Depression Symptoms and Causes
Dr. Joshua Straus with a patient
When we have a disappointment, we lose a loved one, we have problems at work or at home, it's only natural to feel sad or worried. Everyone feels sad at times. Most people, however, bounce back rather quickly. When the worries and sadness persist, when even small chores become difficult, and life becomes empty and joyless, you may have a reason for concern. You may be suffering from a depressive disorder.
A depressive disorder is an illness that involves body, mind and mood. It affects basic physical functions like energy level and speed of motion. When present, it is likely to affect your ability to concentrate and think, your feelings about yourself, the world around you and your future. Without treatment, depressive illnesses can persist for months or years. Depression can pose a life-threatening condition in the form of a serious risk of suicide.
More than 18 million adults suffer from one of the depressive disorders, which fall into three basic types. Treatment for these disorders usually involves a combination of psychotherapy and medication. Biological approaches include medication treatment and management, and in some cases electro-convulsant therapy (ECT) if needed. Medical research shows that depression is linked to brain chemical imbalances. Research also shows that life problems such as stress at home or at work, serious disappointments, losses of loved ones and friends can contribute to depression. But regardless of its cause and the factors perpetuating it, depression is a treatable illness.
Treatment may be helpful for people who:
- Feel sad or depressed most of the time
- Feel angry or irritable most of the time
- Have difficulties concentrating
- Are anxious for no apparent reason
- Have changes in mood, appetite or sleep
- Have fatigue or a lack of motivation/energy
- Are experiencing a decline in functioning
- Cannot enjoy life
The number and type of symptoms experienced by people with major depression varies considerably from person to person. A diagnosis of major depression is indicated when symptoms last at least two weeks and affect several of the following areas.
- Persistent sad, anxious or empty mood
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or hopelessness
- Loss of interest in pleasurable activities
- Decreased energy, fatigue or feeling "slowed down"
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions
- Insomnia, especially early morning awakening, or excessive sleeping
- Decreased appetite and weight loss or increased appetite and weight gain
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Restlessness and irritability
Appropriate treatment for major depression begins with a thorough evaluation.
For More Information
For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call 847.425.6400.