Posted By: Sheri (FunReadin,Last2PostsEngBd) on 'English'
Title:     Depression, More than "just the blues"
Date:      Tue Feb 16 00:15:58 1999

There's an important difference between feeling "down" and suffering from 

When life disappoints us, when we lose a friend, when a loved one is 
seriously ill or dies.. it's natural to feel worried and sad.  Such events 
take the joy out of life, but often enough, most people bounce back in a 
short time.

But when the sadness persists or keeps returning, when everyday things like 
sleeping, working, socializing and simply enjoying life continue to be 
difficult, it's not "just the blues" you're dealing with but major depression 
- an illness that requires treatment.  and because it is an illness, 
depression can become much worse without proper care.  That's why taking the 
first step - seeing your doctor - is so critical.

This information is designed to help you understand depression as an illness 
so that if you or a loved one suffers from depression, you will recognize the 
symptoms and seek the appropriate medical care.

As you read on, keep these important points in mind.

*  Depression is a treatable illness
*  Learning more abuot depression and following your treatment program will 
   help improve your prospects for a future free of depression
*  Recovery doesn't happen overnight.  It usually takes a few weeks before 
   you see improvement - so don't get discouraged 

Symptoms of depression affect many aspects of life

Major depression requires prompt medical treatment because if symptoms affect 
nearly every aspect of living.

The tell-tale symptoms are (1) a sad, anxious or empty mood that lasts for 2 
weeks or more; or (2) loss of interest or pleasure in most activities you 
once enjoyed.  A person with depression also has several or all of these 
additional symptoms:

*  Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, guilt
*  Significant change in weight or appetite
*  changes in sleep habits (such as insomnia or oversleeping)
*  Fatigue, loss of energy, feeling, "slowed down"
*  Agitation, restlessness, irritability
*  Difficulty concentrating, making decisions
*  Frequent throughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts

What causes depression?

Both bilogical and social factors play a role in causing depression.

Medical research has shown that depression is related to a chemical imbalance 
of the substances (called neuro-transmitters) that transmit signals between 
nerve cells in the brain.  Antidepresant medication helps correct this 

Life difficulties also contribute to the onset of depression.  These can 
result from difficulties in relationships, stress at work, a series of 
disappointments or seperation from those you love - whether as a result of 
divorce, death or going away to college.

Other factors that may be associaetd with depression

*  Illnesses happening at the same time, such as chronic pain, cancer, 
   strokes or thyroid conditions 

*  Postpartum changes
*  Genetic factors (depression may run in the family)
*  Certain medications such as steroids and some high blood pressure medicines
*  Alcohol and other substance abuse

As you consider the symptoms and causes of your depression, remember these 
important points

*  Depression is an illness, just as diabetes and arthritis are illnesses.  
   Having depression is NOT your fault and it's NOT a sign of weakness. 

*  You're not alone in your struggle with depression.  As many as one in five 
   Americans will be affected by depression in their lifetime.  This means a 
   lot of people around you - family friends, neighbors - share some of the 
   same feelings you do. 

*  Talking about your symptoms with your doctor and people you trust can help 
   you find support and effective measures for dealing with your symptoms.

Anxiety symptoms often accompany deperssion

Many people with depression experience anxiety symptoms - such as agitation, 
difficulty sleeping and excessive worry.  If you have such symptoms, tell 
your doctor directly so that your treatment plan addresses them effectively.

Some patients with depression, however, also have anxiety disorders that 
require special attention, such as:

*  Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
   People with OCD have repeated, unwanted thoughts or feelings - for 
   instance, fear of picking up germs - that make them anxiuos.  These are 
   obsessions.  To neutralize the anxiety, OCD sufferers feel they must 
   perform rituals (compulsions) such as repeated washing or cleaning 

*  Panic disorder.  Patients with this condition suffer repeated panic attacks 
 - sudden periods of severe anxiety in which their heart races, they have 
   difficulty breathing and feel trapped. 

*  Other depressed patients may have social phobia - an avoidance of social or 
performance situations - or agoraphobia, which is a fear of being in public 
places or even going out of the house.

Informing you of these medical conditions is not meant to frighten you, but 
is intended to help those who have them get the required medical help.

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