During any six month period, nine million American adults suffer from depressive illness. Depression causes emotional suffering not only for those with depression, but also for those who care about them.
Clinical depression is intense and longer lasting than “the downs” you feel from time to time. Clinical depression can be chronic with mild to severe symptoms. A seriously depressed person can cross the line into psychosis or become suicidal if not treated.
Depression is treatable. Counseling can be helpful in assisting you through hard times like a broken relationship, death of a friend, or loss of a job. It may also help to make lifestyle changes such as increasing exercise, reducing or eliminating caffeine and nicotine use and maintaining a healthful diet.
In more serious depressions, medications called antidepressants can be extremely helpful in relieving the symptoms of depression. Most professionals agree that counseling is important, along with medication, to help you put your life back together.
A depressive illness is not a sign of weakness or something that can be wished away. Without treatment, symptoms can last for weeks, months, or even years.
Some of the most common symptoms of depression are:
- Uncontrollable crying or irritability
- Ongoing sad, nervous, or empty mood
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in normally interesting, pleasurable activities
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Increase or decrease in appetite
- Ongoing thoughts of death or suicide
- Difficulty concentrating
- Decreased energy or fatigue
- Physical problems that aren’t responding to treatment such as headaches, nausea, or chronic pain