience or express their depression and that is just with the most obvious symptoms. Add in related problems such as increased alcohol or drug use, decreased self care, increased exacerbation of other medical problems, loss of work or increased financial burdens, and there are almost countless ways depression can be manifest.

But once more, the good news is that many things can help, including social support, a sense of compassion and unity with others, exercise, sleep, nutrition, meditation, and religious practice along with good medical care to improve overall health. Science demonstrates that on average about 75% of folks with depression are significantly and meaningfully better with formal psychotherapy and/or anti-depressant medications within one to six months of treatment. But with the diversity of ways and reasons folks have for depression, so to, treatment needs a very careful individualized approach that is founded on science, adapting treatment to the culture and specific needs of each person.

So please reach out if depression has a hold of you. It can get us all at one time or another in this often challenging life. We know that at least 80% of folks who are depressed have some level of suicidal thought. Depression hurts, it causes real nervous system pain that impacts the entire body, overwhelms the brain and leaves us exhausted and our minds numb such that relief is the only focus and so suicide to stop the pain is an idea that most depressed folks have. But we know that less than 1% of folks who are depressed and suicidal still wish they were dead after three to six months of treatment. Get support, get help. It can not only save your life but can bring hope, peace and joy back again. Reach out to anyone you trust and respect. Talk to your primary care doctor if you have a good relationship. Send me an email or contact me anytime.

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