Depression is a serious medical illness affecting more than 14 million American adults every year. Often a debilitating disorder, depression results in a persistent state of sadness or loss of interest or pleasure which interferes with an individual’s thoughts, behavior, mood, and physical health. In 2000, the economic burden of depression was estimated at $83.1 billion in the US and researchers estimate that by the year 2020, depression will be the second leading cause of disability worldwide.
Depression can be a lethal disease. In fact, each year in the US, over 30,000 people die by suicide, 60% of whom suffer from depression. Overall, women are almost twice as likely as men to suffer from depression; however, some experts feel that depression in men is under-reported. Depression has no racial, ethnic or socioeconomic boundaries. About two-thirds of those who experience an episode of depression will have at least one other episode in their lives. While the exact cause of depression is not known, the leading scientific theory is that depression is caused by decreased activity in the neural networks of the brain that regulate emotion and motivation. Increasing levels of neurotransmitters in the brain has been found to reactivate these neural networks, or create new networks. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that send signals between brain cells. Depression is most often treated with antidepressant medications. It is believed that antidepressant medications work by increasing the levels of these neurotransmitters.
Depression results in a persistent state of sadness or a loss of the ability to experience pleasure. Those experiencing depression often lose interest in everyday activities or hobbies that were once enjoyed. According to the standard diagnosis guide (DSM-IV-TR) published by the American Psychiatric Association, depression is diagnosed when an individual is experiencing either a depressed mood or a loss of interest or pleasure plus four or more of the following symptoms during the same two-week period:
- Significant weight loss (when not dieting) or weight gain (a change of more than five percent of
body weight in a month)
- Significant increase or decrease in appetite
- Excessive sleepiness or insomnia
- Agitation and restlessness
- Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day
- Feelings of worthlessness or excessive and inappropriate guilt nearly every day
- Diminished ability to think, concentrate, or make decisions
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
If you feel you are experiencing any of these depression symptoms, contact our office and speak with them about your depression treatment options.