In fact, one procrastinator said he felt as if he were wearing a large "kick me" sign on his back. Let's imagine for a moment that you were a visitor from another planet who came down to Earth with orders to observe the behavior of Earthlings who habitually refuse to deal with their tasks. Needing data, you interview a few of them and notice that many of them not only complain about their own behavior, they also bear resentment for those times when they were forced to act due to circumstances beyond their control. This, despite the fact that they would have had control, if only they had taken charge earlier. Wrapping up your study for presentation to the scientific community back home, you look for a name to describe this group of Earthlings. What name would you bestow upon this species? Though symptoms of depression seem unmistakable, there can be other medical issues that produce very similar symptoms. Here are just a few of the medical conditions that can be misdiagnosed as depression: Hypothyroidism: This condition occurs when the thyroid gland isn't producing enough thyroid hormones. This can lead to significant health problems as well as symptoms such as fatigue, poor concentration, and a depressed mood. In the United States alone, there are as many as twenty million Americans with thyroid disease, but most of them have no idea of what is happening. Though there are key symptoms that can suggest thyroid problems to a doctor, many people with hypothyroidism may conclude that they are depressed instead. In most cases, a simple blood test can help clear up any misunderstanding, and a pill a day is all they may need. Yes, people with undiagnosed type 2 diabetes can, and do, develop depression-like symptoms such as weight loss, fatigue, and increased irritability. Undiagnosed diabetes can also mean becoming more vulnerable to diabetes distress due to the often-exaggerated fears linked with diabetic symptoms, including dizziness, vertigo, and frequent hypoglycemic episodes. In many ways, the symptoms of this kind of distress are often hard to distinguish from actual depression, although, as with hypothyroidism, a medical examination and proper blood testing can ensure proper diagnosis and treatment. Also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis, this condition was, until fairly recently, routinely misdiagnosed as depression by medical doctors. Chronic fatigue symptoms can include concentration and sleep problems, extreme fatigue, and muscle pain. Since diagnostic testing for this condition is still limited, it is frequently underdiagnosed even today, and many CFS sufferers can be prescribed antidepressant medications. A similar condition, fibromyalgia, can also resemble depression, at least in the early stages. In fact, people suffering from either CFS or fibromyalgia often develop depression as well and may require treatment with antidepressant medication to help with their symptoms.

Symptoms resembling depression can also be linked to various problems associated with diet. This can include low blood sugar, vitamin deficiencies (particularly vitamin D), and dehydration, to name just a few possibilities. Even the withdrawal effects that can occur for people with different kinds of substance dependence, including caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol dependence, can often mimic depression. Save big purchases until a noteworthy occasion, so that the item is worth so much more than what is on the price tag because it embodies your memory of that time. If you must buy things, try to link them with a happy milestone, memory or experience. For example, I saved money for a new chair but waited until I had published my first book to buy it. Or look for things that will bring you happy moments in the future. Consider how a purchase will affect your behaviour in time to come. A few years ago, the Happiness Research Institute was working with a town in Denmark on how to improve well-being for the children in state schools. One of our recommendations was that the town should invest in having an apple tree for each pupil in their schools: 7,439 children equals 7,439 trees. When a child started at the school, they would be shown their tree. During the harvest, each class would get together to pick the apples. And, on the last day of school, the children would hand over their tree to a new pupil who was just starting. As well as teaching the children something about where food comes from, enjoying simple pleasures like watching the apples grow and eating them, working together as a group to harvest them, the pride and responsibility that comes from taking care of a tree and handing it on to a new generation, I thought this was a great investment for the schools. The town council thought otherwise. So, some town somewhere can still choose to be the first that grants every child an apple tree. Surely someone must be interested in being the town that ensures every child has at least one happy memory of picking apples. Reading - especially if you use the public library or the mini-library you have established in your stairway - is free. To me, the perfect afternoon is a book and a blanket in the shade of a tree on a summer's day - and since you are reading this, you probably already agree. Bibliotherapy, the art of using books to aid people in solving the issues they are facing, has been around for decades, and the belief in the healing power of books is said to go as far back as ancient Egypt and Greece, where signs above libraries would let readers know that they were entering a healing place for the soul.

More recently, psychologists at the New School for Social Research found that fiction books improve our ability to register and read others' emotions and, according to an article in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, research also shows that literary fiction enhances our ability to reflect on our problems through reading about characters who are facing similar issues and problems. Basically, reading is free therapy. Shopping malls out number high schools and we consume twice as many material goods as we did 50 years ago The average American home has tripled in size over the past 50 years and has over 300,000 items There are more television sets in America than there are people Americans spend $100 billion a year on shoes, jewelry, and watches and $1.2 trillion a year on non-essential goods, the average woman owns 30 outfits and spends 8 years of her life shopping, and the average American throws 65 pounds of clothes away per year 3.1% of the world's children live in America but they own 40% of the world's toys Storage is the fastest growing real estate industry in the past 4 decades and there is 7.3 square feet of storage space for every single person in the nation 25% of people with two-car garages park in the driveway because the garage is full of stuff and 32% can only fit one car in it Every single thing you own is one more source of spent money instead of saved money. One more source of worry. One more source of stress. One more thing to keep track of. One more thing to pack and move. One more distraction. Since we're emotionally out-of-control and we shop for therapeutic purposes, we end up owning more non-essential items than we will ever need, we don't know what to do with all of it, and they end up owning us. Society says the more "things" you have, the more freedom you have but it's, actually, the more you spend, buy, and own, the more of a slave you are to your "stuff". Only buy what you absolutely need and one or two "toys" here and there. Minimalism is keeping the things you don't need to a minimum so you don't live in a cluttered home and aren't overwhelmed by belongings. If you're not a minimalist, get rid of or sell 80% of the things you own and it improves your quality of life, happiness, and peace of mind. It gives you more freedom. Methadone is an opioid agonist, acting principally on and fully occupying the u-opioid receptor in the brain. Though methadone was developed in Germany in the late 1930s, it did not find general use in the United States until the early 1960s, as a result of the groundbreaking work done at Rockefeller University by Drs. Vincent Dole and Marie Nyswander. The uses of methadone include analgesia (pain relief), detoxification from other opioids, and maintenance, in which a person takes daily doses, as part of a treatment program. It is usually taken by mouth as a pill, sublingually, or in a liquid, but can also be injected for acute pain relief; effects last up to one full day when used for regular maintenance. Methadone produces both tolerance and dependence, the latter more so for long-term maintenance users.

