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MAIN Arrow to HealthHealth Arrow to DiseaseDiseases & Conditions Arrow to Depression Depression

Every life has its highs and lows. But depending on life's circumstances the really low points may suddenly reach the black depths of depression.

Symptoms of depression typically includes feelings of chronic sadness, indecision, helplessness, or self-destructive thoughts. Depression can also express itself in physical symptoms -- such as increased fatigue, weight gain or loss, or sleep disturbances as the condition worsens.

Depression is most diagnosed in women, but that may be because men are are more likely to mask their depression in feelings of anger or frustration (or spend endless hours in a "workaholic" frenzy to mask their feelings), thereby making the condition that much more difficult to diagnosis.

Recognizing depression

anxious and depressed young womanSince depression often goes unrecognized (especially in teens and young adults), it's important to read the common signs in order to get them the help they may need.

Typical symptoms of depression usually include:

• Loss of interest in daily activities, hobbies, or social activities
• Self loathing or highly self-critical
• Sudden weight loss or weight gain
• Changes in sleep patterns such as insomnia or oversleeping
• Physical exhaustion or fatigue
• Memory loss or lack of concentration
• Engaging in compulsive or reckless behaviors
• Feelings of hopelessness with no way out of their present circumstances
• Thoughts of physical violence against others or of taking their own life.

When depression may strike

Depression may be associated with hormonal changes in teens or in women battling postpartum depression or when going through menopause. At other times, major life transitions such as grieving about the death of a loved one, the pain of divorce, or losing a job may bring on major depression.

The loneliness felt by college students away from home for the first time may result in depression. Later on in life, growing old or chronically ill without a strong support system may also bring about feelings of helplessness and depression.

Treating depression

Depending on severity of symptoms, depression can be treated with cognitive therapy (talking about problems with a professional psychologist) and/or a variety of antidepressant drugs such as Prozac, Zoloft, or Paxil.

Alternative herbal therapies such as St. John's Wort, vitamin therapies with particular focus on B vitamins that help strengthen the nervous system, or even simple changes in diet may relieve symptoms.

Although not as prevalent as depression, bipolar disorder is another form of depression commonly experienced as wide mood swings ranging from severe highs to severe lows. In place of antidepressants, a combination of mood stabilizing drugs and psychotherapy remain the main course of treatment.

A more recent area of research into depression is seasonal affective disorder (SAD), an emotional reaction to changes in season -- which is often relieved by simply turning up the wattage at home or in work areas during the darker days of winter.

also see -> Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

More about depression around the Web:

Elsewhere on the Web, learn more about depression in all its forms along with facts, information and advice on symptoms, treatments, and where to get support for the illness which can effect everyone of us, in varying degrees and at any point in our lives...

Mental Health America - Depression
- Browse a wealth of basic information on bipolar disorder and depression with tips and advice for teens, college students and in the workplace, plus how to cope with holiday depression & stress, with more on common mood disorders and postpartum depression.

Depression - Information for teens from featuring an interactive tutorial about teen depression & information on symptoms, how depression affects brain chemistry, and where to get help. In English and Spanish.

Online Depression Resources - Check out other top resources around the Web, courtesy of WebMD.

This information is intended as reference and not as medical advice.
All treatment decisions should be made by medical professionals.

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