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Facts About Depression

about depression What is depression?

Most people have felt sad or depressed at times. Feeling depressed can be a normal reaction to loss, life's struggles, or an injured self-esteem.
But when feelings of intense sadness including feeling helpless, hopeless, and worthless last for many days to weeks and keep you from functioning normally, your depression may be something more than sadness. It may very well be clinical depression - a treatable medical condition.
Depression is a common, serious illness and not a personal weakness. Depression can happen to anyone, at any age, and to people of any race or ethnic group.
Depression, which is treatable, can come from chemical imbalances in the brain, hormonal changes, medications or things going on in your life.
Women suffer from depression twice as often as men. One out of four women may have depression sometime during their lifetime. Many people suffer with depression but do not seek help.

What are the symptoms of depression?
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, people with depressive illnesses don't all experience the same symptoms. How severe they are, how frequent, and how long they last will vary depending on the individual and his or her particular illness. Here are common symptoms people with depression experience:
- Persistent sad, anxious or "empty" mood
- Sleeping too much or too little, middle of the night or early morning waking
- Reduced appetite and weight loss, or increased appetite and weight gain
- Loss of pleasure and interest in activities once enjoyed, including sex
- Restlessness, irritability
- Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment (such as chronic pain or digestive disorders)
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Feeling guilty, hopeless or worthless
- Thoughts of suicide or death

What causes depression?
Depression isn’t a simple condition with a known cause. Some people are more susceptible to depressive episodes while others are not. It’s important to discuss symptoms with your doctor. There are several possible causes of depression.
Genetic - Depression may be an inherited condition. You may have a higher likelihood of experiencing a depressive disorder at some point in your life if you have a family member with depression. The exact gene involved in this is unknown.
Biological - People with depression may have too little or too much of certain brain chemicals. Changes in these brain chemicals may cause or play a role in clinical depression.
Medications - Side effects of some medications can bring about depression.
Cognitive - People with negative thinking patterns and low self-esteem are more likely to develop clinical depression.
Situational - Difficult life events, including divorce, financial problems or the death of a loved one can contribute to depression.

How is depression treated?
Depression is very treatable, with the overwhelming majority of those who seek treatment showing improvement. The most commonly used treatments are antidepressant medication, psychotherapy or a combination of the two. The choice of treatment depends on the pattern, severity, persistence of depressive symptoms and the history of the illness. As with many illnesses, early treatment is more effective and helps prevent the likelihood of serious recurrences. Depression must be treated by a physician or qualified mental health professional.