Depression is a medical illness that affects both the mind and body; it affects how you feel, think and behave. Depression is more than just a bout of the blues: it is a chronic condition that usually requires long-term treatment. The good news is most people with depression feel better with counseling or another form of treatment…Feelings of sadness and grief are typical responses to tough life events – loss of a loved one or job, news of a chronic illness, disappointment, devastating world events, and many other causes. Depression is different from sadness – it persists and can debilitate. Who has depression? Depression doesn’t discriminate based on age, race, income, or religion. In fact, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (2017), approximately 16 million adult Americans have experienced a major depressive episode within the past year. What does depression look like? Depression isn’t obvious. Depression is not the same as “feeling depressed”. People with depression may have:
- Feelings of being helpless or worthless
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Unexplained episodes of feeling sad or crying
- A change in appetite and/or sleep (increase or decrease)
- A decrease in energy
- A decrease or loss of interest in normal activities/hobbies
- Difficulty focusing/mental fog
- Physical ailments not able to be explained by physical causes
- Thoughts of suicide
How do I know if I have depression? A licensed mental health professional or physician can diagnose depression. You may be asked about the above symptoms or given screening assessments to assure an accurate diagnosis.
What causes depression? How is it treated? Genetics, brain chemistry, and/or stressful life events can contribute to depression. Depression is often treated with antidepressant medications or psychotherapy (counseling), or a combination of the two. Because brain chemistry and genetics do contribute to depression, the type of antidepressant prescribed can vary. (Source: NIMH, 2018) If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, available at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or you can visit www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org or call 9-1-1.