SYMPTOMS OF DEPRESSION

Posted by Shirley

Persistent, sad or "empty" mood

Loss of interest or pleasure in ordinary activities, including sex

Decreased energy, fatigue, being "slowed down"

Sleep disturbances (insomnia, early-morning waking or oversleeping)

Eating disturbances (loss of appetite and weight, or weight gain)

Difficult concentrating, remembering, making decisions

Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness

Thoughts of death or suicide; suicide attempts

Irritability

Excessive crying

Chronic aches and pains that don't respond to treatment

DEPRESSION CAN AFFECT ANYONE

More people suffer from depression than you might think. Depression strikes people of all ages, backgrounds, and ethnic groups. It is estimated that about 20 million adults in the U.S. suffer from depression each year, and that up to 25% of all women and up to 12% of all men in the U.S. will experience an episode of major depression some time in their lives. About 1 out of 6 American adults have depression during their lifetimes.

Depression is not a sign of weakness or a character flaw. It is a medical condition.

CAUSES OF DEPRESSION

The exact cause of depression is not clear. No one is sure why some people get depressed and others do not. Sometimes, depression seems to happen because of a stressful event. Sometimes it seems to happen for no reason at all.

Genes may play a role. People whose blood relatives have had depression are more likely to have it, too. However, not everyone who has a relative with depression is going to develop it.

Today, it is widely recognized that depression is a medical condition that may be associated with an imbalance in the delicate chemistry of the brain. If this imbalance occurs, it can affect the way people feel and the way they see the world. It is thought not having enough of a brain chemical called serotonin may play a role in depression.

DEPRESSION IS TREATABLE

Most depressed people can benefit from treatment. In fact, early recognition and treatment seem to decrease the length and severity of depressive episodes for most people.

Treatment Options

The most common treatments are antidepressant medicines, psychotherapy, or a combination of both. You and your doctor can work together to decide on appropriate treatment. Antidepressant medicines have been proven effective in treating depression. Today, medicines called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most commonly prescribed class of antidepressants.

In psychotherapy, patient and therapist discuss the patient's experiences, relationships, events, and feelings to identify and try to resolve areas of difficulty. Working together with a supportive therapist can help you find better ways of dealing with your problems.

To help people follow their treatment plans, a free educational program called RHYTHMS® is available from Pfizer. Talk to your doctor.

Phases of Treatment

The length of treatment for depression is different for each person. In general, all medicines for depression should be taken for 6 months to 1 year. Studies have shown that to prevent depression from coming back, people should keep taking their medicine for at least 4 to 9 months after they feel better.

That's because depression can last a long time, and it may come back. There are three phases of depression treatment:

Phase 1 lasts for the first 6 to 12 weeks that a person takes medicine for depression. During this time, the person should begin to feel better. But it's still important for the person to keep taking the antidepressant medication because the depression can still come back during Phase 1.

Phase 2 lasts for 4 to 9 months. The person should remain feeling better with continued treatment. Usually, the person will keep taking medicine at the same dose during Phase 2. The person should not stop taking the antidepressant medication without talking to the doctor.

Phase 3 of treatment can last another year, or longer. How long it lasts depends on the depressed person's medical history and on the advice of the doctor or other healthcare professional. Not all people need to take their medicine for depression during Phase 3.

See a Doctor for Help

If you think you or someone you care about may be depressed, it's important to talk to a doctor. Depression is a medical condition that responds well to treatment, so a good person to talk to is a doctor, especially one who already knows a lot about your or your loved one's history and health. Together, you can determine if depression is involved and decide on appropriate next steps

FEELING GOOD ABOUT GETTING BETTER

You may find that dealing with depression is one of the most challenging situations you have ever faced. But people who have been successfully treated for depression — and there are millions of them — say that being able to beat depression made them realize how strong they were. And once they got back to themselves, they appreciated life even more