Everyone gets the blues now and then. In fact, it\'s perfectly normal to feel sad and discouraged at times. It\'s also quite appropriate to feel grief after a loss. However, when a low mood doesn\'t go away, the person may be suffering from clinical depression. In other words, depression that is serious enough to require treatment. It is one of the most painful, but also most common and treatable, of all mental illnesses. According to the American Psychiatric Association, one in four women and one in ten men can expect to develop this illness at some point in their lives. The good news is that at least 80 percent of people with clinical depression can now be treated successfully with medications, psycho therapy, or both. In order to benefit from treatment, however, you must recognize the illness. Unfortunately, too many people still regard depression as something you just have to live with. Others fail to seek help because of the stigma attached to mental illness or the lack of access to mental health care. As a result, two-thirds of the Americans who experience a depressive illness fail to get treatment.
Stress is the body\'s response to change. Since change is unavoidable, stress is a normal part of life. However, when stress is severe or sustained, it can sometimes trigger depression. This is particularly true of stress due to a loss, such as the death of a loved one, the end of a relationship, or the loss of a job. But even positive changes, such as getting married, can lead to stress. Some things that a stressful life change would include one death of a spouse or close family member, marital separation or divorce, jail term, personal injury or illness (mostly in males), being fired from work or retirement. In the past, the term "reactive depression" was used for depression that had no obvious outside cause and thus seemed to arise from some biological factor inside the person. Today it is thought that both types of depression can be treated with antidepressant drugs. However, psychotherapy may also be useful when stress plays a role in causing or worsening depression. A skilled therapist can help the depressed person pinpoint sources of stress and identify ways of coping.
Major Depression
During an episode of major depression, an person may find it almost impossible to carry on with daily life. Such basic activities include working, sleeping, and eating. Sometimes this happens just once in a person\'s lifetime, but more often the episodes recur. A person with major depression is depressed for most of the day, nearly every day. This lasts for at least two weeks and is a marked change from the way the person was before. In some people, it may show up as a loss of interest or pleasure in almost all activities. In children and adolescents, it may show up as irritability.
Major or depression can begin at any age, but it most often strikes for the first time during the late 20\'s. The symptoms usually appear over the course of days or weeks. An untreated episode typically lasts six to eight months or longer, but treatment can shorten it. Among people who have recurring episodes, the illness follows varied paths. Some people have episodes separated by many years, with long periods of returning to their usual selves in between.
Major depression can take a terrible toll in human suffering. In the worst case, it can even lead to suicide. It\'s estimated that 15 percent of people with major depression take their own lives. That\'s why proper treatment is vital. In the most extreme situations, it can spell the difference between life and frequent episodes as they grow older.
Older Adults
Depression is less common in older adults than in younger ones, but it still affects as many as 30 percent of people over age 64. Unfortunately, its symptoms often go unrecognized in older people. Yet being depressed isn\'t normal part of aging. It\'s an illness, one that can be treated at any age. Some common signs of depression in older are persistent sad or empty mood, preoccupation with health concerns, decreased appetite, trouble sleeping, lack of energy, feelings of uselessness, guilt over things that happened years ago.
One symptom that is more common is older adults than younger ones