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 depression. 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 imbalance. 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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