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What is Depression?

Topics: Depression

Depression is more than having a bad day or feeling sad now and then. It’s not a feeling that passes quickly or that you can snap out of easily. It’s a serious emotional health condition where individuals feel persistent sadness, and that sadness — along with other symptoms — interferes with school, work and daily life.

Depression is different for each person. One person might be too sad to even get out of bed; another person might express his/her depression through anger or restlessness. If you’re not sure if you — or a friend — is struggling with depression, consider the symptoms listed below. Depression can be effectively treated so don’t hesitate to reach out for help.

Signs & Symptoms

Symptoms of depression can vary. Individuals might experience symptoms that are emotional, physical or behavioral, or any combination of the three.

• Feelings of sadness or irritability
• Agitation, restlessness or anger
• Inability to sleep or sleep too much
• Loss of appetite or an increase in appetite
• Hopelessness, guilt or worthlessness
• Loss of interest in activities you typically enjoy
• Thoughts of death or suicide
• Difficulty concentrating, remembering things or making decisions
• Easily distracted
• Easily exhausted; taking more effort than usual to do things
• Physical problems like headaches, back pain or digestive trouble
• Crying more than usual
• Overly sensitive to situations
• Isolating from friends and family
• Abusing drugs or alcohol

Treating Depression

Depression is different for every person and so treatment plans are customized to match the individual’s symptoms. . Psychotherapy or “talk therapy” effectively treats depression. One common type of psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), is based on the premise that it isn’t events that makes one feel sad or angry but how one thinks about and react to these events. In CBT, the therapist helps the person recognize negative thoughts, attitudes and behaviors that perpetuate the depression and replace them with positive patterns of thinking and behavior.

Antidepressant medications may be prescribed to reduce depression symptoms. It can take time to find the best medication for any particular individual. It is always important to talk to the doctor about any concerns. Each medication can affect individuals differently, so it is important to ask about side effects and when the medication is supposed to take effect. Medications should be taken exactly as prescribed and the doctot should be told about experiencing side effects or any changes in one’s thoughts, feelings or behaviors.

Hospitalization becomes an option for individuals who can’t take care of themselves or are thinking of harming themselves or someone else. Hospitalization gives doctors time to determine and initiate the best treatment plan and begin to monitor the individual’s response to the treatment plan.

What You Can Do

In addition to meeting with a counselor and following the recommended treatment plan, here are some other important components of feeling better.

Lead a healthy lifestyle. This includes eating a balanced diet, exercising and getting enough sleep. All these things are key to one’s well-being, and keeping one’s mood and energy levels in check.
Avoid drugs and reduce alcohol intake. Some people turn to drugs and alcohol to feel better. However, over time, these substances can make an individual feel worse and make the depression tougher to treat.
Know your signs. Through working with a therapist one can find out what triggers the depression and identify early warning signs for feeling depressed. This prevents depression symptoms from worsening.
Develop healthy ways to cope. When one is upset or angry, it’s important to engage in healthy behaviors to make oneself feel better. Healthy behaviors may include writing in a journal, attending a support group, hanging out with friends, doing volunteer work, meditating, physical exercise, getting a massage and listening to music.