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MSFC Health Information - Newsletter

DEPRESSION: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

The festive holiday season is fast approaching. This time of year as well as other occasions and incidents which occur throughout the year, may bring on the intruder "depression."

At some time, almost everyone experiences some form of depression. In fact, depression is a widespread mental health condition as well as a significant social and personal problem. Depression experiences may range from mild to severe. The most common symptom of depression is the inability to get free of the "blues" and "depressed moods." You may feel sad, cry--or you may be unable to cry. You may be thinking, "I'm unhappy and I always feel gloomy."

Clinical depression has two major classifications: biological (with roots in body chemistry) and psychological (based on emotional factors.)

Physical symptoms tend to accompany biological depression: Slower response times, appetite or weight change, sleep problems, loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities (including sex). Depression, therefore, produces a number of symptoms that affect actions, feelings, thoughts, and body processes.

Symptoms associated with psychological depression include: Feelings of despair, lack of self-confidence and self-worth, negative thinking, cognitive distortions, perceiving and focusing on the negative, indecisiveness, thoughts of suicide.

The list of symptoms of both types of depression is long, but if you are experiencing three or more of these symptoms, or contemplating suicide, you are urged to consult a qualified helper immediately. Take the following quiz and check your results.

  1. I don't enjoy the things I used to.......... Yes No
  2. I feel hopeless about the future............ Yes No
  3. I feel worthless and not needed............. Yes No
  4. I am gaining or losing weight............... Yes No
  5. I get tired for no reason................... Yes No
  6. I am sleeping too little or too much........ Yes No
  7. I feel downhearted, blue, and sad........... Yes No
  8. I think about killing myself................ Yes No

If you answered "yes" to five or more questions and have experienced these symptoms for several weeks, you probably suffer from depression and should seek professional help. If you answered "yes" to question No. 8, you should find help immediately, regardless of your other answers.

AS A REMINDER:
Depression is an illness, not a weakness. Treatment is available and may include medicine or therapy or both. New and very effective drugs have been developed in the last decade to treat depression. If medication is used along with therapy, the results can be long lasting!