Nearly 18.8 million Americans over age 18 suffer from major depression. Unfortunately, most people never seek treatment. Left undiagnosed and untreated, depression can worsen, lasting for years and causing untold suffering, and possibly even result in suicide.
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...
Loss of enjoyment from things that were once pleasurable
Loss of energy
Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
Difficulty making decisions
Insomnia or excessive sleep
Stomachache and digestive problems
Sexual problems (for example, decreased sex drive)
Aches and pains (such as recurrent headaches)
A change in appetite causing weight loss or gain
Thoughts of death or suicide
Depression is treatable. Treatment may include antidepressant medication, professional counseling such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, or a combination of the two. It sometimes takes several attempts to find the medication and type of counseling that work best for you. It can take one to three months for medications to take effect, although they often work more quickly. You and your health professional will work together to find the right treatment.
Depression carries a high risk of suicide. Anybody who expresses suicidal thoughts or intentions should be taken very, very seriously. Do not hesitate to call your doctor or a local suicide hotline immediately or 911.