What is Depression? Learn About the Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments
Depression Affects More than 16.1 Million American Adults. Know What Depression Is, and How to Spot the Symptoms.
Depression affects more than 16.1 million American adults, or about 7 percent, each year. Teenagers also experience depression at alarmingly high rates. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about 6 percent of children aged 12-17 suffer from depression. While many people suffer from depression, only a fraction seek help and receive the proper care. During Mental Health Awareness month, Primo Prevention asks you to reach out to those suffering from depression and help them get the treatment they need to live a healthy life.
Depression is often confused with sadness. It can look similar because it can be set off by the same events, such as an end of a relationship, the loss of a job, or failing an important test. When someone feels sad, however, the feeling ends after a short period of time, and the person is able to move on with his or her life normally. When someone is depressed, however, they experience long-lasting unhappiness, despair, and hopelessness that affects their daily life. People who suffer from depression are not able to find pleasure in normal activities for weeks, months, or even years.
There are several types of depression. The most common type is major depression disorder in which the symptoms interfere with a person’s ability to work, sleep, eat, and enjoy life. Episodes of major depression can last from six to 12 months. Other types of depression include dysthymia, atypical depression, and manic depression. Each type of depression interferes with a person’s ability to function and realize the joy in life in some capacity. All types of depression can cause the person to exhibit specific symptoms.
Symptoms of Depression:
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies
- Chronic low energy
- Sudden weight gain or weight loss
- Difficulty concentrating
- Increased irritability and restlessness
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
- A change in sleep patterns
- Disengagement from friends or family
- Persistent sadness
- Expression of thoughts of death or suicide
Do You or Someone You Know Have an Increased Risk for Depression?
Anyone can be affected by depression at any time in their life. However, some factors increase a person’s chance of depression. Researchers believe that depression is caused by a combination of genetics, chemical changes in the brain, and environmental factors. In other words, if a family member has suffered from depression, you have a greater chance of also being affected. In addition to family history, gender also comes into play. Women are 70 percent more likely to experience depression in their life than men. The National Alliance of Mental Health (NAMI) reports substance abuse increases a person’s chance of depression. Subsequently, 30 percent of people with substance abuse problems are also depressed.
Major life events, both good and bad, can also increase the risk of depression. Events such as a going through a divorce, having a child, losing a loved one, or even buying a house can all cause depression. Certain medications have been associated with depression as well such as blood pressure medicine, sleeping pills, and pain killers. If you or someone you know has these increased risk factors and is exhibiting the common symptoms of depression, it may be time to seek help.
Depression Treatment, Getting Them the Help they Need
Many people may not realize they are depressed. If you feel that someone close to you is suffering from depression, there are effective treatment options that can help. First and foremost, ensure they do not act on their depression in a self-harming way. For long-term treatment, anti-depressant medication and psychological therapy have both been proven to be equally effective in treating depression. A healthcare professional will be able to determine which type of medication, therapy, or a combination of both will be best for an individual.
With depression being the number one leading cause of disability in the United States, and as many as two-thirds of people who are depressed not receiving the proper treatment according to the National Network of Depression Centers, education is more important than ever. Help spread the awareness about depression during Mental Health Awareness month, and contact Primo Prevention today. Together, we can help individuals get the treatment they need to feel like themselves again.
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