Daniel Lynch, L.P.C.
Psychiatry & Psychology
Although we all experience grief and sadness, depression can be much more than that. An estimated 10% percent of the U.S. population suffers from some type of depression, so know that you aren't alone.
More than just a bout of the blues, depression isn't a weakness and you can't simply "snap out" of it. Depression may require long-term treatment. But don't get discouraged. There are ways to cope and manage if you feel that depression is taking over your life.
Signs of depression
Although depression may occur only once during your life, people typically have multiple episodes.
During these episodes, symptoms occur most of the day, nearly every day and may include:
- Constant negative thoughts
- Feeling of hopelessness, emptiness, sadness or tearfulness
- Feeling tired or having less energy
- Low mood
- Overly self-critical or low self-regard
- Thoughts of self-harm or suicide
- Withdrawing from friends, relatives or work
- Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities
- Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much
- Difficulty thinking, concentrating, making decisions or remembering things
For many people with depression, symptoms usually are severe enough to cause noticeable problems in day-to-day activities, such as work, school, social activities or relationships with others. Some people may feel generally miserable or unhappy without really knowing why.
There's no sure way to prevent depression but these strategies may help:
- Eat nutritious foods with plenty of fruits and vegetables
- Exercise every day for at least 20–30 minutes
- Get 7–8 hours of sleep each night
- Keep thoughts balanced and positive
- Take a Vitamin D daily supplement
- Take steps to control stress
- Reach out to family and friends, especially during times of crisis
Medications and psychotherapy are effective for most people with depression. Your primary care doctor or psychiatrist can prescribe medications to relieve symptoms. However, many people with depression also benefit from seeing a psychiatrist, psychologist or other mental health professional.
If you have severe depression, you may need a hospital stay, or you may need to participate in an outpatient treatment program until your symptoms improve.
If you are thinking about self-harm or suicide, seek professional help immediately.
Depression is nothing to be ashamed of and is treatable. Talk with your health care provider or a mental health professional if you are concerned you may be depressed. The nonprofit organization Mental Health America also offers a free, confidential online depression screening.