Sooner or later, everyone gets the blues. Feeling sadness, loneliness, or grief when you go through a difficult life experience is part of being human. And most of the time, you can continue to function. You know that in time you will bounce back, and you do.
But what if you don’t bounce back? What if your feelings of sadness linger, are excessive, or interfere with your work, sleep, or recreation? What if you’re feeling fatigue or worthlessness, or experiencing weight changes along with your sadness? You may be experiencing major depression.
Stress is good for you. It keeps you alert, motivated and primed to respond to danger. As anyone who has faced a work deadline or competed in a sport knows, stress mobilizes the body to respond, improving performance. Yet too much stress, or chronic stress may lead to major depression in susceptible people.
"Like email and email spam, a little stress is good but too much is bad; you'll need to shut down and reboot," says Esther Sternberg, MD, a leading stress researcher and the chief of neuroendocrine...
Also known as clinical depression, major depressive disorder, or unipolar depression, major depression is a medical condition that goes beyond life’s ordinary ups and downs. Almost 18.8 million American adults experience depression each year, and women are nearly twice as likely as men to develop major depression. People with depression cannot simply “pull themselves together” and get better. Treatment with counseling, medication, or both is key to recovery.
Major Depression: What Are the Symptoms?
Depression shows itself in different ways. Common depression symptoms are:
Depressed mood, sadness, or an “empty” feeling, or appearing sad or tearful to others
Loss of interest or pleasure in activities you once enjoyed
Significant weight loss when not dieting, or significant weight gain (for example, more than 5% of body weight in a month)
Inability to sleep or excessive sleeping
Restlessness or irritation (irritable mood may be a symptom in children or adolescents too), or feelings of “dragging”
Fatigue or loss of energy
Feelings of worthlessness, or excessive or inappropriate guilt
Difficulty thinking or concentrating, or indecisiveness
Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or specific plan for committing suicide
Depression Treatment: When Should You Get Help?
If you have five or more of these symptoms for most of the day, nearly every day, for at least two weeks, and the symptoms are severe enough to interfere with your daily activities, you may have major depression. It’s important to talk to your doctor about treatments to start helping you feel better.