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What Is Depression?

Monday, March 16, 2015 - 12:31 pm
What Is Depression?

What Is Depression?

We’ve all felt “sad” or “blue” at one time or another. Rare bouts of depression that last only a few days are usually not a problem for most people.  But, clinical depression – the type that people seek help for - is a different story.  Major depressive episodes are the hallmark features of this type of depression.  These episodes are characterized by extreme symptoms that interfere with daily functioning.

What Are the Symptoms of Depression?

Clinical depression, or a major depressive episode, can include any of the following symptoms:

  • feeling sad most of the time

  • feeling tired or having low energy most of the day

  • loss of interest in activities once enjoyed

  • changes in appetite, weight loss or weight gain

  • trouble concentrating

  • difficulty sleeping

  • feeling worthless

  • feeling helpless or hopeless

  • feeling anxious or agitated

  • unexplained headaches, stomach problems or muscular/skeletal pain

  • thoughts of death or suicide

Treatment for Depression

Depression is a treatable disorder.  Studies show that medications and/or psychotherapy (talk therapy) are effective for most individuals.  But, before treatment begins, other medical causes for your symptoms should be ruled out.

As the name implies, antidepressants are used for the treatment of depression.  It is believed that the brain contains several hundred different types of chemical messengers that act as communication agents between different brain cells. These neurotransmitters are important in modulating a variety of body functions and feelings, including our mood.  Antidepressants are believed to affect certain chemical messengers in the brain, resulting in less depression.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one form of psychotherapy that has been shown to be successful in treating major depression.  CBT combines the fundamental concepts of behavioral therapy and cognitive therapy.  The term “cognitive” refers to our thought process and reflects what we think, believe and perceive.  Put together, CBT focuses on our behaviors and thoughts and how they are contributing to our current symptoms and difficulties.

Depression is a serious illness.  If you are experiencing the signs and symptoms of a major depressive episode, it is important to see your doctor as soon as possible.  Thoughts of suicide are a medical emergency.  If you or someone you know is suicidal, talk to someone right away. You can call 911, go to your nearest emergency room, or call the following suicide prevention lines:  1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) or 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).

Please contact Sheryl Ankrom, LCPC, at 1-800-461-9533, Ext. 16 to learn more about effective treatment options for depression.