Are You Experiencing Depression?

Everyone feels “down” sometimes. To feel discouraged or sad sometimes is perfectly normal. Having passing moods of dissatisfaction with life is a normal human condition. To feel grief or sadness during times of loss is expected and understandable. But for 9.4 million Americans feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, despondency, fatigue, isolation and futility have taken control of their lives. One in four women and one in ten men will experience a clinical level of depression at sometime during their lifetime. Even though Depression is a very treatable illness, many sufferers go untreated because they do not recognize the symptoms.

Do you have symptoms of depression?

Note the symptoms you have experiences persistently for two weeks or longer.

  • Feelings of sadness.
  • Feeling empty or purposeless.
  • Persistent feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.
  • Irritability.
  • Loss of interest in friends and family.
  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering things.
  • Missing work.
  • Changes in appetite (either significant weight loss, not from dieting, or weight gain).
  • Loss of interest and pleasure in activities you used to enjoy.
  • Loss of energy, fatigue.
  • Feelings of worthlessness.
  • Feelings of inappropriate guilt.
  • Inability to concentrate or think, indecisiveness.
  • Recurring thoughts of death or suicide, wishing to die, or attempting suicide (people suffering this symptom should receive treatment immediately!).
  • Melancholia (defined as overwhelming feelings of sadness and grief) accompanied by waking at least 2 hours earlier than normal in the morning and moving significantly more slowly.
  • Disturbed thinking, a symptom developed by some severely depressed persons. (For example, severely depressed people sometimes have beliefs not based in reality about physical disease, sinfulness, or poverty.)
  • Physical symptoms, such as headaches, stomach aches body pains and aches.

If you or someone you know has had four or more of these symptoms continually for more than two weeks, professional help should be sought.

Depression is highly treatable, between 80 and 90 percent of all depressed people respond to treatment and nearly all depressed people who receive treatment see at least some relief from their symptoms. Cognitive/behavioral therapy, which addresses the belief systems held by the depressed person is highly successful. As is Interpersonal Psychotherapy which focuses on how a person relates to others. Both of these types of therapy have been scientifically researched and shown to be effective in the treatment of depression.

If you know of someone who may be depressed it is important to help her or him learn more about this illness and look into treatment. Severe depression can lead to thoughts of hopelessness and despondency that may lead to thoughts of suicide. Suicide is the eighth leading cause of death in our country; it is the third leading cause of death in young people aged 15 to 24. Every day 15 young people in this age range kill themselves. One of the best strategies to prevent suicide is early recognition and treatment of depression.

Depression can occur at any age. Women who have just given birth are at higher risk (this form of depression is known as Postpartum Depression). Elderly people may be depressed but their symptoms go unnoticed because they are attributed to the slowing down of old age.

epression is a successfully treated illness. Psychologists treat it with psychotherapies such as Cognitive/behavioral and Interpersonal Therapies. Psychiatrist treat people with highly effective medications that work in the brain to increase the nuerotransmitters which help the electro/chemical function of the brain and relieve depression. There are also many helpful books such as, Happiness Is a Choice: The Symptoms, Causes and Cures of Depression, by Frank Minirth and Paul Meier, and When Living Hurts: Directives for Treating Depression by Michael Yapko.

  • Information Packets on depression and its treatment are available through the Nightingale Center. To order a packet for yourself or someone you care about or to make an appointment please call 714-993-5343.

This site contains general information and is not intended as a substitute for therapeutic intervention, professional diagnosis by a licensed mental health professional or for consulting your physician. If you are experiencing an emergency situation please call 911 or go to your local emergency room for intervention and treatment.

For further reading on this topic you can find Mind Over Mood, by Geenberger and Padesky and The Depression Workbook, a Guide for Living with Depression and Manic Depression, by Copeland and London.