Wednesday, August 23, 2017
Mental Health and Depression
Depression is a medical condition that affects individuals and those who share their lives. Everyone knows what it is like to feel sad, down or “blue” from time to time. In fact, transitory feelings of sadness or discouragement are perfectly normal, especially during particularly difficult times. But, when these feelings continue for more than a few weeks and are accompanied by certain other physical and mental symptoms, doctors call the condition depression. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide. Depression, if left untreated, can lead to suicide. Fortunately, depression can be treated effectively with therapy and/or medication. Depression screening provides awareness about depression and enables people with depression to seek necessary treatment. Anyone, regardless of age, gender, race, or socioeconomic status, can suffer from depression. It is estimated that 19 million Americans suffer from depression every year. Depression is not a weakness or a character flaw—it is a real medical illness. But the good news is that with proper treatment, patients can improve. People who have depression are not just moody or having "the blues" for a few days. They have long periods of feeling very sad and lose interest in social and daily activities. Depression changes the way a person feels, thinks, and behaves. The causes of depression are not always clear. It may be caused by an event or for no apparent reason at all. Genes may also play a role. The symptoms of depression may differ from person to person. Some symptoms may include a persistent sad mood, lack of pleasure in activities, change in sleep or eating habits, or a feeling of worthlessness. There are several signs and symptoms that help a healthcare professional or doctor determine if a person has depression. The following is a depression risk questionnaire. Have you noticed any of these signs of depression? Change in sleeping pattern (too much, too little, or disturbances) Change in weight or appetite Speaking and/or moving with unusual speed or slowness Loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities Withdrawal from family and friends Fatigue or loss of energy Diminished ability to think or concentrate, slowed thinking or indecisiveness Feelings of worthlessness, self-reproach or guilt Thoughts of death, suicide or wishes to be dead You should seek professional help if you or someone you know has had some of the symptoms continually or most of the time for more than two weeks. You don't need to have all these signs and symptoms to have depression. Symptoms will also vary from person to person. For instance, compared with depressed men, depressed women are more likely to experience guilt, weight gain, anxiety, eating disorders, or increased sleep. Depressed older adults tend to experience persistent sadness or "empty" moods. It is important to remember that depression is a medical condition like any other. And, just as there are treatments for conditions like diabetes or heart disease, there are treatment options available for depression. Remember—depression is more than just feeling down. It is a real medical condition that can be effectively treated, but first you must seek help. The diagnosis and treatment of any medical illness or condition, including depression and other psychiatric disorders, can only be performed by a physician or qualified mental health professional. Unfortunately, many fail to recognize the illness and get the treatment that would alleviate their suffering. They or their loved ones fail to notice a pattern and instead may attribute the physical symptoms to "the flu," the sleeping and eating problems to "stress," and the emotional problems to lack of sleep or improper eating. But if people looked at all of these symptoms together and noticed that they occur over long periods of time, they might recognize them as signs of depression. The term "depression" can be confusing since it's often used to describe normal emotional reactions. At the same time, the illness may be hard to recognize because its symptoms may be so easily attributed to other causes. People tend to deny the existence of depression by saying things like, "She has a right to be depressed! Look at what she's gone through." This attitude fails to recognize that people can go through tremendous hardships and stress without developing depression, and that those who suffer from depression can and should seek treatment. For many victims of depression, these mental and physical feelings seem to follow them night and day, appear to have no end, and are not alleviated by happy events or good news. Some people are so disabled by feelings of despair that they cannot even build up the energy to call a doctor. If someone else calls for them, they may refuse to go because they are so hopeless that they think there's no point to it. Family, friends, and co-workers offer advice, help, and comfort. But over time, they become frustrated with victims of depression because their efforts are to no avail. The person won't follow advice, refuses help, and denies the comfort. But persistence can pay off. Remember the person suffering from depression is not alone – more than one out of six individuals suffer from depression in their lifetime. I hope by providing some of this information, it makes it a little easier to discuss with your medical professional.