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.
Serotonin acts as a neurotransmitter, a type of chemical that helps relay signals from one area of the brain to another. Although serotonin is manufactured in the brain, where it performs its primary functions, some 90% of our serotonin supply is found in the digestive tract and in blood platelets.
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 their full effect, although they often begin to show signs of working 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.