According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), when they screened U.S. adults for depression, they found that 1 in 10 reported that they were currently depressed. It is a condition that adversely affects people, even more than most people realize. Depression can involve much more than just feeling sad; it can also undermine your ability to manage tasks and even impact your physical health.
“One of the major problems with depression is that most people don’t recognize that that’s what they are experiencing,” explains Dr. Gary Kaplan, founder of The Kaplan Center for Integrative Medicine, located in McLean, Va. “Once we know that someone is depressed, we can take an integrative approach to set them on the path to wellness. But they need to take that first step of coming into our office.”
Depression symptoms, duration and severity will vary, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Not everyone who is depressed experiences all of the same symptoms. Some of the most common symptoms of depression include:
• Persistent sadness or feeling “empty”
• Feeling hopeless, guilty, worthless, and/or pessimistic
• Restlessness and irritability
• Loss of interest in normal activities
• Decreased energy or increased fatigue
• Difficulty making decisions or concentrating
• Excessive sleeping or increased insomnia
• A loss of appetite or a pattern of over-eating
• Suicidal thoughts and attempts
• Aches, pains, cramps and other conditions that do not ease with treatment
In addition to undermining a person’s quality of life, depression can also impact an individual’s physical health. NIMH reports that depression often co-exists with other illnesses, and that such illnesses may precede the depression, cause it, or be a consequence of it.
Furthermore, the CDC reports that untreated depression can adversely impact the outcome of such chronic conditions as asthma, cancer, diabetes, obesity, arthritis, and cancer. They also report that depression can result in short-term disability, decreased productivity, and an increase in work absenteeism.
“From anxiety disorders to substance abuse to physical illness, depression makes everything worse, and vice versa,” adds Dr. Kaplan. “Improving your quality of life and changing your health for the better may be as easy as addressing your depression. Once that is taken care of, many other things fall right in line.”
Those who know someone who is depressed, or feel they may have symptoms of depression themselves, should contact a physician for an evaluation.