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Depression

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Depression is a "whole-body" illness, involving your body, mood, and thoughts. It affects the way you eat and sleep, the way you feel about yourself, and the way you think about things. A depressive disorder is not the same as a passing blue mood. It is not a sign of personal weakness or a condition that can be willed or wished away. People with a depressive illness cannot merely "pull themselves together" and get better. Without treatment, symptoms can last for weeks, months, or years. Appropriate treatment, however, can help most people who suffer from depression. 

The symptoms of depression may vary from person to person, and also depend on the severity of the depression. Depression causes changes in thinking, feeling, behavior, and physical well-being.

  • Changes in Thinking - You may experience problems with concentration and decision making. Some people report difficulty with short term memory, forgetting things all the time. Negative thoughts and thinking are characteristic of depression. Pessimism, poor self-esteem, excessive guilt, and self-criticism are all common. Some people have self-destructive thoughts during a more serious depression.
  • Changes in Feelings - You may feel sad for no reason at all. Some people report that they no longer enjoy activities that they once found pleasurable. You might lack motivation, and become more apathetic. You might feel "slowed down" and tired all the time. Sometimes irritability is a problem, and you may have more difficulty controlling your temper. In the extreme, depression is characterized by feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.
  • Changes in Behavior - Changes in behavior during depression are reflective of the negative emotions being experienced. You might act more apathetic, because that's how you feel. Some people do not feel comfortable with other people, so social withdrawal is common. You may experience a dramatic change in appetite, either eating more or less. Because of the chronic sadness, excessive crying is common. Some people complain about everything, and act out their anger with temper outbursts. Sexual desire may disappear, resulting in lack of sexual activity. In the extreme, people may neglect their personal appearance, even neglecting basic hygiene. Needless to say, someone who is this depressed does not do very much, so work productivity and household responsibilities suffer. Some people even have trouble getting out of bed.
  • Changes in Physical Well-being - We already talked about the negative emotional feelings experienced during depression, but these are coupled with negative physical emotions as well. Chronic fatigue, despite spending more time sleeping, is common. Some people can't sleep, or don't sleep soundly. These individuals lay awake for hours, or awaken many times during the night, and stare at the ceiling. Others sleep many hours, even most of the day, although they still feel tired. Many people lose their appetite, feel slowed down by depression, and complain of many aches and pains. Others are restless, and can't sit still.

Now imagine these symptoms lasting for weeks or even months. Imagine feeling this way almost all of the time. Depression is present if you experience many of these symptoms for at least several weeks. Of course, it's not a good idea to diagnose yourself. If you think that you might be depressed, see a psychologist as soon as possible. A psychologist can assess whether you are depressed, or just under a lot of stress and feeling sad. Remember, depression is treatable. Instead of worrying about whether you are depressed, do something about it. Even if you don't feel like it right now. 

Depression is one of the most common psychological problems, affecting nearly everyone through either personal experience or through depression in a family member. Each year over 17 million American adults experience a period of clinical depression. The cost in human suffering cannot be estimated. Depression can interfere with normal functioning, and frequently causes problems with work, social and family adjustment. It causes pain and suffering not only to those who have a disorder, but also to those who care about them. Serious depression can destroy family life as well as the life of the depressed person. 

Impact of Depression:

  • Causes tremendous emotional pain
  • Disrupts the lives of millions of people
  • Adversely affects the lives of families and friends
  • Reduces work productivity and absenteeism
  • Has a significant negative impact on the economy, costing an estimated $44 billion a year

Depression and bipolar depression are presented separately on this website because of the unique problems encountered with bipolar disorder. Individuals interested in information about bipolar disorder should also review the information on depression, as bipolar disorder usually includes depressive episodes as well.  Bipolar disorder was formerly called manic-depressive disorder. It is a type of depression, and it characterized by the presence of mood swings, especially "manic highs" that often result in high risk, self-damaging behavior.  Most individuals with bipolar disorder have both depressive episodes and hypomanic episodes.

Depression is a psychological condition that changes how you think and feel, and also affects your social behavior and sense of physical well-being. We have all felt sad at one time or another, but that is not depression. Sometimes we feel tired from working hard, or discouraged when faced with serious problems. This too, is not depression. These feelings usually pass within a few days or weeks, once we adjust to the stress. But, if these feelings linger, intensify, and begin to interfere with work, school or family responsibilities, it may be depression.

Depression can affect anyone. Once identified, most people diagnosed with depression are successfully treated. Unfortunately, depression is not always diagnosed, because many of the symptoms mimic physical illness, such as sleep and appetite disturbances. Recognizing depression is the first step in treating it.

Nearly two-thirds of depressed people do not get proper treatment:

  • The symptoms are not recognized as depression.
  • Depressed people are seen as weak or lazy.
  • Social stigma causes people to avoid needed treatment.
  • The symptoms are so disabling that the people affected cannot reach out for help. 
  • Many symptoms are misdiagnosed as physical problems
  • Individual symptoms are treated, rather than the underlying cause.

