One thing I have learned is this: you can't run and hide from depression.
I have gotten many emails in the past few weeks about friends, students, people all over the World asking about depression. I am not a therapist or a Doctor. I can only tell you my own personal struggle with depression, share with you what I do to help the depression.
Depression is a real illness like diabetes or any other illness. I listen to people all the time say things such as: it is all in there head, why don't they just get off the couch and go for a run or walk, why don't they eat better....and so on.
Why, why, why???
Until you have experienced depression yourself of have been with someone who suffers depression it is very hard to understand.
Below is some information that I hope will help you today. I am here for all of you as your friend.
Please share with all of us the ways you deal with depression or ask other questions on how you can help someone you know that is suffering from depression.
There are several signs and symptoms that help a healthcare professional determine if a person is suffering from depression. In general, a person must have five (or more) of the symptoms listed below during the same two-week period.
These symptoms must represent a change from the way he or she used to function. In addition, at least one of the symptoms must be either
#1 depressed mood or #2 loss of interest or pleasure in activities.
Common symptoms of depression1 1. Depressed or irritable mood most of the day—nearly every day
2. Loss of interest or pleasure in activities (such as hobbies, work, sex, or being with friends) most of the day—nearly every day
3. A sudden change in weight (weight loss without dieting, gaining more than 5% of body weight in 1 month), or a change in appetite
4. Inability to sleep or sleeping too much, nearly every day
5. Agitation or restlessness (observed by others) nearly every day
6. Constant fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day
7. Frequent feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt nearly every day
8. Difficulty concentrating or making decisions nearly every day
9. Frequent thoughts of death or suicide (or a suicide attempt or plan) /
Important note: If you or someone you know has thoughts of suicide, seek professional help immediately through your healthcare professional, or call 411 to get the phone number for the nearest local suicide hotline./ In addition to having five or more of the symptoms above, in order to lead to the diagnosis of major depressive disorder (MDD)This is a physician's term for a specific type of depression.
A person who suffers from a major depressive disorder must have either a depressed mood or a loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities. The person must have these symptoms consistently for at least a two-week period. Furthermore, this mood must represent a change from the person's normal mood. It should also be having a negative impact on his or her daily function, such as family, work, socializing, etc. A depressed mood caused by drugs or alcohol, or one caused by a medical condition, is not considered a major depressive disorder. Remember, only a doctor can properly diagnose this or any other disorder.
<../resources/glossary/terms_m-p.aspx>, the symptoms must cause significant distress or impair the person's ability to function.
This means the symptoms have a negative affect on how the person functions socially, at his or her job, or in some other aspect of their life. It's important to know that there are several different illnesses that can account for symptoms of depression.
Your doctor or other healthcare professional must rule out other possible causes (including other medicines or illegal drugs) before diagnosing you with depression.^
1 There are many reasons, or even a combination of reasons why a person might become depressed. These include traumatic life experiences such as the death of a loved one, certain diseases or medicines, substance abuse, hormonal changes, or a family history of depression. Sometimes the cause of depression is unknown. More often it is a combination of genetic, psychological, and environmental factors that bring on a depressive episode.^
1 Whatever the circumstances, depression is caused by an imbalance of certain chemicals in the brain. Normally, these “chemical messengers” help nerve cells communicate with one another by sending and receiving messages. They may also influence a person's mood. In the case of depression, the available supply of the chemical messengers is low, so nerve cells can't communicate effectively. This often results in symptoms of depression .
Anyone, regardless of age, gender, race, or socioeconomic status, can suffer from depression. A disease that affects millions of Americans each year, believed to be caused by an imbalance of certain chemicals in the brain, called neurotransmitters. <../resources/glossary/terms_d-l.aspx>.
It is estimated that 19 million American adults 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, 4 out of 5 patients will improve.^
1 People who suffer from depression are not just moody or have “the blues” for a few days. They experience long periods of feeling very sad and lose interest in social and daily activities. Many feel they have no concentration and no energy. Depression can change the way a person feels, thinks, and behaves.
* The causes of depression are not always clear. It may be triggered by an event or for no apparent reason at all. Genetics may also play a role in not providing your brain with enough serotonin. A neurotransmitter that is believed to influence mood. SSRIs help relieve the symptoms of depression by increasing the available supply of serotonin in the brain. <../resources/glossary/terms_q-s.aspx>. Learn more about the causes of depression
Some symptoms may include a persistent sad mood, lack of pleasure in activities, change in sleep or eating habits, or a feeling of worthlessness. Learn more about the symptoms of depression
* Dealing with depression can be challenging. But it is treatable with medicine and therapy.
Read more about treatment options
Did you know that a person can experience both depression and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) at the same time? Learn more about the connection between depression and GAD
*References: 1.* National Advisory Mental Health Council. Healthcare reform for Americans with severe mental illnesses. /Am J Psychiatry/. 1993;150:1447-65.
Depression is Not the Same for Everyone You don't need to experience all of the signs and symptoms listed above to be diagnosed with 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. Be sure to seek the assistance of a healthcare professional so they can determine if you have symptoms of depression.
If you think you may be experiencing symptoms of depression, take the Depression Self-Screener <../check_symptoms/dep_screener.aspx> and then discuss the results with your healthcare professional. Did you know the symptoms of depression and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) can overlap? Or that a person can experience both conditions at the same time? Learn more about the overlap of depression and GAD