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The Lowdown on Depression

Apr 25, 2018Health Focus

“How much do you know about the common mental health disorder—depression?”

We all have days, even weeks, when we feel down in the dumps. But if you’ve been feeling low for longer than you care to remember, depression might be to blame. It’s a serious medical illness that shouldn’t be ignored.

Major depression is one of the most common mental illnesses diagnosed, affecting more than 16 million Americans each year, according to Mental Health America (MHA). In general, women are twice as likely to suffer from depression compared to men. But you shouldn’t ignore depression in men. Men as a group tend to keep their emotions to themselves and find it harder to ask for help.

Depression is more than having sad thoughts after a negative event. It can be triggered by brain chemical imbalance, negative thinking patterns, certain illnesses or medications, family history or—sometimes—no apparent reason at all 

Unfortunately, diagnosing depression isn’t as easy as detecting a broken bone. Your doctor will have to look for medical causes or environmental factors or even both. Do you know the signs of depression?

According to MHA, symptoms to watch for include:

  • Contemplating suicide or death

  • Feeling hopeless or helpless

  • Losing interest in activities you used to love

  • Persistent sad or empty mood

  • Sleeping too much or too little

In addition, other symptoms might include appetite and weight loss or gain, restlessness or irritability, on-going physical symptoms, difficulty concentrating or making decisions, or feelings of guilt.

Untreated depression can have a wide range of effects—from trouble at work and at home to suicide. And research shows that the longer you wait to get help, the more it can hurt your health later on. Remember, depression is a treatable illness.

The first step to beating depression is talking to your doctor.

Talk to an Expert

Dr. Richard Brown, psychiatrist at BMH, works with patients of all ages suffering from addiction, substance abuse, depression, anxiety, ADHD, dementia, depression, and other mental health challenges. He also focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of mental and emotional disorders in the elderly.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Brown, call (208) 782-2955. He welcomes patients in Blackfoot and Idaho Falls.

Take Our Lowdown on Depression Quiz

How much do you know about depression? Test your knowledge with this quiz.