Primarily, depression is a mood disorder which affects the whole person (body as well as mind). Some of the behaviors it can lead to include:
withdrawal from activities and people;
a loss of pleasure in previously enjoyed activities and an absence of enjoyment of life;
feelings of loneliness, sadness or disappointment;
physical discomforts such as aches, pains, fatigue, poor digestion, sleep disturbances, etc.
Everyone feels blue or down at times. It is a normal and natural response to tension and stress. However, they usually pass in a short time. When such feelings are prolonged or are severe, it may be depression.
Depression affects millions of people every year. It is one of the most common problems in the United States today. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most widely misunderstood problems. It is often ignored or remains untreated. This results from a number of reasons:
people are afraid they may seem weak;
they do not recognize the symptoms; or
they are possibly too depressed to take action.
When depression is not treated, it can disrupt family relations or work, as well as social relations and other activities.
Depression can affect anyone at any time:
children (even babies)
It may be caused by one or more of the following:
genetic patterns; and
Generally, a broad range of symptoms may be present. These include:
changes in behavior and attitude;
significantly different feelings or perceptions; or
physical complaints with no apparent physical cause.
As with most problems, solutions and treatment are most effective when begun early. Depression is usually treated by a combination of medication and psychotherapy, depending upon the causes and type of depression. Most can be successfully treated without hospitalization. Many health insurance policies cover at least part of the cost of treatment. The cost of treatment is small compared to the suffering and problems that may result from prolonged depression.
You can take some action if you or someone you know has symptoms of depression. Some of these include:
see a physician;
talk things over with an understanding friend;
don't expect too much of yourself;
take a break for a favorite activity;
get some exercise;
avoid extra stress.
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For information on Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), read about it