Do you feel very tired, helpless and hopeless? Are you sad most of the time and take no pleasure in your family, friends, or hobbies? Everyone feels sad sometimes, but these feelings usually pass after a few days. When you have depression, you have trouble with daily life for weeks at a time. Depression is not a feeling you can “snap out” of. It is a real illness that needs treatment.
Learn more below, or download a printable PDF.
What Causes Depression?
Several factors, or a combination of factors, may contribute to depression. People with a family history of depression may be more likely to develop it than those whose families do not have the illness. People with depression have different brain chemistry than those without the illness. Stress, such as the loss of a loved one, a difficult relationship, or any stressful situation may trigger depression.
What Are the Signs of Depression?
Different people have different symptoms. Some symptoms of depression include:
- Feeling sad, “empty,” feeling hopeless, tired, irritable, anxious, or guilty
- Loss of interest in favorite activities
- Not being able to concentrate or remember details
- Not being able to sleep, or sleeping too much
- Overeating, or not wanting to eat at all
- Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
- Aches, pains, headaches, or digestive problems
Depression Affects Different People in Different Ways
Women experience depression more often than men. Biological, life cycle and hormonal factors that are unique to women may be linked to women’s higher depression rate. Women with depression typically have symptoms of sadness, worthlessness and guilt.
Men with depression are more likely to be very tired, irritable and sometimes even angry. They may lose interest in work or activities they once enjoyed and have sleep problems.
Older adults with depression may have less obvious symptoms, or they may be less likely to admit to feelings of sadness or grief. Certain medications also can have side effects that contribute to depression.
Children with depression may pretend to be sick, refuse to go to school, cling to a parent, or worry that a parent may die. Older children or teens may get into trouble at school and be irritable.
The first step to getting the right treatment is to visit a doctor or mental health professional. She can do an exam or lab tests to rule out other conditions that may have the same symptoms as depression and determine whether certain medications you are taking may be affecting your mood.
Medications called antidepressants can work well to treat depression. They can take several weeks to work and some may cause side effects. You should talk to your doctor about whether medication is right for you.
Psychotherapy can also help treat depression by teaching new ways of thinking and behaving and changing habits that may be contributing to the depression.
The bottom line is that there IS help in your community. But you have to reach out and ask for help.
Helping Someone that has Depression
If you know someone who has depression, first help him or her see a doctor or mental health professional.
- Offer support, understanding, patience and encouragement
- Talk to him or her and listen carefully
- Never ignore comments about suicide. Report them to your loved one’s therapist or doctor
- Invite him or her out for walks and other activities
- Remind him or her that with time and treatment, the depression will lift
If you know someone who has depression, first help him or her see a doctor or mental health professional. If you or someone you know is in crisis, get help quickly. In East Texas, Burke has a 24-Hour Crisis hotline: 1-800-392-8343.