Depression: Let’s Talk – World Health Day 2017

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Today, April 7th, is known as World Health Day.  The focus of this year’s World Health Day is Depression: Let’s Talk.  The purpose of this campaign is to raise awareness for the many individuals who suffer from depression and allow them to seek treatment earlier!  According to new estimates of depression diagnosis, the number of individuals living with depression has increased by over 18% between 2005 and 2015!  Depression is also known as the largest cause of disability WORLDWIDE!

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What Is Depression?

Depression is an illness that can be characterized by persistent sadness and loss of interest in activities that you would normally enjoy, accompanied by an inability to carry out daily activities, for at least two weeks.  This is something that can happen to anyone at all, no matter age, race, or economic background.  Depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States.  It can happen at any age, but oftentimes begins in adulthood.

Other Symptoms of Depression May Include:

  • Loss of Energy
  • Appetite Changes
  • Increase/decrease In Sleep
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Inability to Concentrate
  • Feelings of Worthlessness, Guilt or Hopelessness
  • Thoughts of Self-Harm or Suicide
  • Restlessness

Not everyone who is depressed experiences every symptom listed above.  In order for a proper diagnosis of depression, several persistent symptoms, in addition to a low mood, are required.  Symptoms may vary based on the stage of the illness.

Depression in Older Adults

Depression is commonly found in older adults, but often overlooked and under-treated.  In older adults, depression may be associated with their physical conditions, like heart disease, diabetes, chronic pain, difficult life events, or a reduced ability to do things they were possible when they were younger. It is important for caregivers to watch for the signs of depression in older adults.

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Depression is Treatable!

Depression is treatable.  Treatments vary from antidepressant medications, talking therapies, to some combination of the two.  Always remember that depression is not a sign of weakness!

What to Do If You are Depressed:
  • Remember that with help, you can get better
  • Stick to regular eating and sleeping habits
  • Stay connected with family and friends
  • Seek professional help.  Your doctor is a good place to start.
  • Talk to someone you trust about your feelings.  Most people feel better after talking to someone who cares about them.
  • Try to be active and exercise.
  • Try not to isolate yourself, and let others help you.
  • Avoid or restrict alcohol intake and refrain from using illicit drugs, as these can worsen depression symptoms
  • If you feel suicidal, CONTACT SOMEONE IMMEDIATELY FOR HELP!  

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For those individuals who seek treatment, 80% show an improvement in their symptoms within 4 to 6 weeks of starting treatment.  The problem is, around 2/3 of people with depression do not actively seek treatment, or receive the wrong treatment.  Left untreated, depression can lead to suicide, which is the 2nd leading cause of death for individuals ages 15 to 44.  It is vital to talk to your doctor if you feel that you or someone you love is depressed.  Seeking treatment is the only way to stop the feelings.  Starting with treatment will allow you to gradually feel better and your doctor will know what the best treatment is for you!

For more information check out:

World Health Organization

National Institute of Mental Health

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