Depression is a treatable disease

We all feel sad when we lose a loved one or suffer a setback. Sadness and grief are normal and temporary reactions to life’s stresses. But depressive illness is different. Sufferers don’t feel better for weeks, months or years. Depression is a mood disorder that affects their feelings, thoughts, behavior and physical wellbeing, and prevents them from functioning normally.

Each year, between 17 to 20 million Americans suffer a depressive illness. Because they don’t know it’s a treatable disease, most won’t seek treatment. However, about 80% of even serious depression can be cured with modern treatment methods.

Recognizing serious depression

Personal loss, divorce, financial problems, physical illness, life crisis, sex role expectations, job loss or moving can all contribute to depression. Even without a triggering event, one's personality, upbringing or a pre-existing vulnerability can lead to depressive illness. Watch for these signs.

Recognizing serious depression Details

  • Persistent low, anxious or empty feelings
  • Decreased energy or fatigue
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities, including sex
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Sleep disturbances (insomnia, early waking or oversleeping)
  • Loss or gain of appetite or weight
  • Negative feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
  • Focusing on problems and faults
  • Being critical of yourself and others
  • Frequent complaining
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness or helplessness
  • Thoughts of death or suicide; suicide attempts
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions
  • Chronic aches or persistent bodily symptoms not caused by physical disease

Depression can hit at any age

Depressive illness affects people at every stage as they struggle with life's normal changes.

Depression can hit at any age Details

  • Children: often related to family conflict
  • Adolescents: social and physical changes often lead to wide mood swings and depression
  • Young adults: may become depressed as they struggle with new responsibilities
  • Middle-aged adults: may face empty nests or unrealized life goals
  • Elderly: rarely admit feeling depressed even though they have much to be depressed about (poor health, loneliness, poverty or the death of a spouse or family members)

How to help a depressed loved one

The most important thing you can do is encourage a depressed person to get professional treatment. That's because their feelings of helplessness, hopelessness and worthlessness can keep them from seeking help.

How to help a depressed loved one Details

  • Provide the support, love and encouragement they need:
  • Maintain as normal a relationship as possible
  • Point out their negative thinking without being critical or disapproving
  • Acknowledge their suffering and pain
  • Offer kind words and give them compliments
  • Express affection
  • Show that you care, respect and value them
  • Keep them busy and active to keep them from withdrawing
  • Watch for suicidal tendencies even in mild depression
  • Don’t blame them for their condition
  • Don’t criticize or pick on them
  • Don’t do or say anything to worsen their poor self-image

The sooner the treatment, the faster the recovery.

Common treatments include medications (usually antidepressants) and therapy. If you or someone you know experiences the symptoms of depression, contact your local Allwell Counseling Center for information, or call 855-231-0502 for an appointment.