Depression: a common, serious, treatable illness

Everyone feels sad, blue, down in the dumps or unhappy.  These feelings usually pass within a couple of days, but if these feelings last longer than a couple of weeks, you may have depression.  It is not something that you can simply “snap out of.”

Depression is a common, but serious, illness. Some people feel ashamed to admit that they are depressed and do not seek treatment. Depression is not a weakness; it is an illness like diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease. If you have those illnesses, you go to your doctor and get treatment.  So the same should apply for depression.

Men often experience depression differently than women. Women will have feelings of sadness, worthlessness, and excessive guilt; men are more likely to feel very tired, irritable, lose interest in once-pleasurable activities such as sex, and have difficulty sleeping.  Men are also more likely to self-medicate with alcohol or drugs.  Or men will throw themselves into their work to avoid talking about their depression.

Women are more likely to attempt suicide, and men are more likely to die by suicide.

Most types of depression are treated with talk therapy and antidepressants.  Antidepressants primarily work on brain chemicals called neurotransmitters, especially serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. Low levels of these chemicals are associated with depression and sadness.

There are many types of depression so it is especially important to see your doctor so you get the right diagnoses and the correct treatment.