Understanding Depression

About depression

Depression is a mental illness that affects an estimated 121 million people worldwide. It is an illness that can affect any demographic or race. Depression is usually treated using prescription drugs, however, therapy can also be used in the treatment process. Although people experiencing depression may feel reluctant to seek help, it is among the leading causes of disability worldwide. The National Institute of Mental Health predicts that at any given moment in time, 10% of the American population is suffering from depression.

What is depression?

Although it is perfectly normal to feel blue here and there, it is important to be able to distinguish occasional unhappiness with a more serious mood disorder. Although "depression" is often used as a blanket term, there are different types of depression including bipolar disorder, post-partum depression and uni-polar depression, which is the most common type of depression.

What are the symptoms?

It is important to keep in mind that not everyone exhibits the same symptoms when experiencing depression. If you suspect that you or someone you know is battling with depression, you should always consult with a family doctor. However, some common warning signs include:

  • Overwhelming feelings of sadness that are not necessarily triggered by a traumatic event
  • Loss of interest or pleasure resulting from regular hobbies
  • Extreme changes in eating habits and sleeping patterns
  • Feelings of anxiety which are accompanied by thoughts of suicide or self harm
  • Difficulties concentrating or problems with short term memory loss

Treating depression

Fortunately, there are many different treatment options for people suffering from depression. If you suspect that you or someone close to you is suffering from depression, the first step is to visit a physician. They will usually conduct some sort of depression test to determine whether or not the symptoms are present. Based on the results, the physician will determine the best course of action for treating the depression. Drug treatment is a popular form of therapy with certain drugs such as lithium reducing the frequency of depressive episodes by 80% in some cases. However, other forms of treatment include individual or group therapy, where the patient is encouraged to discuss their moods with a healthcare professional present.