Depression is a mood disorder that causes an ongoing feeling of sadness and loss of interest in things that you used to enjoy. Depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States and women are 70 percent more likely than men to experience depression. Depression is more than just “feeling blue” or having an off day. You may have trouble with your day-to-day activities or feel that your life isn’t worth living. Depression is NOT a normal part of growing older and should never be taken lightly. If you feel depressed, make an appointment to see your doctor right away.
Depression can take many forms (such as major depression disorder or persistent depressive disorder) and may occur once during your life or may occur many times. During episodes of depression, you will have symptoms most of your day and nearly every day.
Are you having any of these symptoms of depression?
- Depressed mood
- Loss of interest in things that you used to bring you happiness and joy
- Memory difficulties or personality changes
- Feeling tired
- Wanting to stay home instead of going out
- Problems sleeping or sleeping too much
- Feeling sad or unhappy
- Changes in your appetite
- Physical complaints such as headache, digestive problems and chronic pain
- Thoughts of death or suicide
If you have signs and symptoms of depression, call your doctor and make an appointment. With proper treatment, most people improve and return to their normal activities.
There are a number of factors that appear to increase your chances of becoming depressed. Typically depression is a result of a combination of biological, environmental and psychological factors.
- Family history of depression in a parent, sibling or child
- High stress situations and major life events such as loss of a loved one through death or divorce, job layoffs and illness
- Past traumatic events such as childhood abuse, war combat or witnessing a serious crime
- Alcohol or drug use
- Psychological issues such as low-self-esteem or being pessimistic
- Mental illness
- Chronic illness or medical condition
Depression may get worse if not treated and ongoing treatment including medication and/or counseling may benefit you. There are many types of medications available to treat depression and your provider can help decide what will work best for you. Counseling can also be very effective for depression and can help provide you with coping tools. Your doctor will work with you to decide what treatment will be best for you and your situation.
Depression can be caused by a variety of things including your biological traits and brain chemistry, hormone changes, inherited traits and traumatic life events.
There is no sure way to prevent depression, but there are some strategies that may help:
- Learn to control your stress, anger and sadness
- Don’t isolate yourself
- Eat well, exercise and get enough sleep
- Avoid alcohol and recreational drugs
- Reach out to your family and friends for support
- Call your doctor as soon as you notice feelings of depression
- Take medications as prescribed and see your doctor regularly