Hormones or a chemical imbalance are believed to cause some cases of depression.
Depression also can be triggered by a life event, such as the death of a
loved one or losing a job.
Grief is not considered depression. However, grief can lead to depression
or cause similar feelings.
Who can get depression?
Depression can affect anyone at any time.
Women are more likely than men to get depression.
People with a family history of depression are more likely to get depression.
However, not everyone with a family history of depression will get depression.
What are the symptoms of depression? Most people feel sad or down every once in awhile. Feeling down is a common
response to everyday stress. Feeling sad is cause for worry when sadness lasts
a long time or keeps you from living your normal life. If you have four of more
of these symptoms, you may be experiencing depression:
avoiding the people and activities you used to enjoy.
crying often, sometimes for no reason.
feeling sad, lonely, guilty, or angry.
changes in sleeping patterns. Sleeping too much or being unable to sleep
even when you feel tired.
changes in eating patterns. Gaining or losing a significant amount of
feeling tired. Loss of energy or motivation.
having a hard time making decisions. Not being able to concentrate.
having unexplained aches and pains.
thoughts of death, suicide, or hurting yourself or someone else.
How is depression treated?
Everyone's treatment is different.
If you think you're depressed, you need the help of a doctor and loved ones.
It's best to start treatment as soon as you realize you're depressed.
A doctor can help you talk about your feelings and problems. This is called
A doctor may also recommend an antidepressant medication.
Most treatment lasts a short time, usually a few weeks to a few months.
For some people, treatment may last longer.
How can I help myself? The following questions might help you and your doctor better understand
your feelings of depression. Decreasing everyday stress might also help you
How do I feel?
How often do I feel this way?
When do I usually feel this way?
Why do I feel this way?
What makes me happy?
Eat a good diet. Healthy food will give your body energy.
Exercise. Exercise helps release stress.
Talk to a friend or family member each day.
Spend time with people who make you feel good.
Set a goal (to exercise more, to learn a new skill, to try something
Set aside time each day just for you. Relax or do something that you
Get regular check-ups. Tell your doctor how you feel.
When should I call the doctor?
Call the doctor if you have thoughts of suicide or thoughts about hurting
yourself or others. Call a friend if you don't want to call the doctor.
Call the doctor if you think you are depressed.
Call the doctor if you have four or more symptoms of depression.
Depression is a mood disorder.
A life event or hormones can cause depression.
Depression can affect anyone at any time.
Feeling sad is cause for worry when sadness lasts a long time or keeps you
from living your normal life. These feelings could be a sign of depression.
If you think you're depressed, call the doctor.
You can help yourself and your doctor by trying to understand how you feel
and by decreasing the stress in your life.
Call the doctor or a friend if you have thoughts of hurting yourself or
National Depressive and Manic-Depressive Association, "Overview of Depression
and Its Symptoms," July 2001. URL: http://www.ndmda.org/depover.htm
Rebecca Jacobs, R.N., M.A., Allison Milburn, Ph.D., "Blues or Depression,"
Iowa Health Book, August 1991. URL: http://www.vh.org/Patients/IHB/Psych/PatientEdmaterials/Blues.html
Kimberly A. Rawlings, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, "Suffering depression:
Being Down But Not Out," Navy Health Book, January 1999. URL: http://www.vnh.org/NHB/HW9904depression.html
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