Don’t Overlook Depression
Do you feel sad, empty, and hopeless much of the day? Are you having trouble sleeping, eating, or functioning? Have you lost interest in things that you used to enjoy? These are all signs of depression, a medical illness that aﬀects how you feel, the way you think and how you act.
Depression often goes undiagnosed and untreated as people tend to downplay the symptoms or blame them on other things. While it’s normal to feel sad and have a lack of energy occasionally, these feelings shouldn’t persist for more than a few days. Right now, with the cold darkness of winter and the pandemic raging, depression symptoms are on the rise. Depression is treatable and should not be overlooked as a possible cause of feeling sad and hopeless.
Symptoms of depression can vary from person to person, but anyone who has been experiencing ﬁve or more of the following symptoms for more than two weeks should contact their health care provider.
· Persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" mood · Sleeping too much or too little · Change in appetite resulting in weight gain or loss · Loss of pleasure and interest in activities once enjoyed · Irritability, restlessness · Crying too often or too much · Aches and pains that don’t go away when treated · Diﬃculty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions · Fatigue or loss of energy · Feeling guilty, hopeless, or worthless · Thoughts of death or suicide
Caregivers in particular need to be aware of the risk of depression. According to a survey by the Family Caregiver Alliance, caregivers experience depression at twice the rate of the general population. The added responsibility and stress of caring for a loved one, especially during a pandemic, can have a negative impact on a caregiver’s health if steps are not taken to stay healthy. If depression goes untreated it can lead to increased emotional and physical problems as well as aﬀect your ability to care for your loved one.
If diagnosed with depression, treatment usually includes medication, counseling, or a combination of the two. You can also practice these coping mechanisms to relieve symptoms of depression.
· Communicate your feelings with friends, family, a support group, or mental health professional. · Set limits – don’t try to do more than you can handle. Ask for help. · Take care of your body – eat well, get enough sleep, and exercise regularly · Learn ways to manage stress and relax. Schedule time each day to do something for yourself. · Maintain a good sense of humor. Find humor in daily events.
Knowing the symptoms of depression and understanding ways to reduce your risk of depression can help you stay healthy. Don’t overlook the seriousness of depression. If you or someone you know exhibits the signs of depression, seek medical help. Life can be enjoyable! 16
This article can also be read in our Mauston office Newsletter.