Do You Have Depression?

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  • If you’ve been feeling “down” or lethargic for the past several days, it’s probably time for you to go to your doctor to see if you have depression. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Depression isn’t something you can get rid of by “pulling yourself together” or “snapping out of it.” It’s a medical condition that can be solved through the right treatments.
  • Are You At Risk? Women are twice as likely as men to get depression. Other people at risk are those with a depressed parent or sibling. Depression occurs in children as well.
  • What Causes It? Depression is linked to changes in brain structure and an imbalance in brain chemicals like serotonin and norepinephrine. The condition can also be linked to a woman’s giving birth (post-partum depression) or by gloomy weather (SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder).
  • Signs Of Depression Besides a loss of interest in daily life, you may have either a sharply increased or decreased appetite leading to weight gain or loss; experience insomnia or sleeping too much; and a sense of hopelessness. You may begin abusing drugs or alcohol to escape your pain. You may even have suicidal thoughts.
  • The Consequences Of Depression If your depression is left untreated, you may end up affecting your career, your family life or your social life because you no longer have the energy to perform work-related tasks or to try to connect with other people.
  • How To Get Help Talk to your doctor about your symptoms. He or she may make a diagnosis or refer you to a specialist, such as a psychiatrist. Depression can be treated through therapy or antidepressants; experts often favor a combination of both. Seasonal Affective Disorder can be treated with light therapy via a light box.
  • Self-Care Besides therapy and medication, you can take care of yourself by exercising 20 to 30 minutes per day and by finding a support group in your community or online. Relationships with others can help you feel better.