Everyone feels sad once in a while. But if you feel sad or empty almost every day, you could have symptoms of depression. These feelings can get in the way of your daily life.
Depression is a real illness that may affect your mind and your body. It can affect your appetite, energy level, sleep patterns, the way you feel about yourself, and even the way you think about things.
This common medical illness may occur once in your life, but many people experience it more often.
||Depression is believed to affect nearly 1 in 10 Americans over the age of 18.
Only your health care professional can determine whether you have depression, but this website can help you learn more about it now.
What causes it?
While the cause of depression is unknown, it is thought to involve an imbalance of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters help your brain cells talk to each other.
In addition, brain-imaging scans have shown that the brains of people who have depression look different from those who don't. The differences are seen in parts of the brain involved in mood, thinking, sleep, appetite and behavior.
Scientists are also looking at certain genes that may make some people more likely to develop depression. In addition, trauma, loss of a loved one, or any stressful situation may trigger a depressive episode. However, depression can occur even when there is no obvious cause.
What are the symptoms?
Below are some symptoms your health care professional may ask about to decide if you have depression. Discuss symptoms that apply to you with your health care professional today.
- Moods that are often sad, anxious, or "empty"
- Feelings of guilt, lack of worth, or helplessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that you once enjoyed, including sex
- Fatigue and decreased energy
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
- Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
- Decrease in appetite and/or overeating
- Thoughts of suicide and suicide attempts
- Feelings of restlessness
Not everyone experiences all of these symptoms. But this list should give you an idea of what health care professionals look for to determine if you have depression. Only they are able to diagnose and treat depression.
Get the support you need
If your health care professional has diagnosed you with depression, you're not alone. There are many in-person and online support groups you can turn to for help and reassurance.
Here are some links to organizations that can help you find a support group and help you learn more about depression and treatment options:
If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, talk to someone who can help.
Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org.