Depression: Starting the conversation - KXLH.com | Helena, Montana

Depression: Starting the conversation

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At least 50 percent of the population will meet the criteria for mental illness or depression at some point in their lives.

It comes in many forms.  The spectrum can run from mild to manic.

In fact, some people may not even realize they are living in it.

If you struggle with this pain, no matter to what extend, know there is help.  It can begin with the right conversation.

Jon Nesovic spends his days solving other people's computer problems.

Nesovic suffers from depression.

"I actually chose the tech world for a reason because it's always evolving, its always changing, always something, always new. I want something new every single day," said Nesovic.

After years of struggling with depression, he now knows he needs to always keep going.

"So, ever since I was young, I knew something, I felt something deep inside, like, something that I didn't really understand at the time. But I knew I had something going on, but I just never really talked about it cause I didn't really understand what it was," Nesovic said.

"[You] kinda feel almost hopeless and helpless. So when I start to feel that onset physically, like I can feel it in my guy, like something is wrong," he said.

People might think "Am I going crazy? Am I losing my mind? What's happening?" said Dr. Eric Arzubi from Billings Clinic Psychiatric Services.

Dr. Arzubi said depression a scary thing that can take over, render you lethargic and interfere with basic daily function and health.

He said in his experience with his patients it is every bit as painful, if not more so, as something physical.

"It's different for everybody. For me it's all the things that I normally love doing. I love hiking. I love mountain biking. I love working out. All those things, it basically, my mind tells me that those aren't fun anymore. They're not worth it, that you should just lay down. You should just do nothing cause it's not worth it," said Nesovic.

Dr. Arzubi said depression can feel "slow moving. Everything is just heavy."  

It can also include "thoughts of death and dying. I mean getting to the point where something people feel that being alive is just too painful and death is an option," Dr. Arzubi said.

Mental illness is the number one cause of disability in the United States.

Two-thirds of those suffering will not seek or receive proper treatment, even from their trusted family physician.

"It's still something that's hard to understand. I think there is still some stigma and particularly in a place like Montana where we're very much 'we've got to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps' mentality," said Dr. Heidi Duncan of Billings Clinic Family Medicine.

With a shortage of mental health experts, family medical physicians like Dr. Heidi Duncan are becoming the first line of defense, and it's working.

"I spend a lot of time trying to help people understand that this is very much a bio-chemical problem. There's a lot of genetic components to it, and that it's very common... that they're not alone," said Dr. Duncan.

Jon Nesovic has learned to surround himself with support, accept who he is, talk about it, and use exercise to help manage his symptoms.

"So I get a social, I get a physical, I get a mental and emotional, you know, boom from that," Nesovic said.

Endorphins can work like a natural anti-depressant, but for many who struggle, they need more.

"It's a multi-factoral approach. It's more than just putting people on medications, but it's realizing we have some great medications out there that can be so helpful and people don't have to suffer," said Dr. Duncan.

Dr. Duncan said these options will make you feel more like yourself again, and that can happen by starting a simple, but honest, conversation.

"It's just so very important because there's so many things that we can do to help," said Dr. Duncan.

"I don't think anybody could condemn me for having genetic problems. I can't change the cards that I was dealt, but I can change how I play them. It's just a fact of life. Nobody's perfect," said Nesovic.

A goal of this story was to help those of you at home who feel you may suffer from depression, anxiety, or another form of mental illness, to just start the conversation

Dr. Azubi was very clear. When you open that dialog and talk with your doctor it doesn't mean it's a forever diagnosis of life-long problem. There is hope and a lot of help.

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