Guest: Dr. Jamie Simmons
Date: Oct. 15, 2013
Depression is more than just a “bad day.” It’s an illness, not a mood. Major depressive disorders like depression affect about 25 million adult Americans each year. These disorders cause changes in sleep, appetite and energy. They slow thinking and cause irritability, hopelessness and guilt. And depression can make it more difficult to treat other chronic conditions, such as arthritis, asthma, cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, major illness is the leading cause of disability in the United States. People who suffer from depression at some point in their lives are at a 50 percent risk of experiencing it again. And subsequent episodes raise the likelihood of experiencing more episodes in the future.
Major depression often goes unrecognized and untreated. Too often, the disorder is misconstrued as a sign of weakness, rather than being recognized as an illness.
So what are some warning signs:
- Diminished interest in activities that used to be pleasurable
- Weight gain or weight loss
- Inappropriate guilt
- Difficulties concentrating, and thought processes seem to slow down
- Recurrent thoughts of death
(When should you seek medical attention?)
Seasonal affective disorder is another disorder we see this time of year, when people are exposed to less and less sunlight. And the holidays are not that far away, and while they are usually a time of joy and celebration, for some people, they can bring depression and stress.
Some tips for coping:
- Exercise regularly
- Be realistic about what you can do.
- Try doing something for someone else, such as a volunteer activity.
- Avoid alcohol, as it can make depression worse.
- Spend time with people who are supportive and caring. Make new friends or contact someone you haven’t seen in a while.
- Connect with your higher power – do something spiritual – meditate, pray, or go to church