Depression is a common condition that’s not always well-understood by many people. It’s been estimated that 17 million Americans suffer from depression during any given year, and roughly 9 percent of people report that they’re depressed at any given time. Most of us have been through a time when we felt depressed about something, but that’s different from clinical depression, which tends to be deeper and longer lasting.

Well-meaning spouses, parents, and friends may try to help people who are depressed by urging them to cheer up or by pointing to the good things in their lives. It’s always good to see people who want to help, but most don’t realize that it’s difficult, if not impossible, for someone who’s deeply depressed to change his or her mood.

It’s important to take depression seriously. Studies have shown that people suffering from major depressions are nearly 20 times more likely to die by suicide than average people. In fact, half of all people who have taken their lives had told someone else they were depressed.

Depression isn’t a flaw in someone’s personality. It’s a medical condition that can be treated through counseling, medication, or a combination of the two. Depression can be triggered by medical factors, such as a chemical imbalance in the body, and as a response to life events. While no two cases of depression are the same, the vast majority of people who seek treatment report that their symptoms improve. That’s why it’s so important to ensure people who are suffering from depression get the help they need.

If you or someone you know is experiencing one or more of these symptoms, depression may be the cause:

  • difficulty with making decisions and concentrating
  • loss of interest in pleasurable activities such as sex
  • overwhelming fatigue
  • major changes in eating habits
  • odd headaches or digestive problems that don’t get better
  • constantly feeling sad, empty, or hopeless
  • difficulty sleeping or sleeping far more than normal
  • irritability and feelings of worthlessness and helplessness
  • thoughts about suicide or past attempts.

If you recognize those symptoms in yourself or someone you know, it’s time to get help. People who feel depressed can contact their doctors or mental health professionals like the team at Care to Change. Depression has to be diagnosed by a professional, and then that professional can develop a treatment plan. If you’d like to sit down with one of our professionals or talk with us about finding help for someone you know, you can contact us here.

If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call 911 immediately. If you are in crisis or are experiencing difficult or suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273 TALK (8255) or text to 741-741, and you’ll be connected to a free, trained crisis counselor.

Bill Overpeck is one of Care to Change’s professional counselors who specializes in depression.

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