Clinical depression is a very common psychological problem, and most people never seek proper treatment, or seek treatment but they are misdiagnosed with physical illness. This is extremely unfortunate because, with proper treatment, nearly 80% of those with depression can make significant improvement in their mood and life adjustment.

Causes of Depression:

You may have heard people talk about chemical imbalances in the brain that occur in depression, suggesting that depression is a medical illness, without psychological causes. However, all psychological problems have some physical manifestations, and all physical illnesses have psychological components as well. In fact, the chemical imbalances that occur during depression usually disappear when you complete psychotherapy for depression, without taking any medications to correct the imbalance. This suggests that the imbalance is the body's physical response to psychological depression, rather than the other way around.

Some types of depression do seem to run in families, suggesting a biological vulnerability. This seems to be the case with bipolar depression and, to a lesser degree, severe major depression. Studies of families, in which members of each generation develop bipolar disorder, found that those with bipolar disorder have a somewhat different genetic makeup than those who are not diagnosed.

However, the reverse is not true. Not everybody with the genetic makeup that causes this vulnerability to bipolar disorder develops the disorder. Additional factors, such as stress and other psychological factors, are involved in its onset as well. Likewise, major depression also seems to occur, generation after generation, in some families, but not with a frequency that suggests clear biological causes. Additionally, it also occurs in people who have no family history of depression. So, while there may be some biological factors that contribute to depression, it is clearly a psychological disorder.

A variety of psychological factors appear to play a role in vulnerability to these severe forms of depression. Most likely, psychological factors are completely responsible for other forms of mild and moderate depression, especially reactive depression. Reactive depression is usually diagnosed as an adjustment disorder during treatment. 

People who have low self-esteem, who consistently view themselves and the world with pessimism, or who are readily overwhelmed by stress are more prone to depression. Psychologists often describe social learning factors as being significant in the development of depression, as well as other psychological problems.  People learn both adaptive and maladaptive ways of managing stress and responding to life problems within their family, educational, social and work environments. These environmental factors influence psychological development, and the way people try to resolve problems when they occur. Social learning factors also explain why psychological problems appear to occur more often in family members, from generation to generation.  If a child grows up in a pessimistic environment, in which discouragement is common and encouragement is rare, that child will develop a vulnerability to depression as well.

A serious loss, chronic illness, relationship problems, work stress, family crisis, financial setback, or any unwelcome life change can trigger a depressive episode. Very often, a combination of biological, psychological, and environmental factors are involved in the development of depressive disorders, as well as other psychological problems. When you feel depressed, and don't know where to turn, talk to someone who can help.... a psychologist.

Please see the source for more information:

 Source: http://www.psychologyinfo.com/depression/

Let's Talk About Depression
 
Approximately 4 out of 100 teenagers get seriously depressed each year.  Sure, everybody feels sad or blue now and then. But if you're sad most of the time, and it's giving you problems with:
 
  • your grades
  • your relationships with your family and friends
  • alcohol, drugs, or sex
  • controlling your behavior in other ways 

Then the problem may be - DEPRESSION  

The good news is.... you can get treatment and FEEL BETTER SOON
 
What is Depression?

Clinical Depression is a serious illness that can affect anybody, including teenagers. It can affect your thoughts, feelings, behavior, and overall health. 
 
Most people with depression can be helped with treatment.  But, most depressed people never get the help they need. And, when depression isn't treated, it can get worse, last longer, and prevent you from getting the most out of your life. Remember, you're only a teenager once.
 
How do I know when I'm depressed? 
How can I tell if a friend might be depressed?
 
First, there are two kinds of depression: The sad kind, called major depression, dysthymia or reactive depression, and manic-depression or bipolar illness, when feeling down and depressed alternates with being speeded-up and sometimes acting reckless. 
 
If you have had several of these symptoms, and they've lasted several weeks, or cause a big change in your routine, you should talk to someone who can help, like a psychologist, or your school counselor!
 
WHEN YOU'RE DEPRESSED..
You feel sad or cry a lot and it doesn't go away. 
You feel guilty for no real reason; you feel like you're no good; you've lost your confidence. 
Life seems meaningless or like nothing good is ever going to happen again.
You have a negative attitude a lot of the time, or it seems like you have no feelings.
You don't feel like doing a lot of the things you used to like-- like music, sports, being with friends, going out-- and you want to be left alone most of the time. 
It's hard to make up your mind. You forget lots of things, and it's hard to concentrate.
You get irritated often. Little things make you lose your temper; you overreact.
Your sleep pattern changes; you start sleeping a lot more or you have trouble falling asleep at night. Or you wake up really early most mornings and can't get back to sleep.
Your eating habits change; you've lost your appetite or you eat a lot more.
You feel restless and tired most of the time. 
You think about death, or feel like you're dying, or have thoughts about committing suicide
 
