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.
Symptoms of depression include:
- Loss of enjoyment from things that were once pleasurable
- Loss of energy
- Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
- Difficulty concentrating
- 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
- Attempting suicide
Depression is treatable. Treatment may include antidepressant medication, professional counseling such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and other forms of psychotherapy, 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.
In addition, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has a treatment locator and crisis hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).