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1111 Symptoms of Depression

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Complete Transcript
Welcome to English is a Second Language Podcast number 1,111 – Symptoms of Depression.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 1,111. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Visit our website at ESLPod.com. Take a look at our ESL Podcast Courses in Business and Daily English. You can also like us on Facebook at facebook.com/eslpod. And why not follow us on Twitter at @eslpod.

This episode is a dialogue between Emily and Shivan about symptoms or signs of depression. Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

Emily: I think Jackson is depressed.

Shivan: How can you tell?

Emily: Well, he’s been suffering from a loss of appetite and is generally lethargic.

Shivan: Have you noticed any other symptoms?

Emily: He seems to have trouble concentrating and has insomnia.

Shivan: Um, really?

Emily: Yes, and I’m afraid he’s having suicidal thoughts. He seems distant and distracted, staring off into space. He’s not his usual self.

Shivan: How can you tell?

Emily: What do you mean?

Shivan: I mean, he looks the same to me. He just swims back and forth in the fish tank.

Emily: Just look at him. He’s on the edge of mental collapse!

Shivan: Somebody is.

[end of dialogue]

Emily begins by saying to Shivan, “I think Jackson is depressed.” “To be depressed” means to have feelings of extreme sadness and what we might describe as “hopelessness,” like you can’t see a possible good outcome for your situation. “Depression” is the noun form of the verb “to be depressed.” Shivan says, “How can you tell?” The phrase “how can you tell” (tell) is used to ask someone to explain how they know what they know, what evidence they are using, what are the indications that they are seeing that would lead them to this conclusion.

Emily says, “Well, he’s been suffering from a loss of appetite and is generally lethargic.” “To suffer from” something is to experience a problem from some situation, often an injury or an illness. We say people suffer from diseases. “He suffers from malaria.” He has the disease of malaria, and he’s feeling the negative effects of that disease. Emily says that Jackson is “suffering from a loss of appetite” (appetite). Your “appetite” is your interest in food, your feeling hungry for food. So, a “loss of appetite” would be a lack of interest in food – when you don’t feel hungry.

Jackson is also, according to Emily, “lethargic” (lethargic). “Lethargic” is an adjective describing someone who doesn’t have a lot of energy, who seems very tired or perhaps simply isn’t interested in the world around him. Shivan says, “Have you noticed any other symptoms?” A “symptom” (symptom) is a physical condition that is a result of, or a consequence of, an injury or an illness.

So if you have, say, the flu – influenza – one of the symptoms might be a fever, a high temperature that indicates or tells you that you are sick. Shivan is asking Emily if she has noticed any other indications or symptoms that Jackson is depressed. Emily responds, “He seems to have trouble concentrating and has insomnia.” “To concentrate” means to focus your attention on something without being distracted.

“Insomnia” (insomnia) is the inability to fall asleep or to remain asleep. Someone with insomnia is often up late at night because he cannot sleep. In fact, insomnia really means the inability to sleep. It could be caused by many different things – that is to say, it could be a symptom of many different kinds of illnesses or problems, or maybe you’re just drinking too much coffee at night. Although usually the cause is more serious. Emily says that Jackson is having “trouble concentrating and has insomnia.” Shivan says, “Um, really?” Emily says, “Yes, and I’m afraid he’s having suicidal thoughts.”

The word “suicidal” (suicidal) relates to having thoughts about wanting to kill yourself, about wanting to end your own life. Emily says that Jackson “seems distant and distracted, staring off into space. He’s not his usual self.” “To be distant” (distant) means to seem as though you aren’t really connected to the person you’re talking to, or you’re not perhaps even paying attention to the person you’re talking to, or you’re very reserved emotionally. You’re not indicating your feelings or emotions to the other person. All of those could be described as being distant.

“To be distracted” (distracted) means not being able to concentrate or focus because you’re thinking about something else. If you are sitting at a café, talking to your wife or girlfriend, and a beautiful woman walks by, you might get distracted. You might look over at the beautiful woman instead of listening to your wife or girlfriend. This is a very, very bad idea, guys, because she will notice and, well, let’s just say your life will be a little less happy that day. So, “distracted” is usually a condition that you do not want to be in. It’s usually a bad thing.

Now, sometimes when people are feeling sad or something bad happens, you want to be distracted ?– that is, you don’t want to concentrate on the bad thing. You want to be distracted by something else, so it can sometimes be a good thing, if what you are being distracted from is a bad thing. So you may think being distracted from your wife or girlfriend is a good thing, and your wife or girlfriend might think something else.

