Depression, as a medical condition, is more than just the blues. The illness affects mood, thinking and behavior and often goes unrecognized even by those afflicted.
“[Depression] is an illness, not a personal failing,” says Dr. Matthew Meyer, medical director of Laureate Psychiatric Clinic and Hospital. “Early on in the illness, people may notice that they have more down days, have more trouble concentrating and are more easily overwhelmed by stress. As the illness progresses, people experience a persistently sad mood, poor energy and concentration, loss of interest in activities that they usually enjoy, excessive guilt and changes in sleep and appetite.”
It is important that those living with depression acknowledge it and seek support, he advises.
“The shame and helplessness that many people experience while depressed can be helped by talking with someone they trust – a friend, family member, clergy or physician,” says Meyer. “Someone who is in the midst of a severe episode of depression may have frequent thoughts that life is not worth living or even thoughts about ending their own life.”
Like many other medical conditions, help is available. Depression is treatable.
“Educate yourself about the treatment options that are available,” says Meyer. “Medication, psychotherapy or a combination of both can lessen symptoms and improve a person’s quality of life.”