The American Psychiatric Association reports say that one in six people (16.6%) experience depression at some time in their life.
 

Depression is a common and serious mental illness. 

Depression is not a sign of weakness or something you can “snap out” of by “pulling yourself together.”  

 

What is Depression? 

The persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest (for more than two weeks) characterizes depression. Depression can interfere with your daily functioning, and sometimes even lead to suicide.
 

Symptoms include  

  • loss of interest in things you used to enjoy.  
  • feelings of sadness, hopelessness, guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness.  
  • loss of appetite and weight or overeating.  
  • trouble sleeping or sleeping too much. 
  •  loss of energy. 
  • difficulty concentrating.  
  • moving slowly.  
  • feeling agitated and restless.  
  • headaches, digestive problems, and pain that won’t go away despite treatment. 

 

Depression is a serious condition that needs treatment. If you’re experiencing symptoms of depression, it’s important to seek help.
 

The causes of depression are not fully understood. 

Depression can come about for several reasons. For some, it’s triggered by stressful life events such as relationship breakdown or financial problems. Others may develop depression without any apparent cause.  

 

Many factors may be involved, such as:
 

  • Psychological factors include low self-esteem, perfectionism, negative thinking, pessimistic attitude, lack of assertiveness and unrealistic expectations, and/or serious life events (such as bereavement, stress, or abuse), difficult childhood experiences, and poor coping strategies. 

 

  • Physical factors, such as long-term medical conditions (such as cancer), side effects of some medicines and low levels of vitamin D, chronic pain, chronic illness, sleep disorders, hormonal imbalances, and substance abuse. 

 

  • Social factors, such as loneliness, relationship problems, or difficulties at work or school. 

 

  • Lifestyle factors, such as drug and alcohol misuse, lack of exercise, and little exposure to sunlight. 

 

  • Genetic factors (family history). 

 

The human brain and the structures in it are constantly changing. Throughout your life, as your brain develops, is reorganized, and grows new connections with other parts of the brain, you will have periods where you feel different from how you feel now. The same applies to the world around you; your environment is constantly changing and can be a stressor to your mental health. 

 

The likelihood of developing depression can depend on several risk factors.
 

Although it’s impossible to say who will and won’t develop depression, certain things can increase a person’s risk.  

  • Personal history: Some people who have experienced abuse or trauma in their lives may be more likely to develop depression as well as other mental health issues at some point in their lives. In children, exposure to family conflict and violence is associated with an increased likelihood of later depression. Additionally, people who have had depressive episodes in the past are more likely to experience them again at a future time. 

 

  • Family history: A family history of depression puts people at a higher risk for developing it themselves. If someone has first-degree relatives (parents, siblings, children) with major depressive disorder, they’re more likely to also suffer from it themselves. 

 

  • Brain Chemistry: If there is an imbalance in certain brain chemicals called neurotransmitters which are needed for regulating moods, sleep patterns, and appetite (due to genetic factors or because of stressful events or other triggers such as trauma or the use of certain medications like corticosteroids or interferon-alpha). 

 

Although there is no sure way to prevent depression, you can take steps to reduce your risk of becoming depressed. 

 

  • REACH OUT: Talk to a friend or family member if you are feeling down. Reach out and talk with someone who makes you feel good about yourself. Some people find it helpful to turn to a spiritual or religious leader for guidance and support. 

 

  • TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF: Try your best to eat regular, healthy meals, exercise daily, get enough sleep each night, and don’t drink too much alcohol or use drugs. 

 

  • HAVE A BIT OF FUN: Find activities that make you feel calm and positive about yourself and try not to overcommit (if something seems like it will be stressful eventually, consider avoiding it). These strategies can help you feel better even when life gets difficult—and keep depression from coming back once you’ve overcome it. 

Everyone gets the blues now and again, but if your symptoms persist you should see someone.  

If you are worried about a friend or family member who is acting differently, you should talk to them about it. People who have depression may not seek help unless they are asked to do so specifically because they may not realize how they feel or that things could get better. Talk to us @ (718) 971-1142.