Cops & Depression

Skill training for survival off the streets; knowing how to take care of yourselves and each other psychologically and emotionally is critical to maintain officer wellness and the longevity of this honorable profession.


Not true!  Some famous people who have been open about their depression are Mike Wallace of 60 Minutes, Larry King, former Israel Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Marlon Brando, Truman Capote, Winston Churchill, Dick Clark, Calvin Coolidge, Harrison Ford, Anthony Hopkins, Elton John, John Lennon, Richard Nixon, Deborah Norville, Boris Yelstin, and even General George S. Patton.  Depression is not selective in who it affects; even productive, strong people who have made significant changes in this world and are proven leaders have been diagnosed with clinical depression.

Just get over it already!  Stop dwelling on it!  You crybaby!

Oh, man if this was true, I’d so be out of a job.  I like those solutions.  It would make this world an easier place because, seriously, who would choose depression if the answer was as simple as just get over it.  Exercise more.  Eat the right foods.  Take supplements.  Just think/will it away.  People who are depressed have already tried the simple answers.  I can tell you, they wish they would work, but they don’t have long-lasting effects.  It would be like comparing a person who has the common cold to having pneumonia and telling them to take more Vitamin C.  Nice idea, wish it would work, but it doesn’t. 

As I stated in the beginning of the article it takes intentionality to change behaviors and thought processes, and often seeing medical professionals as a licensed therapist or a psychiatrist to treat the depression.  Treatment of depression can be as short as 6 weeks for some, and several years for others.  There is no one answer that fits all sizes.

I’m able to function, hold a job, and get out of bed, so I’m not depressed.

Depression comes in all shapes, sizes, and colors.  It can be a low grade, persistent sadness or an illness that sucks the life out of someone… maybe literally.  One of the quickest and easiest questions I ask people to determine if they have depression is, “Do you have more good days or bad days?”  Depression can be as simple as more bad days than good days.  This is when I know I need to begin the screening to evaluate the intensity of the depression. 

I wish we had more space and time to address the myths often carried by police cultures that prevent an individual from seeking out the appropriate level of care for the treatment of their medical issue.  It has been reported that more cops die from their own gun each year than from line of duty deaths, about 300 or more each year.  The prevention of the line-of-duty deaths is constantly stressed to keep officers safe because we all know:  Complacency kills.  Continuous awareness of the dangers you face and continuous analysis of how to confront them are critical components of staying alive.  But we also need skill training for survival off the streets; knowing how to take care of yourselves and each other psychologically and emotionally is just as critical to maintain officer wellness and the longevity of this honorable profession.

Complacency in our mood can kill as well. 

Next month this series will continue.  In the meantime we welcome your feedback and comments.

 

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About The Authors:

Althea Olson, LCSW has been in private practice in the Chicago suburbs since 1996. She has a Master of Social Work degree from Aurora University providing individual, couple, & group therapy to adolescents, adults, and geriatrics. Althea is also trained in Critical Incident Stress Management & is a certified divorce mediator.

Mike Wasilewski, MSW has been with a large suburban Chicago department since 1996. He holds a Master of Social Work degree from Aurora University and has served on his department’s Crisis Intervention & Domestic Violence teams. Mike is an adjunct instructor at Northwestern College.

Mike & Althea have been married since 1994 and have been featured columnists for Officer.Com since 2007. Their articles are extremely popular and they now provide the same training and information in person throughout the United States. This dynamic team was recently featured at the at the 2010 & 2011 ILEETA Conference & Exposition.

Out of their success has come the formation of More Than A Cop where the focus is providing consultation and trainings on Survival Skills Beyond The Street.

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