Depression is a common but serious illness, and most who experience it need treatment to get well again. Many people with depression never seek out treatment. But the vast majority, even those with the most severe depression, can get well again with treatment. Intensive research into depression has resulted in the development of medications, psychotherapies, and other methods to treat people with this disabling disorder.
In any given 1-year period, 9.5 percent of the population, or about 18.8 million American adults, suffer from depression. The economic cost for depression is excessive, but the cost in human suffering cannot be estimated. Depression can often interfere with normal functioning and cause pain and suffering not only to those who have a disorder, but also to those who worry about them. Major depression can ruin family life as well as the life of the ill person. But much of this suffering due to depression is unnecessary.
As mentioned, most people with depression do not try to find treatment, although the vast majority, even those whose depression is extremely severe, can be helped. Thanks to years of extensive research, there are now medications and psychosocial therapies such as cognitive and behavioral, “talk” or interpersonal that ease the pain of depression.
Unfortuanately, many people do not acknowledge depression is a treatable illness. If you feel that you or someone you care about is one of the many who have undiagnosed depression, informational sites like http://www.depression-facts.com may help you take the steps that may save your own or someone else’s life.
SYMPTOMS OF DEPRESSION
– Persistant sad, anxious, or “empty mood”
– Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism
– Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
– Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed, including sex
– Decreased energy, fatigue, being “slowed down”
– Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
– Insomnia, early morning awakening, or oversleeping
– Appetite and/or weight loss of overeating and weight gain
– Thoughts of death or suicide; suicide attempts
– Restlessness, irritability
– Persistant physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain
What are the different forms of depression?
There are several forms of depressive disorders. The most common are major depressive disorder and dysthymic disorder.
Major depressive disorder, also called major depression, is characterized by a combination of symptoms that interfere with a person’s ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy once-pleasurable activities. Major depression is disabling and prevents a person from functioning normally. An episode of major depression may occur only once in a person’s lifetime, but more often, it recurs throughout a person’s life.
Dysthymic disorder, also called dysthymia, is depression characterized by long-term (two years or longer) but less severe symptoms that may not disable a person but can prevent one from functioning naturally or feeling well. People with dysthymia may also experience one or more episodes of major depression during their lifetimes.
Some forms of depressive disorder exhibit slightly different characteristics than those described above, or they may develop under unique circumstances. However, not all scientists agree on how to characterize and define these forms of depression. They include:
Psychotic depression, which occurs when a severe depressive illness is accompanied by some form of psychosis, such as a break with reality, hallucinations, and delusions.
Postpartum depression, which is diagnosed if a new mother develops a major depressive episode within one month after delivery. It is estimated that 10 to 15 percent of women experience postpartum depression after giving birth.1
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is characterized by the onset of a depressive illness during the winter months, when there is less natural sunlight. The depression generally lifts during spring and summer. SAD may be effectively treated with light therapy, but nearly half of those with SAD do not respond to light therapy alone. Antidepressant medication and psychotherapy can reduce SAD symptoms, either alone or in combination with light therapy.2
Bipolar disorder, also called manic-depressive illness, is not as common as major depression or dysthymia. Bipolar disorder is characterized by cycling mood changes-from extreme highs (e.g., mania) to extreme lows (e.g., depression). Visit the NIMH website for more information about bipolar disorder.
WHERE TO GET DEPRESSION HELP
– Family doctors
– Mental health specialists, such as psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, or mental health councelors
– Health maintenance organizations
– Community mental health centers
– Hospital psychiatry departments and outpatient clinics
– University or medical school affiliated programs
– State hospital outpatient clinics
– Family service, social agencies or clergy
– Private clinics and facilities
– Employee assistance programs
– Local medical and/or psychiatric societies
There is no single known cause of depression. Rather, it likely results from a combination of genetic, biochemical, environmental, and psychological factors. Depression is more common among women than among men. Biological, life cycle, hormonal and psychosocial factors unique to women may be linked to women’s higher depression rate. Men often experience depression differently than women and may have different ways of coping with the symptoms. Men are more likely to acknowledge having fatigue, irritability, loss of interest in once-pleasurable activities, and sleep disturbances, whereas women are more likely to admit to feelings of sadness, worthlessness and/or excessive guilt.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT DEPRESSION
– Get the depression facts at http://www.depression-facts.com
– Depression information at NIMH.com (National Institute of Mental Health)
– National Library of Medicine Clinical Trials Database – clinicaltrials.gov
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