What is depression?

Published 9:21 am Thursday, October 18, 2012

by Laura EllingtonJourney to Wellness

Everyone occasionally feels ‘blue’ or sad, but these feelings are usually short-lived and pass within a couple of days. Depression is diagnosed when these feelings intensify and interfere with daily life. Depression is a common but serious condition that affects all ages. Treatment for depression may involve lifestyle changes, counseling and medication.
Signs and symptoms of depression include; persistent sad, anxious or ‘empty’ feelings; irritability, loss of interest in participating in activities that once were pleasurable; fatigue, decreased energy, difficulty concentrating and making decisions. Depression may also involve sleep disruption, change in appetite and thoughts of suicide. Physical symptoms may include; aches, pains, headaches or digestive problems that do not improve with treatment.
Other illnesses often co-exist with depression such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease. When depression is diagnosed along with these illnesses, the symptoms of both may be more severe. Treatment of depression can improve symptoms of the physical illness.
Depression occurs throughout the lifespan. A child who is depressed may refuse to go to school, complain of physical illness, cling to a parent, get into trouble at school and become irritable or anxious. Adolescents often experience depression along with anxiety, eating disorders or substance abuse. Throughout life, situational stressors may lead to depression. The length and severity of symptoms determine the need for treatment.
Depression is not a normal part of aging. Studies show that depression in older adults may be overlooked because seniors may show different, less obvious signs of the condition and may be less likely to share symptoms with medical professionals.
There is effective treatment available for even the most severe cases of depression. The first step is to share symptoms with a doctor or mental health professional.   Counseling and therapeutic support is a valuable tool in treating depression. Antidepressant medication may be prescribed and should be taken as directed under a doctor’s supervision.
More information about depression can be found at www.nimh.nih.gov or locally at the Polk Wellness Center in Columbus, NC.  Polk Wellness offers an integrated model providing primary medical care and mental health services, as well as substance abuse, prevention, education, wellness and recovery support in an atmosphere of respect for all.  PWC accepts clients with most insurance plans as well as those without insurance. Call 828-894-2222 for more information and appointments.

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