Depression is a medical illness that involves both the mind and the body. It affects your thoughts, feelings and behavior. Depression is a more common disorder than many people realize, in fact depression has been referred to as the “common cold” of mental illness. About 12% of men and 20% of women will experience a major depressive episode in their life-times. Additionally, 50% of people who have experienced one depressive episode are vulnerable to experiencing another.
While the exact cause of depression is not known, researchers believe that it is caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. Some people seem to be vulnerable to depression because of their genetic make-up. In addition, stressful life events, such as the loss of a job, divorce, or loss of a loved one can trigger a depressive episode. Depression usually results from a combination of factors. It is important to keep in mind that depression is not a weakness, but a sign that there is an imbalance in your life. It is a serious medical condition, not just a “bad mood” that you can snap out of spontaneously. It is very important to take steps to reduce your risk for depression and to find good treatment when depression occurs.
Symptoms of depression vary from one person to another and include: sadness, irritability, a sense of hopelessness, loss of interest in activities, loss of pleasure, negative thinking, difficulty sleeping and fatigue. If you are feeling depressed, the world can seem dark and gloomy. You may experience difficulty getting out of bed and have trouble doing normal day to day activities. When depression becomes severe, it can even cause you to feel that life isn’t worth living.