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Dealing With Depression

Everyone has sad feelings at one time or another, but when the sadness continues, and a sense of hopelessness sets in, it’s time to get help.

Symptoms of depressions include (but are not limited to):
• constant sadness
• irritability / anger
• hopelessness
• feeling worthless or guilty for no reason
• loss of interest in favorite activities
• trouble sleeping
• low energy or fatigue
• significant weight change
• difficulty concentrating

Depression is not caused by personal failure, nor can a person who is depressed just “snap out of it”.   The cause is generally a combination of genetic, biochemical, environmental, and psychological factors.

Depression can be experienced by men or women, young or old, rich or poor.  It is no respecter of persons. It is estimated that 38 million adults in the U.S. have experienced depression at some time in their lives.

The good news is that it can be treated.  There are a variety of good medications that make significant differences in the way a depressed person feels. If you are having symptoms of depression, it is important to seek help as soon as possible.  Waiting to get help will not make the depression just go away.
There is no reason to feel ashamed or embarrassed about becoming depressed, any more than you would feel ashamed or embarrassed if you caught the flu.  The sooner you seek help, the sooner you will begin to feel better.

Describe your symptoms to your physician; he or she will recommend the proper medication in the proper dose.   As with other medications, you will need to take the medication as directed in order to achieve the best result.  Do not self-medicate or stop taking the medication abruptly without contacting your doctor. Medications used to treat depression should be closely monitored by your health care team and always let them know what other medications you may be taking.

In addition, you may want to speak with a counselor who is knowledgeable about depression,   its symptoms, and treatments.  Research has shown that the best treatment for depression is a combination of talk therapy and medications. Some preventive actions that you can take are:

a.  Remember depression is a thought and we can control our thoughts.  Try to think your way out of the negative emotion rather than allowing it to overcome you.

b. If you are experiencing any medical conditions or taking medications, call you health care to determine any possible physical conditions that might be contributing to or aggravating your depressive symptoms.

c.  Poor dietary habits may also be a contributing factor in the aggravation of depressive symptoms.  Talk to a nutritionist or other knowledgeable person who can help you make healthier food choices.

d.  Choose to make everyday important by pre-planning your daily activities. Especially find ways to nourish your mind and your body. For example, take a daily walk, spend some time in meditation or praying, find activities you enjoy that you can share with others, spend some time playing with children, volunteer your talents to a charitable organization, read a good novel, etc.   Whatever you choose to do, make it something you enjoy.

e.  Most importantly, reach out to others. Share your thoughts with someone you trust and build up a support system of friends.

f.  Be aware of triggers that can exacerbate your symptoms such as becoming overwhelmed or stressed by your circumstances or the pressures of daily living.  Some of these triggers can include such things as:
    1.  Having to do something you don’t want to do, i.e., getting divorced or being separated from the people you love;
    2.  Guilt can often be a debilitating trigger. Find someone to help you process you feelings and put them into a proper perspective;
    3. Anniversaries and/or reminders of traumatic events often trigger an increase in your symptoms.
    4.  Changes in daily routines or overloading yourself with too many things to do are also important triggers.
There are many other triggers that people have that can aggravate their depressive symptoms.

If depression is severe and goes untreated, it can lead to suicide.  This is the reason why it is so important to seek treatment as soon as depressive symptoms appear. 

Remember, BE PREPARED. Make better choices in your life and reach out to others. Most of all, know when to seek professional help and then go get it.

"But they... shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles."

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