Because it is a full agonist, high doses can flood brain receptors, rendering a user unconscious and depressing breathing, thereby potentially causing respiratory arrest and death. For some people, methadone maintenance is lifesaving. It can rescue families and communities from emotional hardship as well as high health-care and correctional-system costs; but for some individuals, particularly if it is mixed with alcohol, tranquilizers, or other opioids, it can cause overdose and death. For people with a persistent dependence on opioids, particularly high doses of heroin and prescription pain pills, and who need a highly structured program, methadone remains a mainstay MAT. Buprenorphine became legal in the United States in 2000 and available a few years later, after a long, puritanical federal inquisition about its introduction. When it was released for medical prescribing, I was mental health (including the addictions) commissioner in New York City and saw the availability of this drug as vital to providing scores of thousands of New Yorkers an alternative to street drugs and to methadone maintenance programs, which many addicts did not want to use. Over a decade later its use remains limited, especially in light of its relative safety and the extent of the opioid epidemic. Buprenorphine simultaneously acts as a partial agonist to the opioid receptor and as an antagonist. It is far more difficult to get high or overdose on this agent, unless it is mixed with other, non-opioid substances that depress the central nervous system such as tranquilizers or alcohol. Buprenorphine binds fiercely to receptors, thus blocking the uptake of (or receptor displacement by) other opioids, making ingestion of heroin, methadone, or opioid analgesics usually not worth the effort. The two principal preparations are Subutex, which contains only buprenorphine, and Suboxone, which compounds the buprenorphine with naloxone to deter its injection. (Withdrawal would immediately ensue from the injected, but not orally taken, naloxone. Naloxone is an opioid full antagonist in the brain. If a person takes naloxene, any opioid activity in the brain [and body] will be fully blocked, inducing a state of immediate and distressing withdrawal.) OVER TIME, AS I CONTINUED my self-exploration by jotting down my moods in my feelings journal, I began noticing a relationship between my difficulties in accomplishing tasks and my low feelings. Even when I had ample time to take care of seemingly smaller tasks, such as doing the laundry or going out for groceries, when I felt severely depressed there was often only time for hiding under the bedcovers and sleeping the day away. Suffering with low energy levels, the only other activity that both distracted me and ate up loads of time was endless television viewing. I felt utterly helpless, while hopelessly confounded by my own psychological condition, victimized by a foe that had control over nearly every aspect of my life--or so I believed. Depression Isn't My Fault--Is It? At that time, I believed that, whatever the cause, my depressive states were entirely beyond my control. However, in order for that to be true, those causes really had to be beyond my control--in other words, they had to be the sort of maladies usually deemed larger-than-life, such as: Bad genes: I had inherited a family history of depression, said the professionals.

"You were born with a predisposition to depression," they said. As my fellow Brooklynite--Curly Howard of "The Three Stooges"--had insisted in a courtroom, "I'm a victim of soicumstance." A rough upbringing: I was a small, skinny kid in public school. Always the runt of the classroom, I suffered the taunts of schoolyard bullies and their troubled peers. Disruption of my career plans: From an early age, I had wanted to become a radio broadcasting engineer. I even went to a vocational high school in order to learn electronics, and then studied broadcasting at community college. It wasn't until I was attending college that I learned that the traditional position of broadcast engineer was being phased out due to automation. What teenager wouldn't become depressed after discovering that his dreams had been squashed? There are also different cognitive disorders that can be misdiagnosed as depression. For example, while attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is most often diagnosed in children, it can occur in adults as well. Since ADHD can produce symptoms such as insomnia, memory and concentration problems, and mood changes, many people developing these symptoms for the first time may assume they are depressed. For that matter, depression may often be misdiagnosed as dementia in older adults, as the symptoms can be very similar, at least in the early stages. As I have already pointed out, it is essential that people not try diagnosing themselves when they are feeling depressed. There can be many different possible explanations for depression-like symptoms, and a wrong diagnosis can have serious consequences, in terms of delayed treatment. Researchers have long recognized that laboratory animals kept caged away from other animals or otherwise enduring painful treatment that they cannot escape became passive and unresponsive. This has come to be known as learned helplessness and, due to the work of psychologists such as Martin Seligman, has become widely accepted as a way of understanding clinical depression and other types of mental illness. According to the learned helplessness theory, people with depression become apathetic and despondent because they do not believe that they can control their own lives. In a sense, they have "given up" in much the same way that laboratory animals give up and become passive. Learned helplessness in people also means developing pathological symptoms such as disturbed sleep, inability to eat, ulcers, and other indicators of extreme stress, all of which are common signs of depression. In one classic 1974 experiment on learned helplessness, human research subjects were split into three groups: members of the first group were exposed to a loud, unpleasant noise which could be stopped by pressing a button four times. The people in the second group were exposed to the same noise, but the button they were told would stop the noise did not work while there was no noise at all for the third group.