Depression is not something you can just snap out of or get over. It is a real medical condition. The first step is to understand facts about depression and to realize that you are not alone. Approximately one in six Americans experiences an episode of depression at some time during his/her adult life. Many who are depressed are not seeking treatment or getting the help they need.
Often, but not always, depression runs in families, and the course it takes is quite variable. Some people may only experience one significant depressive episode in their entire life, while others suffer with chronic depression that requires lifetime treatment.
The symptoms of depression are related to complex biochemical changes in the brain. Research evidence suggests that chemical messengers such as serotonin and norepinephrine lose their normal balance in areas of the brain that govern mood, pleasure, sleep, appetite and energy.
If these symptoms sound like you, you may be depressed:
- Feelings of sadness, loneliness, hopelessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities
- Changes in weight or appetite
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Feeling guilty or worthless
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering things or making decisions
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Restlessness or irritability
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Headaches, joint pain, back/shoulder pain, stomach pain/indigestion