Everyone experiences stress, sadness and anxiety from time to time – it's part of life. These feelings often happen when you lose a job, children move away from home, during divorce, with a death in the family, or during retirement. But when changes in mood and behavior interfere with one’s ability to work, sleep, eat, and enjoy once pleasurable activities, it could be a sign of depression.
On National Depression Screening Day, Thursday, Oct. 10, Silver Cross Hospital Behavioral Health Services will offer a free, anonymous questionnaire assessing risk for mood and anxiety disorders and a confidential meeting with a behavioral health professional. In the Silver Cross Hospital Conference Center at 4 p.m. Dr. Shivkumar Pandian, psychiatrist, will discuss the seriousness of depression and treatments available. Family members are welcome. For more information, or to register to attend the program, call 1-888-660-HEAL (4325) or visit www.silvercross.org.
“Everyone experiences periods of sadness now and then. However, if these feelings last more than a couple of weeks or interfere with daily life, a person may be suffering from clinical depression,” says Dr. Shivkumar Pandian, psychiatrist at Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox. “Clinical depression can cause a person’s overall health to decline because they may not be motivated to make healthy choices. For this reason, it is imperative to seek help.”
Research shows that people who suffer from clinical depression face a higher risk for contracting certain illnesses, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).
One reason for this, the NIMH says, is that depression can lead to poor physical and mental functioning; a person with depression is less likely to follow a healthy lifestyle that prevents some diseases. Also, if a person with depression has a chronic medical condition that requires a certain diet or medication, the depression may make it harder for him or her to follow the treatment plan.
The causes of depression are not always known. Research shows the tendency to develop depression may be inherited and that an uneven balance of naturally occurring mood-influencing chemicals in the brain can play a role. People who have a poor self-image, who view themselves negatively, or who are easily overwhelmed by life challenges may be more likely than others to experience depression. A serious loss, chronic illness, difficult relationship, or unwelcome change can trigger depression.
The two major symptoms of depression include a depressed mood and an inability to enjoy life.
Depression may also include:
- Fatigue & sleep disturbances (sleeping too much or difficulty sleeping)
- Change in appetite (eating too much or too little, sometimes weight gain or weight loss)
- Poor concentration
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
- General irritability
· Thoughts of death or suicide; suicide attempt
- Vague physical aches and pains, such as stomachaches and headaches
- Excessive crying
Treatment for depression can include counseling, medications, or both. If you take medication, you should begin to feel better within 4 to 6 weeks. Counseling can give you support and strategies for coping and learning new ways to think about situations in your life. With the treatment of depression, recovery is the rule -- not the exception.
Share your treatment plan with people close to you. Talk to friends and relatives and explain what you are going through.
Take medications exactly they way they are prescribed. You may be tempted to stop taking your medications too soon. However, it is important to keep taking them until your doctor says to stop, even if you begin feeling better.
Report any unusual medication side effects to your doctor, especially if the side effects interfere with your ability to function.
Keep all follow-up appointments you have with your doctor or therapist. Do not miss an appointment, even if you are feeling better that day.