Senior Citizens: Paralyzed by Fear

Feb 2nd, 2010 | By Dr Jerry D Elrod | Category: Senior Moments Blog

When I was a teenager back in the 50′s, polio was the threatening disease.  One summer, there was some fear that I may have contracted it. My frame was very thin and my appearance suggested that I might be a candidate. My next door neighbor indicated that I looked like a Japanese war prisoner.  For a while my family was paralyzed by fear, fear that indeed polio was likely to strike and I would find myself confined to an iron lung. 

Fortunately no such disaster struck, no such disease made its visit although the anxious feelings that accompanied that fear almost paralyzed us.  I don’t recall now knowing anyone in my town who contracted that awful disease before Dr. Jonas Salk discovered a cure for it and stopped it in its tracks.

Being paralyzed by fear is a terribly disabling experience.  It immobilizes us in such a way that we are able to accomplish little.  For adults it is usually called depression or failure or grief or a broken heart or any of the other numeous crippling experiences. 

Paralysis means we have lost control, no longer see beyond the present moment to a promising horizon beyond. Losing control puts one in a state of dread and fear, attacked by all kinds of  imagined enemies and demons.  It is these who disable us, render us incapable of dealing with ordinary day to day issues.  It, in fact, is depression.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services lists 12 symptoms of clinical depresssion.  They are:

*Persistent sadness, anxiety, or empty mood.

*Loss of interest or pleasure in ordinary activities, family or friends.

*Decreased energy, lislessness, fatigue, feeling “slowed down” especially in the morning.

*Sleep problems and changes in sleep patterns(can’t go to sleep, oversleeping, waking too early).

*Eating problems and changes in eating patterns or foods consumed (weight loss or gain, gain or loss in appetite).

 *Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions.

*Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism.

*Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, hopelessness or helplessness.

*Irritability.

*Excessive crying, sometimes without reason.  

*Thoughts of suicide or death.

*Recurring aches and pains (headaches and backaches) that don’t respond to treatment.

It is these culprits who steal our zeal for life.  Any combination of these can produce overwhelming apathy and troublesome indolence. 

The good news is depression can be treated.  Identifying the culprit(s) and seeking help for them is mandatory.  Attempting to treat yourself will likely only exacerbate your condition.  Physicians today recommend a variety of treatments, including medication (necessary because the chemical processes in the brain contribute to depression and no matter how hard you try, it is impossible to manage chemical processs without medication), increased exercise, homeopathic remedies that assist mood management, social interaction, counseling and diet… just to name a few. 

Bottom line is this:  if you experience signs and symptoms of depression, see your primary care physician to begin to address possible cure(s)



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