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Dealing with Depression

This last week of Counseling Awareness Month focuses on depression, which was also the central theme for World Health Day earlier this month. Depression is widely reported as a common mental disorder that affects more than 300 million people globally, according to the World Health Organization. This illness is more than just feeling sad or a shift in moods, and if left untreated long-term, depression could have severe implications on one’s emotional and physical overall well-being.  

What is Depression?

Although depression is common, it’s a life-altering mood disorder that causes symptoms affecting your emotions. Also referred to as major depressive disorder or clinical depression, it affects how you think, behave and handle daily activities. In order to be diagnosed with depression, the symptoms must be present on a daily basis for a minimum of  two weeks, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

There are various types of depressive disorders which include Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dysthymia), Postpartum Depression and Psychotic Depression to name a few. An important thing to remember is that depression affects people in different ways, so everyone will not experience the same reaction to the varying symptoms.

What Causes Depression

While there isn’t one single factor that causes depression, research suggests that it’s caused by a variation of factors, including genetics, environmental, psychological and more. It can be triggered by a major life crisis, or co-occur due to other medical illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.

Depression is an illness that affects people at any any age. However, signs of depressive orders usually begin to show as early as the teenage years. NIMH states that the majority of chronic mood and anxiety disorders in adults originate as high levels of anxiety in children. As a result, children with high levels of anxiety are at a greater risk of having depression as an adult.

  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies or activities
  • Change in eating habits / weight
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Feeling irritated or restlessness
  • Feeling hopeless or pessimistic
  • Persistent sad, anxious, or ‘empty’ mood
  • Decreased energy
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts

Signs and Symptoms of Depression

Here is a list of symptoms that may indicate you have depression. Though this is not a comprehensive list, if you’re experiencing any of these signs for more than two weeks, you may want to strongly consider reaching out to a properly trained medical professional.

Effects of Depression on the Body

Depression not only affects how you feel, but can also disrupt normal bodily functions. It could negatively impact your immune system, leaving you vulnerable to develop infections, diseases and other health issues.

According to the American Heart Association, depression is reported in an estimated 1 in 10 of Americans ages 18 and older, at a figure as high as 33 % for heart attack patients. But, like most situations in life, all of this can be combated with a healthy lifestyle (clean eating, regular exercise, mental relaxation activities and more).

Treatments for Depression

The first step in seeking the best treatment for you is by checking with your local healthcare provider for recommendations on mental health professionals, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist. Through exams and other methods, they will be able to accurately determine your symptoms, plus rule out similar symptoms caused by any other health conditions.

After a depression diagnosis has been made, there are a variety of ways to treat this disorder, which include medications, psychotherapy,  and much more. To learn about more treatment options for depression visit NIMH .



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