Anyway, back to our story. Emily describes Jackson as “staring off into space.” “To stare” (stare) means to look at something for a long time, to focus on something. “To stare off into space” means to look out at nothing in particular, to seem to be thinking about something and not focusing on anything that you’re actually looking at. So, it’s an interesting expression.

Normally, “to stare at” something means to focus on something. But if we say someone is “staring off into space,” we mean a person is looking in a certain direction or looking at something – it seems. His eyes are open, but he’s not actually focusing on anything physical, if you will. He’s thinking about something else. Another verb we might use here is “to daydream” (daydream). “To daydream” means to be thinking about things in a distracted way, rather than what you should be thinking about.

Emily finally says that Jackson is “not his usual self.” Your “usual (usual) self (self)” is the way you normally act, is the way you normally behave. If someone says, “He’s not his usual self,” we mean he’s acting strangely. He’s acting differently from the way that we would expect him to act. Shivan says, “How can you tell?” Once again, the same expression: How do you know? Emily says, “What do you mean?”

Shivan says, “I mean he looks the same to me. He just swims back and forth in the fish tank.” All this time, we think that Shivan and Emily are talking about a human being being depressed – but no, it seems as though they’re talking about a fish. Many people like to keep fish in their houses in a container called a “fish tank” (tank). Fish tanks are usually made of glass so that you can see the fish swimming back and forth.

Now you see, I think fish would be one pet that I might enjoy because you don’t really have to do anything for the fish. You don’t have to take the fish for a walk. You have to clean up after the fish a little bit, I guess, and feed the fish, but really, fish don’t really require a lot of work. I think it’s the kind of animal that I might enjoy having in my house. Well, Emily and Shivan apparently have a fish, and they’re worried that the fish is depressed.

Emily says, “Just look at him. He’s on the edge of mental collapse!” “To be on the edge” (edge) of something means to be almost in that situation – almost in that condition but not quite. “Mental” (mental) refers to your mind. “Collapse” (collapse) is when something either falls down or breaks down or no longer works the way it should. “Mental collapse” would be someone who is no longer able to think rationally, who we might say “loses his mind.” “To be on the edge of mental collapse” means that you are almost in that situation where you are no longer able to think rationally.

Now let’s listen to the dialogue, this time at a normal speed.

[start of dialogue]

Emily: I think Jackson is depressed.

Shivan: How can you tell?

Emily: Well, he’s been suffering from a loss of appetite and is generally lethargic.

Shivan: Have you noticed any other symptoms?

Emily: He seems to have trouble concentrating and has insomnia.

Shivan: Um, really?

Emily: Yes, and I’m afraid he’s having suicidal thoughts. He seems distant and distracted, staring off into space. He’s not his usual self.

Shivan: How can you tell?

Emily: What do you mean?

Shivan: I mean, he looks the same to me. He just swims back and forth in the fish tank.

Emily: Just look at him. He’s on the edge of mental collapse!

Shivan: Somebody is.

[end of dialogue]

Our scriptwriter is never distracted when she’s writing her scripts. I speak, of course, of the wonderful Dr. Lucy Tse.

From Los Angeles, California, I’m Jeff McQuillan. Thank you for listening. Come back and listen to us again right here on ESL Podcast.

English as a Second Language Podcast was written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan. Copyright 2015 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
depressed – with feelings of extreme sadness and hopelessness, lacking energy or enthusiasm for life

* Mariah became depressed for months after her mother’s death.

How can you tell? – a phrase used to ask someone how he or she reached a particular conclusion or made a particular observation, especially a conclusion or observation that one does not agree with

* A: The world is going to end.

B: How can you tell?

to suffer from – to experience a problem, injury, or illness

* What was it like to suffer from malaria?

loss of appetite – a lack of interest in food, not feeling hungry and not wanting to eat

* Sometimes children experience a loss of appetite, but if it lasts for a more than two days, you should call the pediatrician.

lethargic – very tired, without energy, lacking interest in things

* This new job is exhausting. I feel so lethargic on weekends, just trying to recover from the previous week.

symptom – a physical condition that is the result or consequence of an injury or illness, such as a fever, cough, headache

* Symptoms may include nausea, watery eyes, and headache.

to concentrate – to be able to focus one’s attention without becoming distracted

* It’s difficult to concentrate on what the teacher is saying when sunshine and the sound of children’s laughter is coming in through the open classroom windows.

