Depression affects more than 15 million American adults annually. An estimated 350 million people of all ages experience symptoms of depression and about 13 percent of Americans take antidepressants. Depression can be commonly found in women between the ages of 40 and 50. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, women experience depression at twice the rate of men, regardless of racial or ethnic background or economic status. The lifetime prevalence of major depression is 20-26% for women and 8-12% for men. Common symptoms of women struggling with depression are feelings of guilt, emptiness and apathy. Depression in women is also impacted by hormonal factors during menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause. Common symptoms of men suffering from depression are anger, restlessness, reckless behavior, and substance abuse. Depressed men are less likely to acknowledge feelings of self-loathing and hopelessness.
Many people suffer from symptoms of depression without even realizing. If you identify with more than one of the following symptom of depression—and they just won’t go away, you should seek help.
- Hopeless and helpless – the feeling of being at the bottom of the pit with no way to pull yourself out.
- Anti-Social – Loss of interest in former hobbies or activities. No desire to ne around others.
- Exhaustion – Inability to sleep or even over exhaustion and oversleeping can be symptoms of depression.
- Change in mood or appetite – Significant weight loss or weight gain. Feelings of agitation, restlessness, even violence. Low level of tolerance and short temper.
- Inability to concentrate – Energy loss, fatigue, lack of focus.
- Constant negativity
- Short-tempered, easily angered, or more aggressive than usual
- Increase in alcohol consumption
- Engaging in other reckless behavior
There are many risk factors that are likely to make a person more vulnerable to depression. These include:
- Loneliness and isolation
- Lack of social support
- Recent stressful life experiences
- Family history of depression
- Marital or relationship problems
- Financial strain
- Early childhood trauma or abuse
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- Unemployment or underemployment
- Health problems or chronic pain
It is also common to find people who suffer from other mental disorders to suffer from depression. Nearly one-half of those diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. In some cases, a person may only experience one episode of depression, but the condition tends to recur throughout a person’s life.
There are a variety of different types of depression that can have different symptoms. Major depressive disorder (MDD)is a serious clinical mood disorder that severely impacts a person’s everyday life and wellbeing. People suffering from dysthymia usually exemplify symptoms of a poor appetite or overeating, insomnia or hypersomnia, fatigue or low energy, poor concentration, indecisiveness, low self-esteem, and feelings of hopelessness. People experiencing symptoms of dysthymia may also be at risk for episodes of major depression. Postpartum Depression can be experienced by women after giving birth. It can occur anywhere from weeks to months after childbirth. Studies suggest that women who experience major depression after childbirth very often have had prior depressive episodes even though they may not have been diagnosed or treated. Seasonal Affective Depression is a type of depression experienced during the winter. Weight gain and social withdrawal are major symptoms of Seasonal Depression. According to a study done at the National Institute of Mental Health, people with depression are four times as likely to develop a heart attack than those without a history of the illness. After a heart attack, they are at a significantly increased risk of death or second heart attack.
A great way to naturally fight depression is thirty minutes of exercise three times a week. This can be just as effective as antidepressants for many patients. Exercise works on regulating the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and serotonin, increasing the body’s temperature and creating a calming effect.
Depression makes it difficult to function and enjoy life. It can interfere with your ability to work, study, eat, sleep, and have fun. If you are experiencing any of the above, please seek help.
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Eric Silver has been helping a close family member learn to cope with depression for nearly twenty years. Over the years, he’s developed a passion for mental health awareness. Mr. Silver has researched and written extensively within the mental health area, specifically in regard to bi-polar, depression, stress, and anxiety issues.