The National Institute of Mental Health estimate that in any give year about 20.9 million -- roughly 9.5 percent -- American adults suffer from some form of depression or depressive illness. Women are twice as likely to suffer from depression, and men are less likely to admit they suffer from depression.
But what is depression? Depression and depressive illnesses affect the body and mind often affecting a person's normal functions even causing pain and suffering, according to NIMH's web site, www.nimh.hih.gov.
Depression has several symptoms including feeling hopeless, pessimistic, fatigue, irritability, changes in appetite, persistent sadness as well as physical ailments, according to the web site.
Some with depressive illnesses may have thoughts of death and suicide. NIMH said suicide rates for men is about four times the rate for women; the number of men committing, attempting or thinking about suicide increases in men over the age of 70.
There are many things that can cause depression, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' womenshealth.gov web site. Depression can be genetic or the result of a chemical imbalance. Stress, medical conditions and physical changes can also lead to depression.
For the individual who is suffering from depression, there is hope and steps they can take. NIMH said the very first step is for an individual to have a physical examination by a physician. They recommend a physical because there are some medical conditions, including some infections that have symptoms very similar to depression ailments.
If a physical cause is ruled out, the next step is to have a psychological evaluation by a mental health professional such as a psychologist or a psychiatrist, the site said. In this evaluation, one should talk about the symptoms they have experienced, how long they have been experiencing the symptoms, and the severity.
Patients will want to tell the mental health professional if they have had bouts with depression symptoms before.
Treatment can occur in different ways. Depression patients may be prescribed antidepressants, receive therapy, or a combination of the both, according to the site.
Outside the standard treatments, NIMH points to several ways an individual can work through their depression. The first tip is to understand that depression won't just go away and it is a day-to-day process.
Individuals coping with depression can do a number of things to help with depression:
Set realistic goals
Do what you can; break big tasks down into smaller projects
Be with people and have someone to confide in -- don't keep feelings inside and secretive
Participate in activities, whether they be hobbies, going to the movies or getting involved in religious or social activities
Expect mood to improve gradually
Let family and friends help
There are number or online resources that have information not only on depression, but the different types of depression and on the various medications available.
Depression.com offers visitors a chance to understand depression and hear from people who have dealt with depression; it also includes an assessment worksheet that one can fill out and take to their physician. GlaxoSmithKline, a pharmaceutical company, funds and maintain the web site.
Additional links can be found at the NIMH web site and womenhealth.gov page. And if you think you are suffering from depression, contact your health care provider.
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