Depression is a serious thing and statistics show it affects more people that we may realize. In fact, 10% of adults in the United States have a history with depression at some point or another. What’s worse is that the same studies show there is typically not enough done to treat depression even when it is identified in patients. This has to change and change starts with all of us.

So what exactly is depression?

Depression is a mental disorder, a chemical imbalance in the brain that affects everything a person does – emotional swings, deep bouts of guilt and anxiety and a low sense of self-worth. It affects everything from work and school life to home life and relationships. In many cases, it can end in suicide.

People with depression have an empty feeling, even during times of triumph and happiness. There’s a feeling of hopelessness, guilt and deep sadness, of isolation and pessimism. Sometimes these symptoms are associated with insomnia and forgetfulness or even an overall lack of energy.

So if you can identify these symptoms in yourself or a loved one, it can be possible to seek help. People with depression can sometimes be hard to diagnose because at some point in our daily lives, we all feel hopeless or guilty or down. The key is that depression is more severe and these signs are long lasting and reoccurring, often for no reason.

If someone’s demeanor and overall attitude and outlook in life changes drastically, it may be time to investigate what’s going on. That person may be battling depression, especially if he or she is not normally like this. It’s best to compare behavior to what you know best about that person and identify any drastic changes. In many cases, the person with depression may not be open to talk about it, but still needs help anyway.

Because depression leads to suicide in many cases, it’s always better to err on the side of caution. You never know who desperately needs help that you can offer. It’s best to offer support, even if the person denies any need for help. It’s also important not to push or blame or tell the person to simply, “look on the bright side” or “cheer up.” Often, these clichés only do more harm than good. If all else fails, it’s certainly helpful to seek the help of professionals or depression hotlines.

Depression is serious business. It takes only one decision to end a life and it takes many more than one person to save a life. So let’s all do our part in this battle against depression.


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