Depression: It's much more common than most people think

Depression is a very common, yet treatable, medical illness that can affect anyone. About one in every 20 Americans get depressed every year. Depression is not a sign that someone is weak or has a flaw. Sadly, many persons with depression do not tell their doctor how they are feeling. But there are treatments for depression, and most people with depression can begin to feel better in several weeks when they are treated. Talking with a doctor about how they are feeling is the first important step toward getting better.

Depression is more than feeling sad following a loss or when having hard times. Depression is not caused by personal weakness, laziness or lack of willpower.

Depression is a medical illness (just like diabetes and high blood pressure are medical illnesses) that affects your thoughts, feelings, health and behaviors. People with major depression experience a number of symptoms all day, nearly every day, for at least 2 weeks.

Symptoms of depression include:

¥ Feeling sad, blue or down in the dumps

¥ Loss of interest in things you usually enjoy

¥ Feeling slowed down or restless

¥ Having trouble sleeping or sleeping too much

¥ Loss of energy or feeling tired all the time

¥ Having an increase or decrease in appetite or weight

¥ Having problems concentrating, thinking, remembering or making decisions

¥ Feeling worthless or guilty

¥ Having thoughts of death or suicide

What causes depression?

Depression seems to be related to a number of things. It has been connected with chemical imbalances in the brain. Depression also seems to be genetic (to run in families), though it doesn't happen to everyone who has it in his or her family. Depression can be linked to events in your life, such as the death of someone you love, a divorce or job loss. Taking certain kinds of medicine, abusing drugs or alcohol, or having other illnesses or diseases can also lead to depression.

What can be done about depression?

The good news is that depression is treatable. Your primary care doctor can effectively treat depression through supportive counseling, medicine and/or refer you to a mental health professional for counseling. Talking with your doctor about how you are feeling is a very important first step. It is important that you get the counseling and take the medicine you need to treat the illness.

Managing your depression:

Things people can do to help themselves:

¥ Exercise

¥ Make time for fun activities

¥ Spend time with people who can support you

¥ Practice relaxing

¥ Have simple goals

¥ Eat balanced nutritious meals

¥ Take the antidepressant medication as directed by your doctor

¥ Contact your doctor if you are having symptoms of depression, or if your condition doesn't improve while you are being treated

¥ Get medical help right away if you have thoughts of harming yourself

If you notice symptoms of depression, it is very important to contact your doctor as soon as possible. Remember, depression is treatable. For the Tuba City Area, you can make an appointment with your doctor or contact the walk-in clinic at 928-283-2501.

(TCRHCC Wellness Commit-tee is a group of health care providers, administrators, and community members whose aim is to promote health and wellness. Its members Tuba City Regional Health Care Corporation Wellness Committee members are Michelle Archuleta, Geri Bahe-Hernandez, RN; Daniel Borrero, Doctor of Dental Surgery; Jane Dougherty-Lake, Registered Dietitian; Kristin Graziano, Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine; Diana Hu, MD; Joann Kim, MD; Amanda Leib, MD; Katie Magee, MD; Sandra Magera, Registered Dietitian; Evie Maho; Sue Newman,Physical Threapist; Jane Oski, MD; and Dorothy Sanderson, MD.)

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