Sometimes we can find ourselves in a rut in life. We no longer get excited about the things we used to look forward to and everything just seems mediocre. Sometimes these feelings last a few days and then we find ourselves back to our normal. On the other hand, at times, these feelings can stick with us and we may find that we are battling something a little more serious.
How Common is Depression?
Depression is a highly common mental health diagnosis that affects people of all ages. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, around 17.3 million people in the United States over the age of 18 experience at least one major depressive episode each year. This equates to 7.1% of all American adults. Younger people are also impacted by depression, with 9.7% of young people in the United States experiencing severe major depression within the last year.
With depression being such a common diagnosis, it is important to understand some of its causes. Many people want to know the reason they are experiencing depression which can play an essential role in understanding its cause and beginning to treat it. For some people, the root of their depression will be obvious, however, for others it may appear for no apparent reason. Some common causes of depression include: life events such as having a baby, bereavement, a job change, financial difficulties, having a family history of depression, stressful events, alcohol and drug abuse, loneliness or isolation, and illness or poor health.
There are many different symptoms of depression and it can affect people in different ways. While it is common to feel down once in a while, having a regular or ongoing appearance of these symptoms suggests that a person may be depressed. Depression can vary in severity from mild to severe. Some symptoms of mild depression include: feeling deflated or low persistently, having a lack of excitement for things you previously enjoyed, a lack of appetite, irritability, feeling empty or numb, low sex drive, feeling tired or having trouble sleeping, low self-esteem, and experiencing anxiety. Symptoms of severe depression include those associated with mild depression as well as: inability to carry out self-care or fulfill responsibilities, suicidal thoughts or attempts, a feeling of hopelessness, and insomnia or excessive sleeping, to name a few.
If you feel that you or a loved one may be experiencing depression it may be beneficial to seek professional medical advice and counseling. In combination with getting help from a professional, there are several lifestyle changes that can help people experiencing depression. These include: eating a balanced diet, giving up smoking, reducing alcohol intake, exercising regularly, sharing experiences with others in similar situations, joining support groups, reading self-help books, and understanding the triggers of depression.
Understanding depression, it’s causes and symptoms can help an individual recognize if he/she may be experiencing depression so that a person can find help sooner rather than later. The sooner a person is able to identify and receive treatment for depression, the shorter the depressive episode may be and the quicker that person can work toward getting back to a happier, healthier state of mind.