How to Handle Depression

Depression can strike anyone, from children to the elderly. Women feel its weight two to three times more frequently than men. It is most common in those between the ages of eighteen and forty-four. You should be careful not to confuse this disease with ordinary grief or disappointment. The two major warning signals of true depression are:

1. Feeling sad, "blue," down in the dumps.

2. Diminished interest in pleasurable activities.

 If either of these indicators are present, you should also look for:

  • Weight loss or gain of five to twenty pounds
  • Sleeplessness or excessive sleeping
  • Slowed body movements or thought processes
  • Fatigue
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Impaired concentration, indecision, or forgetfulness
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Either one of these first two symptoms coupled with any four of the last seven means you probably have major depression.

The Alternative 

Depression can be a dreadful disease.  However, it is one of the most easily treated emotional ailments. As Dr. Philip Muskin states, "There is no reason for anyone's brain to hold them prisoner." Unfortunately, the stigma attached to psychiatric disorders prevents some from seeking help. Once the depressed person gets past that stigma and opens himself to treatment, he has an 85% chance of improvement. 

How to Alleviate Depression 

Sometimes the biggest dilemma facing newly diagnosed depressives is choosing the kind of treatment you should get. If the depression is mild, you will probably be successful with antidepressant medication or short-term psychotherapy. Make the best choice for you, and try it for several weeks. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that medicine typically began relieving symptoms of depression in four to six weeks, therapy in six to eight weeks. Medicine is also less expensive and more often paid for by insurance plans.

For moderate to severe depression, the growing consensus is to get medicine right away. Antidepressants seem to work by stopping the brain from reabsorbing and neutralizing transmitter chemicals so fast. Antidepressants are not mood elevators or tranquilizers. If you are depressed, they will probably make you well. They are not known to be addictive.

Some people who have suffered major depression are grateful they experienced it. They were able to make major, positive changes in their lives as a result. If you think you are a victim of depression, don’t ignore it. You will get better much faster if you treat the condition rather than hope it goes away on its own. Don’t allow depression to make you miss out on life’s rewards.