More severe than just occasional feelings of sadness that most people experience with the ups and downs of life, depression is characterized by persistent, uncontrollable sadness, anxiety, and hopelessness that last longer than two weeks. Women and men of all ages can be affected by this condition.
A combination of factors may cause depression. Stress, and an individual’s ability to cope with it, can play a major role. If someone in your family has a history of depression or mental illness, you may be more likely to become depressed. A change in brain chemicals may also be a source. Other factors include drinking alcohol or using drugs; a recent loss such as the death of someone close to you; poor performance in school; having a baby (post-partum depression); and experiencing a major illness.
Those who are depressed have persistent feelings of sadness and anxiety and lose interest in or do not enjoy their usual activities. Some people also may experience:
- Unexplained weight loss or gain
- Crying more easily than usual
- Insomnia or excessive sleepiness
- Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Loss of interest in sex
- Frequent thoughts of suicide or death
Accepting a diagnosis of depression can be hard. It often helps to realize that it is very common medical diagnosis. There are excellent treatments available that your medical provider can prescribe.
- Get enough sleep
- Avoid alcohol and drugs
- Exercise often and remain active in life
- Eat a healthy, low-fat diet
- Seek a support group. Staying connected to other is important and therapeutic.
Seek medical attention if:
- Symptoms of depression last longer than two weeks
- You are planning to hurt yourself or someone else
- You hear voices in your head