Nearly 7.1% of adults in the U.S. have experienced depression in their lifetime, with women being affected at twice the rate of men. In fact, depression is now the leading cause of disability worldwide. However, despite its prevalence, depression is still commonly misunderstood.

Here is what you need to know about depression and its side effects.

 

Defining Depression

Almost everyone has felt depressed in their lifetime, whether it takes the form of the loss of a loved one, a career setback, or a unique personal challenge. Feeling depressed, however, is not the same as experiencing depression.

Depression is extreme sadness or unhappiness that deepens over long periods of time and interferes with daily activities. If you experience negative feelings that persist for weeks or months, you may be suffering from depression.

 

Types of Depression

Depression comes in a variety of forms, including:

  • Major Depressive Disorder/Clinical Depression- extreme and persistent feelings of sadness and emptiness over time with sporadic periods of normality in-between.
  • Persistent Depressive Disorder – long-term depression that is milder than clinical depression but lasts longer and can make a person “forget” what it feels like to be happy.
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder – a form of depression that is related to the seasons, typically getting worse during fall and winter months when there is less sunlight.
  • Postpartum Depression – depression that sets in after giving birth.

 

Symptoms of Depression

While there are different forms that depression can take, the symptoms of depression are fairly universal. Those experiencing any form of depression may experience:

  • Feeling down most of the day, nearly every day
  • Losing interest in activities once enjoyed
  • Having low energy
  • Having problems sleeping
  • Experiencing changes in appetite or weight
  • Feeling sluggish or agitated
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty
  • Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide

 

Treatment for Depression

When suffering from depression, it is important to remember that there are treatment options available as well as lifestyle changes that can help quell negative feelings. There are traditional depression treatment methods such as medications and therapy. Lifestyle changes effective for combating depression include meditation, changes in diet, avoidance of alcohol, exercise and rest.

 

Tying it all together

If you believe that you or someone you love may be experiencing depression, talk with your doctor today about possible treatment plans. The first step to feeling better is to admit that you need help, which, when it comes to depression, is necessary. Remember, feeling down is normal, but depression is a serious medical condition that needs to be addressed by qualified health professionals.

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