It is natural to feel down from time to time. But depression interferes with daily life and may last two weeks or more, or it may go away but come back again. It may have one or more causes, such as a chemical imbalance in the brain, genetics or a family history of depression, or life changes such as a loved one’s death. Certain illnesses, medications, or use of drugs – including too much alcohol – may come into play.
Symptoms of depression often go ignored. The person may have several symptoms and not realize they are all part of a treatable illness. Common symptoms include sadness, anxiety or irritability; loss of interest in everyday activities; feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness or guilt; trouble concentrating; a change in sleeping habits or appetite; feeling tired all the time; and having aches, pains, and headaches. Thoughts of suicide can also occur.
The most important thing anyone can do for a depressed person is help them get appropriate diagnosis and treatment. Start with an appointment with a doctor and ask to be examined for depression. Sometimes a physical illness can cause depression-like symptoms, so it is best to see a doctor first. Next, seek the care of a licensed mental health professional – with training and experience in helping people recover from depression – for further evaluation and treatment.
Learn all you can about depression, the symptoms and treatment. Offer emotional support – this involves understanding, patience and encouragement. It may take time for him/her to “snap out of it.” Eventually, up to 90% of people with serious depression can be treated successfully with “talk” therapy, antidepressant medications, alternative treatments, or a combination of these.
If you or a loved one has symptoms of depression, don’t ignore them – seek medical help. Iroquois Center has several educational materials about depression. Stop by our office at 610 East Grant in Greensburg, or call 620-723-2272 or toll-free, 1-888-877-0376 for more information.