insomnia – an inability to fall asleep and/or remain asleep

* When Heath gets too stressed out at work, he suffers from insomnia and ends up lying in bed thinking about all the things he should be working on.

suicidal – having thoughts about wanting to kill oneself; wanting to end one’s life

* The state set up a telephone hotline for people to call for free counseling if they are feeling suicidal.

distant – not able to form close relationships with other people, maintaining an emotional and/or physical distance from others

* The first few years of marriage were great, but then she noticed her husband was becoming distant and she started to think he might be having an affair.

distracted – not able to concentrate or focus because one is thinking about something else

* The sales representatives seemed really distracted during the meeting this morning. They weren’t really listening to the presenter.

to stare off into space – to daydream; to look in a fixed direction with open eyes, but without really seeing anything, because one is focused on one’s thoughts, almost as if dreaming while still awake

* Justin was staring off into space and didn’t even realize a customer had walked into the store.

(one’s) usual self – acting as one normally does; engaging in one’s typical behavior

* Ever since his divorce, Hassan hasn’t been his usual self.

fish tank – a glass container filled with water and fish, used to display fish in a home, office, or aquarium

* Don’t you think it’s time to clean the fish tank? The water is turning green and the fish are going to die.

on the edge of mental collapse – almost going crazy; about to lose one’s mind; at the brink of losing one’s ability to think logically

* Patty is on the edge of mental collapse telling everyone that the government is going to poison water supplies and that the world will end in three months.

Comprehension Questions
1. What happens when someone suffers from a loss of appetite?
a) The person feels very sad.
b) The person is not able to sleep.
c) The person does not want to eat.

2. What does Emily mean when she says, “I’m afraid he’s having suicidal thoughts”?
a) She thinks the fish is frightened.
b) She thinks the fish wants to kill others.
c) She thinks the fish wants to kill itself.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
distant

The word “distant,” in this podcast, means not able to form close relationships with other people, maintaining an emotional and/or physical distance from others: “The new employee is so distant! Nobody knows anything about her personal life.” The word “distant” also means far away: “People who live in distant neighborhoods are rarely involved in city politics.” A “distant memory” refers to a memory of something that happened long ago and is almost forgotten: “Watching men first walk on the moon has become a distant memory.” Finally, a “distant cousin” is a relative who is not closely related, but is still part of the family: “When Lina won millions of dollars in the lottery, she was contacted by a lot of distant cousins.”

tank

In this podcast, the term “fish tank” means a glass container filled with water and a fish, used to display the fish in a home, office, or aquarium: “How many goldfish can live in a 10-gallon fish tank?” A “tank” can be any large container used to store a liquid or gas: “How often do you have to refill the propane gas tank for the outdoor grill?” A “tank top” is a shirt with no sleeves, just small straps over the shoulders: “Women are not allowed to wear tank tops in our law office unless they’re covered by a suit jacket.” Finally, the informal phrase “to tank” means for a project or business to do very poorly and lose money: “If we can’t increase sales, this whole business will tank.”

Culture Note
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a national “hotline” (a phone number that people can call at any time to get immediate help in an emergency situation) for people who are experiencing emotional “distress” (feelings of panic and intense worry) and having suicidal thoughts. The hotline is actually a “network” (a group of people or organizations that are connected to each other in some way) of “crisis centers” (organizations designed to help people in emergency situations) across the country.

When someone calls the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, that “caller” (the person who made the phone call) is “transferred” (given a phone connection to another person) to speak with a “counselor” (a person whose job is to help people understand their feelings and provide guidance for healthy choices) at the nearest crisis center. Anyone can call the hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), whether they are experiencing suicidal thoughts or worried about someone who has “expressed” (shared feelings about) “suicidal intent” (a plan to kill oneself). The counselor listens to what the caller has to say and then provides information about local “resources” (things that can be used) for “mental” (relating to the mind) health.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline also has a website with “outreach” (efforts to contact) to specific populations that are “vulnerable” (likely to be hurt by) to suicide, such as the “victims” (people who are hurt by others) of “cyber bullying” (mistreatment by others online, especially among teenagers) and “veterans” (people who have returned home after completing military service in a war). The website also has stories of people who have been helped by calling the hotline and who “credit it” (say that the calling the hotline is the reason why something happened) with “saving their life” (preventing their suicide and death).

Comprehension Answers
1 - c

2 - c