WHEN YOU'RE MANIC...
You feel high as a kite... like you're "on top of the world". 
You get unreal ideas about the great things you can do... things that you really can't do.
Thoughts go racing through your head; you jump from one subject to another, and you talk a lot.
You're a nonstop party, constantly running around.
You do too many wild or risky things: with driving, with spending money, with sex, etc.
You're so "up" that you don't need much sleep.
You're rebellious or irritable and can't get along at home or school, or with your friends
Talk to Someone About Depression
If you think you're depressed... TALK TO SOMEONE!
If you are concerned about depression in yourself or a friend,
 
TALK TO SOMEONE WHO CAN HELP. There are many people who you can talk to:
 
  • a psychologist
  • your school counselor
  • your parents, or a trusted family member
  • your family doctor
  • your clergy
  • a professional at a mental health center
Remember - Depression can affect people of any age, race, ethnic, or economic group
 
Treatment for Depression

LET'S GET SERIOUS HERE. 
 
Having depression doesn't mean that a person is weak, or a failure, or isn't really trying... it means they need TREATMENT.  
Most people with depression can be helped with COUNSELING, provided by a professional psychologist, and some are helped with Counseling and Medicine.
 
COUNSELING, or psychotherapy, means talking about feelings with a trained psychologist who can help you change the relationships, thoughts, or behaviors that are causing the depression. Think about it, you feel depressed because you think your life is bad. What if you're wrong? What if you're missing all the good things around you? What if your future holds a lot more promise than you think? When you're depressed, you're in a rut, and you can't see anything good. You need to talk to someone who can help you get out of that rut! Don't wait, ask your parents, or your school counselor for help today.
 
MEDICINE is used to treat depression that is severe or disabling. Antidepressant medications are not "uppers" and are not addictive. When depression is so bad that you can't focus on anything else, when it interferes with your life in an overwhelming way, medication might be necessary, in addition to counseling. But most often, counseling alone is sufficient.
With treatment, most depressed people start to feel better in just a few weeks.
 
So remember, when your problems seem too big and you're feeling low for too long,
 
                           YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
 
There's help out there and you CAN ask for help. And if you know someone who you think is depressed, YOU CAN HELP. Listen and encourage your friend to ask a parent or a responsible adult about treatment. If you friend doesn't ask for help soon, talk to an adult you trust and respect-- especially if your friend mentions suicide.  Your friend's life is more important than keeping a secret!
 
What About Suicide?
Most people who are depressed do not commit suicide. But depression increases the risk for suicide or suicide attempts. It is NOT true that people who talk about suicide do not attempt it. Suicidal thoughts, remarks, or attempts are ALWAYS SERIOUS... if any of these happen to you or a friend, you must tell a responsible adult IMMEDIATELY ....it's better to be safe than sorry. 
 
Why do people get depressed?
Sometimes people get seriously depressed after something like a divorce in the family, major financial problems, someone you love dying, a messed up home life, or breaking up with a boyfriend or girlfriend. Other times, depression just happens. Often teenagers react to the pain of depression by getting into trouble: trouble with alcohol, drugs, or sex; trouble with school or bad grades; problems with family or friends. This is another reason why it's important to get treatment for depression before it leads to other trouble. 
 
Alcohol, Drugs and Depression 
A lot of depressed people, especially teenagers, also have problems with alcohol or other drugs. (Alcohol is a drug, too.) Sometimes the depression comes first and people try drugs as a way to escape it. (In the long run, drugs or alcohol just make things worse.) Other times, the alcohol or other drug use comes first, and depression is caused by : 
 
the drug itself, or 
withdrawal from it, or
the problems that substance abuse causes.
And sometimes you can't tell which came first... the important point is that when you have both of these problems, the sooner you get treatment, the better. Either problems can make the other worse and lead to bigger trouble, like addiction or flunking school. You have to be honest about both problems-- first with yourself and then with someone who can help you get into treatment... it's the only way to really get better and stay better. 
 
REMEMBER: YOU CAN HELP YOURSELF, OR A FAMILY MEMBER,
OR A FRIEND FIND TREATMENT FOR DEPRESSION.
DO IT NOW!
 
Myths about depression
Myths often prevent people from doing the right thing. Some common myths about depression: 
 
MYTH: It's normal for teenagers to be moody; Teens don't suffer from "real" depression. 
FACT: Depression is more than just being moody. And it can affect people at any age, including teenagers. 
MYTH: Telling an adult that a friend might be depressed is betraying a trust. If someone wants help, he or she will get it.
FACT: Depression, which saps energy and self-esteem, interferes with a person's ability or wish to get help. It is an act
of true friendship to share your concerns with an adult who can help. No matter what you "promised" to keep secret, your friend's life is more important than a promise.
MYTH: Talking about depression only makes it worse. 
FACT: Talking about your feelings to someone who can help, like a psychologist, is the first step towards beating depression. Talking to a close friend can also provide you with the support and encouragement you need to talk to your parents or school counselor about getting evaluated for depression.






Sites with information on depression, where to get help and more: