Understanding Depression

Depression is a very common illness within society today, affecting between 2-5% of people nationwide. The World Health Organization estimates that Depression is the 11th greatest cause of disability and mortality worldwide among 291 diseases and other causes of injury. The causes and symptoms vary greatly, and can be unique to each individual patient.

Depression is not a sign of weakness, but rather it is a common, treatable, but serious illness. It can be caused by stressful events such as job loss, financial strain, relationship conflict, or death of a loved one. It can also be seen more in people who have a close relative afflicted with Depression. This illness is commonly accompanies other medical conditions such as pain, chronic disease, loss of function, hormonal changes, menstrual cycles, post partum, and menopause.

Symptoms of depression are numerous, and vary from person to person. The presence of any of these symptoms nearly every day for 2 weeks or longer may be a sign of clinical depression:

  • Depressed mood: sadness, irritability, tearfulness, anger
  • Little interest or pleasure in activities you normally enjoy
  • Increase or decrease in weight or appetite
  • Sleeping much more or less than usual
  • Restlessness or decreased activity
  • Fatigue, loss of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Persistent negative thoughts

Depression is diagnosed by clinical history and screening questionnaires. There are numerous different options for treating Depression including:

  • Lifestyle changes (exercise, healthy eating, making time for pleasurable activities, avoiding alcohol, setting a routine sleep pattern, spending time with friends and loved ones)
  • Regular meetings with your doctor or psychotherapist
  • Anti depressant medication
  • Involving your family and close friends

If you feel that any of these symptoms apply to you, please contact your doctor. Depression is a treatable illness, and you are not alone.