What you need to know about depression
So what’s the first step for someone who thinks they are suffering from this condition?
“A good starting point for the person who is feeling depressed is to let someone know what is going on,” says Dr. Marla Hartzen, Director of Psychiatry Training at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill. “While this may be a psychiatrist or therapist, it does not need to be. A primary care provider is a wonderful resource.”
Dr. Hartzen also stresses the importance of an understanding that depression is both very common and very treatable. “There should be no more embarrassment about having depression than there is for having high blood pressure. If we perpetuate a stigma for the former condition and keep it hidden, then we lose the important opportunity to normalize the experience and support each other when it occurs.”
“Both psychotherapy and medications are effective treatments.” says Dr. Hartzen. “One of the great pleasures of my work is to see people as they are starting to feel better. The frustrating piece is knowing that there are so many people who have this condition but who don’t seek out treatment.”
Unsure if you or a loved one is living with depression?
Dr. Hartzen says having five or more of the following nine symptoms can assist in making a diagnosis:
- Feeling depressed most of the day for two weeks or longer
- Change in appetite
- Change in sleep
- Loss of energy/motivation
- Trouble concentrating
- Feeling excessively guilty or worthless
- Loss of interest and or pleasure in previously enjoyed activities
- Changes in movement – most commonly a slowing/loss of animation
- Having thoughts about death or suicide
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