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How do you know it’s depression?

Depression is a difficult subject for anyone. There is a reason no one wants to go through it: depression can be very challenging. It may be hard to shake the misperception that depression is a sign of weakness or a reason for shame. In reality, it is a serious illness. Millions of Americans struggle with depression. Left untreated it could lead to serious personal, family, financial, and health issues. The earlier the treatment is started, the more successful it is.

What is depression?

Depression is more than feeling sad from what life is throwing at us. Depression is a feeling of intense sadness, helplessness, hopelessness, or worthlessness that may last for many days to weeks with little relief. It can interfere with a person’s ability to work, eat, sleep, and enjoy life.

Depression can look different in women and men, and in people of different ages.

Depression in women:

  • Occurs two times more frequently than in men.
  • Compared to men, more likely to result in these symptoms: vocalized feelings of guilt, weight gain, oversleeping.
  • Can be caused by hormonal factors.

Depression in men:

  • Is less likely to show as vocalized feelings of guilt and hopelessness than in women.
  • Is more likely to show as anger, aggression, reckless behavior, and even substance abuse.
  • Carries a risk for suicide that is two times higher than depression in women.

Depression in young people:

  • Makes them appear sad or irritable, or even hostile or short tempered.
  • May cause them to experience unexplained aches and pains.
  • Can lead to problems at home, school, and to drug abuse.
  • Can lead to homicidal violence or suicide.

Depression in older people:

  • Can be caused by loss of independence.
  • Can be caused by the loss of a loved one.
  • Can show as physical signs.
  • Is typically associated with poor health.


What causes depression?

  • Health problems or chronic pain
  • Lack of social support
  • Being lonely
  • Family history
  • Relationship problems
  • Stress
  • Childhood traumatic experience
  • Bereavement
  • Loss of independence


What are the signs and symptoms of depression?

  • Irritability
  • Change in appetite
  • Loss of energy or feeling sluggish and physically drained
  • Loss of interest in daily activities or hobbies
  • Continual feeling of sadness, anxiousness
  • Feelings of hopelessness, guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Trouble thinking, remember things, concentrating, and making decisions
  • Feelings of agitation, anxiety, or restlessness
  • Experiencing aches or pains, headaches, and cramps
  • Having thoughts of death or suicide


How can you treat depression?

  • Ask for help and support – The more support that you have the better, so reach out to others.
  • Make lifestyle changes – Managing stress in a healthier way, getting regular physical activity, and even eating a healthy balanced diet can have a big impact on depression.
  • Seek professional help – There are many different treatments for depression. These include therapy, medication, and alternative treatments.