What You Need to Know About Depression
Prevalence, Warning Signs, Importance of Seeking Help
In a three-month period, patients with depression miss an average of 4.8 workdays and suffer 11.5 days of reduced productivity according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Depression is estimated to cause 200 million lost workdays each year at a cost to employers of $17 billion to $44 billion. All of us will feel sad at some point in life, but if you continue to feel sad every day for at least two weeks your sadness could be turning into depression. Depression is also characterized by:
- loss of interest
- a reluctance to complete normal activities to the point that it takes you a lot to get out of bed or make a simple decision
- change in your appetite
- A negative outlook on life
- thoughts of self-harm.
Men are more likely to express anger, frustration or lash out at others when they experience depression, which is one reason why it is often overlooked.
The most important thing to know is that you are not alone and you don’t have to be ashamed of how you feel. Millions of people all over the world deal with depression every day. Sometimes depression is situational, brought on by a traumatic event such as the loss of a loved one or loss of a job that shakes up your routine but may resolve after a period of time. Clinical depression occurs if the feelings linger or if they slowly build over time without a specific cause.
When you notice that you’ve been persistently sad, make an appointment with your primary care physician. He or she can help you understand what you are feeling and what next steps you can take. There are medications available that, when taken on a regular basis, really do help you get on the right track, whether you’ve experienced a life-changing event or have been feeling down for a long time.
Wes Swan, a counselor with Cone Health Outpatient Behavioral Health at Greensboro, spoke on Fox 8 House Call about the signs, symptoms and prevalence of depression.
Children and Adolescents
Many people think of depression as an illness only adults suffer from; however, children and adolescents can also become depressed. In fact, the number of adolescents in the general population that suffer from depression at any given point in time has been steadily increasing, yet only about 30 percent of all children and adolescents get treatment. The behavior of depressed children and teenagers often differs from the behavior of depressed adults. Signs of depression in children and adolescents include:
- Increased irritability, anger or hostility
- Acting out or sudden behavioral issues
- Decreased interest in activities or inability to enjoy previously favorite activities
- Frequent sadness, tearfulness, crying
- Persistent boredom; low energy
- Social isolation, poor communication
- Low self-esteem and guilt
- Extreme sensitivity to rejection or failure
- Difficulty with relationships
- Thoughts or expressions of suicide or self-destructive behavior
While many parents are familiar with the moodiness that often comes hand in hand with adolescence, symptoms of depression are more severe and last longer. The earlier depression is detected and diagnosed, the better the treatment outcomes. Therefore, if you suspect signs of depression in your child or teen, discuss it with their doctor immediately, as they may need a referral to a behavioral health professional.
Dr. Deborah Ross, psychiatrist at Cone Health Behavioral Health in Reidsville, spoke on Fox 8 House Call about how to detect depression in children and adolescents.
Depression is defined as having a consistently depressed mood every day for at least two weeks. If you think you may be suffering from depression, talk to your primary care physician. They can assess you, compare your current state to what they know of you, and offer guidance on what the best next steps can be.
Traditional treatments for depression may involve:
- Exercise – 30 minutes a day of rigorous activity can improve your mood in the same way as taking one antidepressant.
- Talk therapy – Finding a therapist that you can relate to is extremely important. Don’t be afraid to consult more than one or treat your first consultation as an interview.
- Medication – Your doctor can prescribe or refer you to a psychiatrist to help you find the right medication for your symptoms.
- Biofeedback – An alternative therapy that uses bodily responses, like breathing, to help patients relax and elevate mood levels.
- Neurofeedback – Also called EEG biofeedback or neurotherapy, is a research-proven way to help you improve your brain function through intensive brain training exercises. This type of treatment is only provided by specialists.
If all forms of traditional treatment aren’t enough, talk to your physician about invasive therapy options that are available to you. If you experience thoughts of suicide or self-harm get help immediately. Visit your local emergency department or call the Cone Health Help Line at 336-832-9700.
Jennifer Becker, therapist and manager of the Cone Health Employee Assistance Counseling Program, spoke on Fox 8 House Call about treatment options for depression.