Depression is not a feeling, but rather an actual illness that affects approximately 10 percent of all adults, as estimated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The condition can affect anyone of any age, although it seems to be more prevalent among certain groups, such as women, divorced individuals, working age individuals over age 45 and people in certain geographical locations. Left untreated, depression can lead to physical health problems, such as stroke, and it can have a negative effect on existing health conditions like diabetes.
Depression is more than just a feeling of overwhelming sadness or grief. Instead, the condition is diagnosed when sadness, loss of interest in relationships and activities and even certain physical symptoms persist chronically for long periods of time. Often, individuals experiencing depression have no explanation for their feelings, nor are they capable of ‘coming around’ or ‘getting a grip’ on reality.
The severity of depression varies from person to person, as do the types of symptoms. Examples of common signs of depression include:
sadness, emptiness, trouble concentrating or focusing, suicidal feelings or thoughts, chronic fatigue, changes in appetite, sleeping disorders.
Often, depression is the result of an event or other health condition that caused a chemical change within the brain tissues. Some people are genetically pre-disposed to develop depression, while others develop the condition due to certain stressful activities or responsibilities. Major life events, such as a death or divorce, can cause depression, as can certain lifestyle habits, such as drinking alcohol or taking certain drugs and medications.
If you suspect that you may have the symptoms of depression, it is important to seek help immediately. Psychiatric therapies and certain anti-depressant medications may be effective for helping you manage your symptoms. Furthermore, certain dietary and lifestyle changes, such as exercise and better sleep habits, may prevent depression and help you find relief from symptoms.
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