This debilitating psychological disorder is often expressed as persistent unhappiness, hopelessness or a loss of interest in usual activities.
More than 20 Million people in the United States have Depression.
What you need to know about Depression
Depression is a mental disorder that is marked by a sad, empty, hopeless, or helpless mood that is present almost every day and lasts most of the day for at least two weeks. This condition may happen in a single episode or be a recurrent condition. Individuals experiencing this may be diagnosed with major depression (which can be mild, moderate, or severe) or persistent depression.
Depression is more than just feeling down or “blue” for a few days. It’s a serious medical illness that involves the brain. Often expressed as persistent unhappiness, hopelessness or a loss of interest in usual activities, depression can be a debilitating psychological disorder that leads to difficulty concentrating, insomnia, oversleeping, fatigue, anxiety, and an overwhelming isolation. And these feelings don’t just go away. They persist and interfere with everyday life.
More than 20 million people in the U.S. have depression, and data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) shows that 11.4% of those between the ages of 12-17 had at least one major depressive episode in the past year.
Depression usually starts between the ages of 15 and 30, and it is much more common in women, according to mentalhealth.gov. Women can also suffer from postpartum depression after the birth of a baby, and some people experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD) in the winter months. Depression is also part of bipolar disorder.
Depression symptoms can include:
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
- Change in weight
- Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping
- Energy loss
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Thoughts of death or suicide
What Causes depression?
Depression & Substance Abuse
The good news is that there are many evidence-based medications and therapies that are effective for treating depression. Depression is usually best managed by a combination of medication, behavioral therapy, and family or peer support, all working together to help improve coping skills, manage symptoms, and improve daily functioning.
Each person reacts differently to the various depression medications on the market, so the prescribing healthcare professional may need to try different doses and types of medication before landing on the most effective approach with the least amount of side-effects. Warning: This process may require patience!
Healthcare professionals may also recommend behavioral therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), or other forms of psychotherapy as standalone treatments or in combination with medications. This kind of treatment helps to enhance resiliency skills and develop behaviors and routines that can protect from experiencing frequent, severe, or prolonged symptoms. Peer and family support can also help patients stay focused on reaching their treatment and recovery goals.
Treatment decisions should be made based on several factors and should always take into account the individual’s health goals and ambitions. It is important to talk to your healthcare providers about other types of treatment, such as complementary medicine, as well as programs that can provide additional support. Good self-care is also important to the treatment process, including a healthy diet, exercise, sleep, and abstinence from illicit drugs. Understanding how treatment works will help you to play an active role in your recovery.
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