Did you know that depression affects more than 15 million Americans every year? Despite the prevalence of depression, we still find it a difficult subject to approach, and many of us struggle to understand exactly what depression is and how it impacts an individual. If you’re looking for more information about depression, here’s everything you need to know.
What causes depression and how do I know if I’m depressed?
Depression can be caused by many different things. Often, life events, such as losing a loved one, becoming unemployed or being diagnosed with an illness, can trigger prolonged periods of feeling low. In other cases, there is no clear cause. If you have family history of mental illness, this can put you at greater risk of developing depression.
It can be very difficult to understand depression if you’ve never had it before. There is sometimes an assumption that depression is something you can get over or shake off, but that’s not the case. We all have days when we don’t feel our best, we’re emotional, or we feel a bit down. This is not depression. Depression is feeling like this for weeks, months or even years. We often throw the adjective depressed around, but the reality is that people who are depressed may not even see the point in getting up each morning. Depression can make you feel isolated, anxious and irritable. It can also affect the way you behave around others and cause you to experience physical symptoms, such as disturbed sleep and weight gain or loss.
When to seek help
There’s no need to rush to see a doctor if you wake up feeling sad one day, but it is important to recognize the importance of seeking help with depression if you suffer from symptoms on a regular basis or you’ve been struggling for a while. It can be hard to accept that you have depression, but it’s a very common illness, and there are solutions and therapies available. Opening up and asking for help is often the first step on the road to recovery. In mild cases, self-help techniques such as exercise, meditation and going to self-help groups can be incredibly beneficial, but there are more intensive treatments available for more severe cases. Talking therapies are often combined with medication for those with moderate to severe depression. As well as seeing your doctor for help, you may also find it beneficial to contact charities that provide mental health support.
For many of us, it’s difficult to talk about depression because it’s hard to understand the effects it has on your body and mind. If you are worried about your mental health and you think you may have depression, don’t be afraid to seek help and to talk to people close to you. There is help and support available, and the sooner you see a doctor, the sooner you can start taking steps in the right direction. Depression is nothing to be ashamed about. It is a condition that will affect between 10 and 20 percent of the population in their lifetime.