Every year approximately 9.5 percent of the American population suffers from depression. Depression is a grave illness that affects day to day life and destroys families. It is a disorder that controls the mind and its functions causing loss of appetite, sleeplessness, mood swings, and a deep sense of despair.

The symptoms of depression are varied and the severity changes with time. And, according to experts depression can be an inherited disorder, or caused by life threatening illnesses, or stress. Other causes are certain diseases, medicines, drugs, alcohol, or mental illnesses. Women are seen to experience depression more than men and this is attributed to hormonal swings, menstrual cycle changes, pregnancy, miscarriage, pre-menopause, and post-menopause.

Common symptoms are:

1. An unshakeable sadness, anxiety, or emptiness.

2. Overwhelming hopelessness accompanied by pessimistic feelings.

3. Extreme guilt, feelings of helplessness, and no sense of self worth.

4. Loss of energy, a slowing down of metabolism, and activity levels. Being plagued by constant fatigue.

5. A sense of helplessness along with an increasing inability to focus and indecisiveness.

6. Loss of sound sleep and development of extreme insomnia.

7. Inexplicable weight loss or weight gain. Triggered by loss of appetite or eating binges.

8. Brooding and suicidal inclinations.

9. Irritability, short temper, as well as restlessness.

10. Physical afflictions like headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain for no particular reason.

If you experience any of the above along with a marked change in behavior do consult your doctor. He will give you a thorough examination to rule out physical causes for depression as well as any underlying medical problems. Then if required he will recommend that you consult a psychiatrist or psychologist.

Take matters in hand and try and erase negativity from your mind. Cut out from you life terms like exhaustion, worthlessness, and hopelessness. Change your life by setting yourself a few goals. Try and relax, meditate, and enjoy music. Start new activities that absorb your time as well as interests. Go out and meet people and participate in group activities. Avoid the company of negative people. Make up your mind to enjoy a movie, ballgame, family outing, picnic, or trek. Be positive, self confident, and have faith in yourself. Faith is itself a great healer. Decide to change your world for the better. However do follow the doctor’s advice. Treatment can include: anti-depressant medicines, psychotherapy, as well as lifestyle changes. In extreme cases electroconvulsive therapy or light therapy are prescribed.

If your depression escalates or you are suicidal seek help from your family physician or health care provider. Do call a local health department, a community mental health center, or hospital or clinic. Someone will extend a helping hand and talk you through the crisis.

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