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Depression

Depression Basics

Some people say that depression feels like a black curtain of despair coming down over their lives. Many people feel like they have no energy and can't concentrate. Others feel irritable all the time for no apparent reason. The symptoms vary from person to person, but if you feel "down" for more than two weeks, and these feelings are interfering with your daily life, you may be clinically depressed.

Most people who have gone through one episode of depression will, sooner or later, have another one. You may begin to feel some of the symptoms of depression several weeks before you develop a full-blown episode of depression. Learning to recognize these early triggers or symptoms and working with your doctor will help to keep the depression from worsening.

Most people with depression never seek help, even though the majority will respond to treatment. Treating depression is especially important because it affects you, your family, and your work. Some people with depression try to harm themselves in the mistaken belief that how they are feeling will never change. Depression is a treatable illness.

Life with depression
Working with your doctor, you can learn to manage depression. You may have to try a few different medications to find the one that works best for you. Your doctor may also recommend that you see a therapist and/or make certain lifestyle changes.

Change won't come overnight—but with the right treatment, you can keep depression from overshadowing your life.

Also of Interest
See how depression affects the brain.

Do you know the common symptoms of depression? Try this questionnaire.
Depression-Related Mood Disorders

Major depressive disorder, commonly referred to as "depression," can severely disrupt your life, affecting your appetite, sleep, work, and relationships.

The symptoms that help a doctor identify depression include:

    * constant feelings of sadness, irritability, or tension
      decreased interest or pleasure in usual activities or hobbies
      loss of energy, feeling tired despite lack of activity
      a change in appetite, with significant weight loss or weight gain
      a change in sleeping patterns, such as difficulty sleeping, early morning awakening, or sleeping too much
      restlessness or feeling slowed down
      decreased ability to make decisions or concentrate
      feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, or guilt
      thoughts of suicide or death


If you are experiencing any or several of these symptoms, you should talk to your doctor about whether you are suffering from depression.

If you are in an immediate serious crisis please contact your doctor or go to your local hospital or emergency room.

Dysthymia is another mood disorder. People who have it may feel mildly depressed on most days over a period of at least two years. They have many symptoms resembling major depression, but with less severity.

Symptoms of depression may surface with other mood disorders. They include seasonal major depression (also known as seasonal affective disorder), postpartum depression, and bipolar disorder.

Seasonal Affective Disorder has symptoms that are seen with any major depressive episode. It is the recurrence of the symptoms during certain seasons that is the hallmark of this type of depression.

Postpartum Depression is a type of depression that can occur in women who have recently given birth. It typically occurs in the first few months after delivery, but can happen within the first year after giving birth. The symptoms are those seen with any major depressive episode. Often, postpartum depression interferes with the mother's ability to bond with her newborn. It is very important to seek help if you are experiencing postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is different from the "Baby Blues", which tend to occur the first few days after delivery and resolve spontaneously.

Bipolar disorder, another mood disorder, is different than major depressive disorder and has different treatments. For more information go to bipolar.com.

Also of Interest
Create your personal depression treatment plan with your doctor.
Causes of Depression

Depression has no single cause; often, it results from a combination of things. You may have no idea why depression has struck you.

Whatever its cause, depression is not just a state of mind. It is related to physical changes in the brain, and connected to an imbalance of a type of chemical that carries signals in your brain and nerves. These chemicals are called neurotransmitters.

Some of the more common factors involved in depression are:

Family history. Genetics play an important part in depression. It can run in families for generations.

Trauma and stress. Things like financial problems, the breakup of a relationship, or the death of a loved one can bring on depression. You can become depressed after changes in your life, like starting a new job, graduating from school, or getting married.

Pessimistic personality. People who have low self-esteem and a negative outlook are at higher risk of becoming depressed. These traits may actually be caused by low-level depression (called dysthymia).

Physical conditions. Serious medical conditions like heart disease, cancer, and HIV can contribute to depression, partly because of the physical weakness and stress they bring on. Depression can make medical conditions worse, since it weakens the immune system and can make pain harder to bear. In some cases, depression can be caused by medications used to treat medical conditions.

Other psychological disorders. Anxiety disorders, eating disorders, schizophrenia, and (especially) substance abuse often appear along with depression.
 
Who Gets Depression?

Although depression can make you feel alone, 16% of Americans will have it during their lifetime. While depression can affect anyone, its effect may vary depending on your age and gender.

Women are almost twice as likely to become depressed as men. The higher risk may be due partly to hormonal changes brought on by puberty, menstruation, menopause, and pregnancy.

Men. Although their risk for depression is lower, men are more likely to go undiagnosed and less likely to seek help. They may show the typical symptoms of depression, but are more likely to be angry and hostile or to mask their condition with alcohol or drug abuse. Suicide is an especially serious risk for men with depression, who are four times more likely than women to kill themselves.

Elderly. Older people may lose loved ones and have to adjust to living alone. They may become physically ill and unable to be as active as they once were. These changes can all contribute to depression. Loved ones may attribute the signs of depression to the normal results of aging, and many older people are reluctant to talk about their symptoms. As a result, older people may not receive treatment for their depression.

You can access this information directly from depression.co
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