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Some Basic Information on Depression…

Everyone, at various times throughout the lifecycle, may feel sad or blue. It’s normal to feel sad on occasion…this is part of being a human being. Sometimes, these feelings are a direct result of things that can occur in life; the loss of a family member of friend, leaving your support group behind when you move to a different city, or when you lose your job.

It is important to take a step back to take note of the difference between more routine/normal feelings of sadness and the feelings caused by depression. See below:

  • How intense the mood is: Depression is more intense than a simple “bad mood.”
  • How long the mood lasts: A bad mood is usually gone in a few days,  whereas depression lasts two weeks or longer.
  • How much it interferes with your everyday functioning: A bad mood doesn’t keep you from going to work or school or spending time with friends. Depression can indeed keep you from doing these things and may even make it difficult to get out of bed.

While it’s normal for people to experience ups and downs during the course of the lifecycle, those dealing with depression experience specific symptoms daily for two weeks or more, making it difficult to function in key areas such as work, at school or in relationships.

Below are some symptoms of depression:

  • Prolonged sadness or unexplained crying spells
  • Significant changes in appetite and sleep patterns
  • Irritability, anger, worry, agitation, anxiety
  • Pessimism, indifference
  • Loss of energy, persistent lethargy
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness
  • Inability to concentrate, indecisiveness
  • Inability to take pleasure in former interests, social withdrawal
  • Unexplained aches and pains
  • Recurring thoughts of death or suicide

Unfortunately, many individuals don’t get the help or support they so badly need because of the misunderstanding surrounding depression or the fear associated with stigma.

Depression is a treatable illness marked by changes in mood, thought and behavior. It affects people of all ages, races, ethnic groups and social classes. Although it can occur at any age, the illness often surfaces between the ages of 25 and 44. The statistics show that at some point in the lifecycle approximately 24 percent of women and 15 percent of men will experience an episode of major depression.

Depression involves an imbalance of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters and neuropeptides. It is important to remember that depression is not a sign that you are weak or flawed as a human being. Many of my clients with depression have been told by family and friends to simply “snap out of it” or “try to be in a better mood.” Like other physical illness, you can’t simply will depression away.

Episodes of depression often follow stressful events. People who have recurrent episodes of major depression are sometimes said to have “unipolar depression” because they only experience periods of low, or depressed mood. Someone with bipolar disorder goes through periods that are marked by both low and high moods.

Depression sometimes runs in families, but many individuals with this diagnosis have no family history of depression. The exact causes of depression still are not clear. Research currently shows that both genetics and a stressful environment, or life situation, contribute to its cause. Usually, it’s not one or the other, but a combination of both of these factors.

Treatment of depression may include support groups, medication and psychotherapy. The right treatment is the one that works best for you. In my practice, I use supportive therapy combined with CBT and mindfulness to assist my clients with depression.

To learn more about depression and other mood disorders, I encourage you to visit this website which contains some wonderful and informative resources: http://www.dbsalliance.org/site/PageServer?pagename=about_publications

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