October is National Depression Awareness Month, which is a month-long campaign in the United States to inform and engage health professionals and the general public about depression and its risk factors. This October, become familiar with effective coping mechanisms for depression, as well as the risk factors and warning signs to look out for.
Facts about Depression
- Depression is the most common mental disorder with more than 3 million cases per year in the United States
- Depression is treatable by a medical professional. A combination of therapy and antidepressant medication can help ensure recovery.
- Depression is a medium-term condition, usually resolving within months.
What is depression?
Everyone can feel “blue” on occasion. Whether it is the result of the death of a loved one, the loss of a job or the ending of a relationship; feelings of sadness or grief in response to these situations is perfectly normal. Depression, however, is more than just sadness.
If a person’s feelings of sadness last for more than two weeks, and if these feelings interfere with daily life activities, clinical depression may be the reason.
Symptoms of depression can vary from mild to severe but normally include:
- Changes in appetite, such as eating too much or too little
- Sleeping too much or too little (insomnia)
- Persistent loss of interest and pleasure in daily life
- Lack of energy
- Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
How you can help yourself
If you feel like you may be suffering from depression, it is important that you try to help yourself. Make an appointment with your doctor or mental health professional as soon as you can. Depression is a real illness and carries with it a high cost in terms of relationship problems, family suffering and lost work productivity.
The good news is that depression is highly treatable. While you may not be able to simply “snap out of it”, most people with depression feel better with medication and psychotherapy. There are even some simple, cost-effective things you can do in everyday life to help combat depression, such as socializing more or exercising.
“Simply put, people with depression who do not seek help suffer needlessly. Unexpressed feelings and concerns accompanied by a sense of isolation can worsen a depression; therefore, the importance of getting appropriate help cannot be overemphasized.” – American Psychological Association
When to get Emergency Help
If you think you may hurt yourself or attempt suicide, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately. If you know a loved one who is in danger of suicide or has made a suicide attempt, make sure someone stays with that person. Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately. Or, if you think you can do so safely, take the person to the nearest hospital emergency room.
Depression is real and can be distinguished from normal feelings of sadness by its duration of time and the severity of its symptoms. It is the most common mental disorder, with more than 3 million US cases per year, so if you feel like you may be experiencing depression, you are not alone.
Depression is highly treatable but also carries with it a high cost if left untreated, so seeking help from your doctor or mental health professional as soon as you can is very important. If you or someone you know is in danger of committing suicide, please call 911 immediately.