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Depression

You’re not just down in the dumps. You’re not simply singin’ the blues. Depression is no laughing matter (although laughing might make you feel better). A disorder of the brain, depression is similar to other chronic diseases: If left untreated, it can last a long time, making it hard to enjoy – or simply do – your day-to-day activities.

Somewhere around 20 million Americans suffer from depression. It can begin at any age. If you or a loved one is depressed, these signs and symptoms may sound familiar:

  • Sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings that last
  • Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism, guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • Irritability or restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed, including sex
  • Fatigue
  • Trouble concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Overeating or losing your appetite
  • Thoughts of suicide or attempting suicide
  • Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that don’t go away, even with treatment

No single culprit has a corner on depression. Depression can run in families, for example. And, people with pessimistic or dependent personalities may be more vulnerable. Trauma or a major illness, loss of a loved one, a poor relationship, or major stress can also trigger it. Some medications may contribute, especially if you’ve taken them for a long time.  If you suspect one of your medications, you can discuss this with our pharmacy staff.

Women and men tend to experience depression differently. Twice as many women as men are diagnosed. But this number could be skewed because women are more likely to seek treatment. Life cycles and hormones can contribute to depression in women. For example, women may experience premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Or they may have depression following pregnancy or heading into menopause. Women tend to talk more openly about their feelings of despair, for instance, while men may simply report changes in energy or interests. Men may display risky behaviors or workaholism. Men are more likely to turn to alcohol and drugs, becoming irritable and angry, sometimes even abusive. Although more women attempt suicide than men, men are successful more often.

Are you or a loved one experiencing depression? Know that treatment can be very effective. Often the best approach is a combination of medication and talk therapy. This can leave you feeling much better soon. But know that it can take up to 12 weeks to experience the full benefits of antidepressants. The most commonly prescribed ones are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These include Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, and Celexa. If they are ineffective, your doctor may prescribe others. Our pharmacy staff can explain their pros and cons.

Researchers are continually uncovering other promising approaches for treating depression. Though not thoroughly studied just yet, brain stimulation and complementary treatments such as St. John’s wort, SAM-e, and Omega-3 fatty acids help some people.   Consult your doctor before starting any treatment.

 

 

SOURCES

  1. MedlinePlus website. “Depression.” http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/depression.html
  2. National Institute of Mental Health website. “Depression.” http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression/complete-index.shtml
  3. Mayo Clinic website. “Depression (major depression)” http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/depression/DS00175
  4. http://www.webmd.com/depression/
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