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  Mental Health and Depression

In any given year, 9.5 percent of the population suffers from a depressive illness. Depressive illnesses often interfere with normal functioning and cause pain and suffering not only to those who have the disorder, but to those who care about them, as well.

Mental Health and Depression
Mental Health and Depression


Not everyone who is depressed or manic experiences the same symptoms. Some people experience a few symptoms, some many, and the severity of the symptoms varies with the individual.

Some symptoms of Depression include persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" mood; feelings of hopelessness, pessimism; feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness; loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities, including sex; decreased energy, fatigue; difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions; insomnia, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping; appetite and/or weight loss or overeating and weight gain; thoughts of death or suicide; suicide attempts; restlessness, irritability; and persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain.

Some symptoms of Mania are abnormal or excessive elation; unusual irritability; decreased need for sleep; grandiose notions; increased talking; racing thoughts; increased sexual desire; markedly increased energy; poor judgment; and inappropriate social behavior.

Some types of depression run in families, particularly bipolar disorder. Apparently, though, additional factors, possibly stresses at home, work, or school, are involved in its onset, as well. Whether inherited or not, major depressive disorder is often associated with changes in brain structures function. People who have low self-esteem are also prone to depression.

Certain medications as well as some medical conditions such as a viral infection can cause the same symptoms as depression, and a doctor should rule out these possibilities through examination, interview, and lab tests. If a physical cause for the depression is ruled out, a psychological evaluation should be done.

A good diagnostic testing will include a complete history of symptoms, whether the patient had them before and, if so, whether the symptoms were treated, and what treatment was given. The doctor should ask about alcohol and drug use, and if the patient has thoughts about death or suicide. The doctor will also ask questions about whether other family members have had a depressive illness and, if treated, what treatments they may have received and which were effective.

Depending on the patient's diagnosis, and how severe the symptoms are, the therapist may prescribe medication and/or one of the several forms of psychotherapy that have proven effective for depression.

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