With the demands of work, finances, and family on the rise, it's no wonder our stress levels are increasing, as well. While it is normal to feel sad, anxious, or irritable at times, it becomes a problem when these feelings last for longer than a few weeks at a time. If you have been experiencing these feelings and have lost interest in everyday activities or hobbies, you may have depression.
Depression is an illness that affects your ability to function and cope with life. The typical symptoms are:
- Feeling sad or "empty"
- Feeling hopeless, irritable, anxious, or angry
- Loss of interest in work, family, or once-pleasurable activities, including sex
- Feeling very tired
- Not being able to concentrate or remember details
- Not being able to sleep, or sleeping too much
- Overeating, or not wanting to eat at all
- Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
- Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems
- Inability to meet the responsibilities of work, caring for family, or other important activities.
There are many factors that can cause and contribute to depression, all of which are real and treatable. The first step to getting the right treatment plan is to reach out to your doctor or a mental health professional. By getting properly evaluated, other health conditions can be ruled out and you can receive the correct diagnosis. Although your individual plan is up to you and your doctor, many people find that therapy, medication, or a combination of both are the best forms of treatment for depression.
Therapy is an excellent option for the treatment of depression. Mental health therapists are trained in working with people with depression, and they teach you new ways of thinking and behaving. They also teach you specific coping skills to empower you during times of anxiety or sadness. Therapists can help you recognize other stressors in your life that may be contributing to your depression, as well as ways to help reduce them.
Medications that treat depressions, referred to as antidepressants, are another option. Antidepressants take several weeks to work and may include side-effects, however, they can greatly reduce symptoms of depression and help you feel like your old self again. These medications are specifically designed to repair chemical imbalances in the brain that contribute to depression and its symptoms. Depression is a common illness that is completely treatable. By noticing the signs and reaching out for help, you are getting one step closer to your normal way of life and to feeling better.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, get help immediately:
- Call 911 for emergency services
- Go to the nearest hospital emergency room
- Call the toll-free, 24-hour hotline of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255); TTY: 1-800-799-4TTY (1-800-799-4889)