PHOT0014.JPGWhat is depression?

Depression is a psychological condition that affects your feelings, behaviors, and thoughts. Although most of us feel sad one time or another, a clinically diagnosed depression is a mood disorder marked by persistent sadness, discouragement, and loss of interest in usual activities.


Who is likely to develop depression?

Depression affects men and women of all ages, and ethnic and racial backgrounds. Although the most common time of onset is between the ages of 30 and 40, teenagers can also experience depression.


What are the symptoms of depression?

  • Persistent sadness
  • Irritable mood
  • Feeling of worthlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities you usually enjoy
  • Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping
  • Changes in appetite: increase or decrease
  • Loss of energy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Thoughts of death or suicide


What are the causes of depression?

  • Social environment: Conflicts with peer groups, breakup of a relationship
  • Family environment: Unhappy family atmosphere, domestic violence
  • Life events: Death of a family member, friend, or pet; moving, changing schools, other stressful experiences
  • Medical conditions: Hormone imbalance, physical illness
  • Genetics: Certain genetic makeup can increase an individual’s susceptibility to developing depression.


How do I know if I am depressed or just sad?

It is normal to feel depressed or sad sometimes; most of us do. However, if you experience most of the above symptoms for several weeks, you could have depression. It may be difficult to see the changes in yourself when you are depressed, but usually people around you can notice the difference. Similarly, if you notice someone having a big change in mood and behavior, talk to that person and encourage him or her to seek professional help.


What should I do if I am always depressed?

If you think you have depression, it is very important that you talk to a health professional and receive proper diagnosis and treatment. Depression is more common than you may think, and it is a very treatable condition. If you have trouble finding a healthcare provider, talk to an adult you feel comfortable with first. You can talk to your parents, a teacher, coach, school counselor, or spiritual leader. It is also helpful to talk to your friends about your feelings and concerns. But for medical issues like depression, adults may be more resourceful about how to find professional help.


How is depression treated?

Counseling or Psychotherapy:

Counseling or psychotherapy includes talking about your feelings, thoughts, and problems with a counselor in a confidential setting. People with depression tend to see life in an unrealistic way. For example, you may feel that you are not good enough or that no one understands you. A counselor can help you feel that you are not alone. When you talk about your feelings with a counselor, you will learn to see things differently and to understand yourself better. The counselor can also help you find ways to deal with your problems.


If you feel that counseling is not enough, there are different prescription medications available to treat depression. Many people find antidepressant medications very effective. Starting on such medicine does not mean that you have to take it for the rest of your life. When your condition improves, your doctor may decrease the dose or stop your medication. However, you should always talk with your healthcare provider before making any changes to your medicine.


Where can I find reliable information on depression?