What is it?
Clinical depression impacts all aspects of everyday life including eating, sleeping, working, relationships, and how a person thinks about himself/herself. People who are depressed cannot simply will themselves to feel better or just “snap out of it.”
Who gets depressed?
Depression affects approximately 19 million Americans, or 9.5% of the population in any given one-year period. At some point in their lives, 10%-25% of women and 5%-12% of men will become depressed.
Signs and symptoms
- Sadness, anxiety, or “empty” feelings
- Decreased energy, fatigue, being “slowed down”
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities that were once enjoyed, including sex
- Insomnia, oversleeping, or waking much earlier than usual
- Loss of weight or appetite, or overeating and weight gain
- Feelings of hopelessness and pessimism
- Feelings of helplessness, guilt, and worthlessness
- Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
- Difficulty concentrating, making decisions, or remembering
- Restlessness, irritability or excessive crying
It is believed that clinical depression is most often caused by more than just one or two factors. Genetics, thinking patterns and life circumstances can all be contributing factors.
Screening and Diagnosis
A professional will take the time to gather a good deal of information about a person before determining that he or she is clinically depressed.
Depressive disorders make one feel exhausted, worthless, helpless, and hopeless. Such negative thoughts and feelings make some people feel like giving up. It is important to realize that these negative views are part of the depression and may not accurately reflect the situation. Negative thinking fades as treatment begins to take effect. In the meantime:
- Set realistic goals and assume a reasonable amount of responsibility.
- Break large tasks into small ones, set some priorities, and do what you can as you can.
- Try to be with other people and to confide in someone; it is usually better than being alone and secretive.
- Participate in activities that may make you feel better.
- Mild exercise, going to a movie, a ballgame, or participating in religious, social, or other activities may help.
- Expect your mood to improve gradually, not immediately. Feeling better takes time.
- It is advisable to postpone important decisions until the depression has lifted. Before deciding to make a significant transition–change jobs, get married or divorced–discuss it with others who know you well and have a more objective view of your situation.
- People rarely “snap out of” a depression. But they can feel a little better day-by-day.
- Remember, positive thinking will replace the negative thinking that is part of the depression and will disappear as your depression responds to treatment.
Let your family and friends help you.