Knowing the Signs of Depression
The recent death of celebrity fashion designer L’Wren Scott has cast a spotlight once again on depression, and sparked a flurry of conversation about the signs close friends might have missed.
The clinical definition for depression describes the illness as “a constant feeling of sadness and lack of interest.” It can influence a person’s physical and emotional behavior. Depression can impair sleep, concentration, appetite and affect a person’s ability to maintain inter-personal relationships.
According to the National Institute of Health, this illness affects more than 20 million Americans, often starting early in teen years and it can continue into late adulthood, with women being more at risk than men.
There are many medical names for depression including clinical depression, postpartum depression, major depression, and at one time it was known as melancholia. The illness is also often linked to bipolar disorder. Depression can strike young, old, the famous and the not so famous. Our 16th president Lincoln was said to have “suffered from melancholy” most of his life.
Today, there are numerous medicinal treatments for depression that have helped in controlling the symptoms and have provided sufferers with a way to live more normal lives. Experts suggest there is no one-size-fits-all in the treatment of depression. It can vary and involve a combination of “antidepressants and psychological therapies.” But there are also other options now, which could include “attending a self-help group, making changes to your diet, improving your sleep habits and learning relaxation techniques. Research on acupuncture, herbal medicines (including St. John’s Wort), and aromatherapy suggests that these can help to reduce anxiety and to alleviate mild depression.”
For all of the progress we have made in identifying the illness and in providing treatment, the fact still remains that depression can often go unrecognized and, if not treated immediately, can lead to other chronic disease or destructive behavior such as smoking, alcoholism and even suicide. But how can you tell if you or someone you know is suffering from depression? Experts agree the warning signs include:
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
- Change in weight
- Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping
- Energy loss
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Thoughts of death or suicide
The National Institute of Mental Health lists depression among the leading risk factors in more than 90% of people who die by suicide. The other factors include mental disorder, a substance-abuse or combinations of these risk factors.
How can you help someone with depression?
Health Magazine reminds us that we should first understand that depression is a medical condition and we should:
- Support the individual in seeking “medical care and psychosocial support”
- Let them know that you and others care, listen and make sure they make it to their treatment
- Call or visit them, invite them to take part in activities
- Offer positive reinforcement
- Read about depression, understand what it is and how it impacts individuals – books shed light on the types of treatment available
- Find local support services
- Encourage the person to see a doctor or psychologist
- Pay attention for signs that things may be taking a more dangerous turn
- Words are important, choose them well when talking to someone who is depressed, make sure that what you say conveys care, love, warmth, sincerity, understanding and empathy
If you are on a prescribed medication for depression, or any other condition, and you need help affording your prescription, download a free Watertree Health Prescription discount card or request your card be mailed to you. It provides significant discounts on almost all recommended medications (brand and generic). Most experts agree, taking your medicines as prescribed improves overall health and wellbeing and lowers cost of health care for everyone.
Instructions and Disclaimer: The content on this website is designed for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses. Always consult your health care provider with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your health.
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