By John Lough
Special to The PREVIEW
Even in the best of times, depression is a major mental health issue. Recent statistics find more than 17 million Americans are affected by major depressive disorders in any given year. And in today’s period of pandemics, social distancing and widespread uncertainty about financial and health issues, it’s not surprising that depression is a growing problem.
Major depressive disorder is, however, more than simply feelings of sadness or grief. We all have times when things aren’t going quite right and the results leave us unhappy. Our sadness might be triggered by anything from problems at work to the grief brought on by the loss of someone dear to you.
The difference between that type of unhappiness and major depression is both the severity of what is being experienced and the fact that it is long-lasting. Simple sadness over life circumstances normally fades within a couple of weeks, but major depression is deeper and much longer lasting. Major depression doesn’t just have you feeling blue, but it’s a mental health illness that can directly affect your life in a number of negative ways.
Major depressive disorder can be recognized through the wide range of symptoms that often come with it. In addition to feeling sad and being in a depressed mood, major depression will often affect sleep patterns, making sleeping difficult or having someone sleep too much. Some people have little energy and feel fatigued most of the time. They may have no appetite or are eating too much. Depression can make it difficult to think clearly, to concentrate and to make decisions. In the most severe cases, there may be frequent thoughts of death or suicide, or even suicide attempts.
Clinical depression can also cause or aggravate serious health issues. It has been linked to heart issues, the worsening of chronic health conditions, experiencing headaches, and other unexplained aches and pains. But the good news is that depression is a treatable illness.
Depression will not just heal itself, but today there are a variety of therapies and medications which can provide real help. If you, or someone close to you, is facing severe depression, call your family physician or a professional counselor. If there has been talk of suicide, or a suicide attempt, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255.
Major depressive disorder is a serious but treatable health problem. Not dealing with the issue should never be an option.
“Counseling Corner” is provided by the American Counseling Association (ACA). Send your comments and questions to ACAcorner@counseling.org or visit the ACA website at www.counseling.org.