What you need to know about depression

What you need to know about depression

More than 300 million people worldwide suffer from depression, according to data from the World Health Organization.

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 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

If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988, 800-273-TALK (8255) or call 911 immediately.

Find behavioral health services and resources in Illinois or Wisconsin.

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  1. Pamela J. Miller March 22, 2017 at 11:31 am · Reply

    What is rarely mentioned is the effect of medications on mood. Anti-inflammatory drugs have always added to my depression.

  2. What should you do if a family member who is showing signs of depression, refuses to go to the doctor, dentist or any kind of therapist because of money issues. How do you help someone who won’t help themselves even a little?

  3. Dr. Hartzen,

    What do you think about the use of Clonazepam to treat anxiety, given the seizures that won’t stop & other serious risks associated with trying to wean off of it? Doctors have advised me to stay on it for life, due to the risks. Yet it is causing nightmares every night and a deficit in the amount of my REM sleep, which is important to have enough of & which researchers say can lead to a shorter life. I have a recent overnight sleep study and was put on a full facemask CPAP machine because of mild sleep apnea. I had serious sleep apnea before losing 140 lb but gained 50 lb back about 7-8 years later, 23 of which I lost recently w the help of an eating addiction outpatient program. Had lost almost 40 w them but have some interpersonal & mood problems and REGAINED 8 of those lb within the past 4 months! I am still w the program and we’re “starting over.”

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.