by Marie Miguel

Marie-Miguel_0.jpgMarie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade; covering a variety of health related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.

Everyone feels sad once in a while but if you feel sad for more than two weeks, you may have a condition called clinical depression. This is a very common mental health disorder that can affect anyone of any age at any time but is most common in women in their late 20s and early 30s. In fact, it is so common that over 15 million people in the United States suffer from some kind of depression every year. That is about 7% of the population and approximately 70% of those with depression are women. 

Symptoms of Depression

Although there are various types of depression and some have different symptoms, the most common signs include:

  • Feelings of sadness that last longer than two weeks
  • Losing interest in activities you usually like
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Appetite loss or increased appetite
  • Insomnia or sleeping more than usual
  • Confusion or memory loss
  • Lack of concentration
  • Feeling guilty or hopeless
  • Extreme tiredness and loss of energy
  • Having a hard time making decisions
  • Aggravation or anxiety
  • Thinking about harming yourself or others

Types of Depression

Some of the different types of depression include:

  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which only affects people during certain months of the year (usually winter) thought to be caused by lack of sunlight.
  • Bipolar disorder causes highs and lows in personality such as being overly excitable for days or weeks at a time and periods of debilitating depression.
  • Post-partum (perinatal) depression is a condition that affects mothers after childbirth thought to be caused by hormones.
  • Persistent depressive disorder is a severe case of depression that lasts for more than two years.

Why Are Women Affected More Often Than Men?

Nobody knows for sure why women are more susceptible to depression than men but it has been speculated that it could be hormones or genetics. Some of the most commonly cited sources for depression include:

  • Genetics
  • Chemical imbalance in the brain
  • Environmental issues such as abuse, poverty, and neglect
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Alcohol or drug abuse

Treatments for Depression

One of the most common treatments for depression is antidepressant medication such as Prozac or Zoloft. However, some experts believe that this should be used as a last resort. Other treatments that have been known to be successful include:

  • Therapy such as psychotherapy, interpersonal therapy, cognitive therapy, or light therapy for SAD
  • Physical exercise such as jogging or walking
  • Yoga is a more concentrated form of exercise
  • Meditation can calm your body and clear your head
  • Support groups are a great way to feel better by talking to others in similar situations
  • Keeping a journal can help by expressing your thoughts when you do not want to talk about it

What You Can Do

If you or someone you know has symptoms of depression that last more than two weeks, you need to talk to someone. You can reach out to friends or family, your family physician, or a therapist. If you do not have a therapist already, there are plenty of websites online that can help you find one. Many now offer online therapy that can be even better for patients with depression because sometimes it is just so difficult to get up and get out of the house.

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