Depression is an extremely difficult disease to deal with because it is easily masked within the context of everyday life. It’s easy to brush away feelings of sadness, anger and irritation as a product of a stressful life. Everyone has felt depressed at one time or another, but not everyone has suffered from depression.
Depression is commonly described as feeling like a black curtain has come down over your life or that you’re walking around carrying a bag full of bricks. This dark heaviness is not fleeting, but a feeling that persists. If you feel intense sadness for two weeks or more, this could be a sign of major depression or clinical depression – a treatable medical condition.
Common Symptoms of Depression
- Constant feelings of sadness, irritability or tension
- Decreased interest or pleasure in usual activities or hobbies
- Loss of energy, feeling tired
- Change in appetite, with significant weight loss or weight gain
- Change in sleeping patterns, such as difficulty sleeping, early morning awakening or sleeping too much
- Restlessness or feeling like everything’s in slow motion
- Persistent aches and pains
- Decreased ability to make decisions or concentrate
- Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness or guilt
- Thoughts of suicide or death
If you experience any of these symptoms for two weeks, be sure to talk with your doctor about whether you’re suffering from depression.
Causes of Depression
Depression is not something that a person can just ‘get over.’ Although no one knows for sure, it is believed that depression stems from a chemical imbalance in the brain caused by genetics or events in a person’s life. Our brain controls the body’s every move and process through nerve cells called neurons. Neurons send and receive messages from the rest of the body using chemicals called neurotransmitters. It is these chemicals that are responsible for our emotional states. Depression occurs when the messages aren’t being clearly communicated due to an imbalance of neurotransmitters.
The Good news is that depression is a treatable condition. There are a variety of options that you can take advantage of depending on what’s comfortable for you. Unfortunately there is no quick fix for depression. Often, it takes trying a few medications to find the one that works best or discovering the right combination of treatments.
Medication – Doctors can prescribe a wide variety of antidepressants and other mood stabilizers. Antidepressants can take anywhere from 4 – 6 weeks to begin working so be patient if this is the route you’re taking.
Psychotherapy – This is just a fancy way of saying ‘talk therapy.’ It may not alleviate depression symptoms on its own, but it generally works well when used in combination with medication. Talking about your condition with another person can be a great way to open up about your feelings as well as learning techniques to recognize and deal with reoccuring symptoms.
Electric Shock Treatment (ECT) – ECT is reserved for when medication fails to make a difference. It is a safe and effective treatment for severe depression. A finely controlled electric current is applied to the scalp, inducing a brief seizure. Electroshock therapy is one of the most widely misunderstood treatments; however, it is perfectly safe when done by medical professionals and can be one quickest forms of relief.
Many people who suffer from depression find that it’s an ongoing battle. Here are a few tips that will help you manage your depression
*Avoid alchocol (a depressant) and caffeine
*Keep good sleep habits
*Find ways to manage stress effectively
*Eat a healthy diet consisting of a wide variety of foods and nutrients
Most people who suffer from depression never get the help they need. If you suspect you might suffer from depression, talk with your doctor about treatment options for you. No matter how bad things seem, depression is treatable condition, but you have to take the first step!
If you experience any thoughts of suicide, call 911 or get yourself safely to an emergency room.