Depression is a major public health problem and a leading predictor of functional disability and mortality, affecting work and family life. Unfortunately, most adults with depression never see a mental health professional, and substantial numbers of depressed patients remain undiagnosed or undertreated.
Diagnosis of major depression requires a minimum of five symptoms, including a depressed mood with loss of interest in most or all activities. Other symptoms include insomnia or hypersomnia, a change in appetite or weight, low energy, poor concentration, thoughts of worthlessness or guilt, psychomotor retardation or agitation, and recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.
Minor depression has fewer symptoms than major depression, while dysthymic disorder is marked by a depressed mood for at least 2 years. Women are more likely to report a loss of energy, poor sleep and appetite changes and men often report irritability.
Risk factors for depression include stress, substance abuse or withdrawal, medications such as beta blockers, and chronic medical illness such as thyroid disorders, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, brain trauma, cancer and chronic inflammatory states such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.
Relationships between depression and chronic medical illnesses can be reciprocal. Diabetes and coronary artery disease can increase in patients with depression and depression can worsen the state of an existing medical condition.
Please see your family physician if any depressive symptoms occur, so you can be treated with proper counseling as needed or referred to a psychiatrist, especially if your condition is not responding to medications. Just remember: Don’t Worry, Be Happy