Depression: an unrecognized scourge

Depression: an unrecognized scourge


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Depression is a serious mental illness that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. It affects how you feel, think, and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. You may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and sometimes you may feel as if life isn't worth living.

More than just a bout of the blues, depression isn't a weakness and you can't simply "snap out" of it. Depression may require long-term treatment. But don't get discouraged. Most people with depression feel better with medication, therapy, or both.

What is depression?
Depression is more than just feeling sad or going through a rough patch. It's a serious mental illness that causes persistent feelings of sadness and loss of interest. Depression affects how you feel, think, and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems.

You may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and sometimes you may feel as if life isn't worth living. An estimated 16 million adults in the United States had at least one major depressive episode in 2015.1

Depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States. Current research shows that depression is caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors.

What are the signs and symptoms of depression?

Depression symptoms can vary from mild to severe and can include:

• Feeling sad or down
• Loss of interest or pleasure in activities you once enjoyed
• Changes in appetite — weight loss or gain
• Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
• Loss of energy or increased fatigue
• Feeling worthless or guilty
• Difficulty thinking, concentrating, or making decisions
• Thoughts of death or suicide

Depression symptoms in children and teens

Depression is not a normal part of growing up, and it can be very hard to tell the difference between normal teenage moodiness and depression. Depression in children and teens can look different from depression in adults. In addition to the signs and symptoms above, children and teens with depression may:

• Withdraw from friends and activities
• Have problems with school
• Be irritable, grouchy, or excessively cranky
• Become easily frustrated or angry
• Blame themselves for things that go wrong
• Have persistent aches or pains, headaches, or stomachaches with no apparent physical cause
• Often talk about or threaten suicide
• Engage in risky or destructive behaviors

Signs and symptoms in older adults

Depression is not a normal part of aging, and it can be difficult to tell the difference between normal aging and depression. Depression in older adults may look different from depression in younger adults. In addition to the signs and symptoms above, older adults with depression may:

• Have physical symptoms, such as fatigue, pain, or digestive problems, that don't get better with treatment
• Have memory problems or trouble concentrating
• Be irritable or grouchy
• Appear to be more forgetful
• Sleep more or less than usual
• withdraw from friends and activities

What are the different types of depression?

Major depression is the most common type of depression. Major depression can cause a variety of symptoms, and it may last for weeks, months, or even years.
Persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia) is a less severe form of depression that may last for years. With persistent depressive disorder, you may have episodes of major depression along with periods of less severe symptoms, but your symptoms are never completely gone.
Bipolar disorder is a type of depression that involves mood swings. People with bipolar disorder have periods of high energy (mania) and low energy (depression).
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that usually happens during the winter, when there is less natural sunlight. SAD may go away during the spring and summer.
Psychotic depression is a rare but severe form of depression that occurs when a person has depression along with some form of psychosis, such as delusions or hallucinations.
What are the complications of depression? Depression can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. You may have trouble maintaining relationships, keeping a job, or taking care of yourself. Depression can also lead to substance abuse, eating disorders, and suicide.
Depression is a serious mental illness, and it should be treated as such. If you or someone you know is showing signs of depression, don't hesitate to reach out for help.

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