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Depression: You Don't Have to Go it Alone

Published in Behavioral Health Services, For the Health of It

Talking about mental health can be hard. For some people, the thought of talking to their doctor about their mental health is scary. But getting treatment for mental illness is important. Left untreated, it can get worse or lead to other health problems. Deciding to talk to a trusted health care professional is the first step on your journey to feeling better.

The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that 7.8% of all adults in the U.S. suffer from depression. However, many people with depression don't seek out help for their symptoms, so the actual number of people living with depression may be higher. Depression can be effectively treated, and you don't have to go it alone.

Short lived feelings of being down or sad happen to most people occasionally, but these feelings usually pass within a few days. Depression, if untreated, can carry with it a high cost and may take a toll on our relationships. Depression can potentially lead to loss of relationships, emotional strain on families and make it difficult to manage our careers and day to day interests and responsibilities.

People who suffer from depression may experience feelings that linger through most of each day for longer than two weeks. Signs and symptoms of depression can include:

  1. Persistent sad, anxious or empty feelings.
  2. Feelings of inappropriate guilt, hopelessness, helplessness or pessimism.
  3. Irritability or feeling keyed up or on edge.
  4. Loss of interest in activities/hobbies, once found pleasurable.
  5. Insomnia, early morning wakefulness or sleeping too much.
  6. Decreased appetite or compulsive eating.
  7. Thoughts or attempts of suicide.
  8. Complaints of other health issues such as digestive problems, headaches, or cramps that don't get better with treatment.

When it comes to depression, it's important to find a treatment that works for you. If you feel comfortable with the approach, you're more likely to continue treatment, which can lead to more improvement in your symptoms over time.

The need for support and involvement of family and friends is also important. Family and friends can offer emotional support, encouragement and provide assistance in getting their loved one to the appropriate health care professional. Asking other people to help is okay. The most important thing is that you get the help you need.

If you or someone you love is thinking about suicide, get help immediately:

  • Call 911 for emergency services.
  • Call the toll-free 24-hour hotline of the National Suicide Prevention lifeline (800-273-TALK) (800-273-8255) to be connected to a trained counselor at the suicide crisis center nearest you.