Early intervention is key to depression treatment

| October 25, 2012 | 1 Comment

Sabriya Dennis
U.S. Army Public Health Command



ABERDEEN PROVING GROUNDS, Md. — October is National Depression Education and Awareness Month.

When feelings of sadness, anxiety or depression linger for long periods of time, it’s possible that a person could be clinically depressed.

Depression is a very common condition affecting more than 20 million adults in the U.S. each year.

The Army’s suicide rate has increased significantly during the past five years, and a diagnosis of depression is a risk factor that can contribute to suicidal thoughts, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To be attentive to signs of depression in others as well as oneself is important.

Definition. Depression is defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as having five or more specified symptoms occurring during the same two-week period of time. The symptoms also represent a change from the previous level of functioning.

As part of the criteria, at least one of the symptoms has to be a depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure.

Symptoms. In addition to a depressed mood, other symptoms define depression:
•Difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions.
•Energy levels are decreased or increased feelings of fatigue.
•Persistent aches, pains, headaches, cramps or digestive problems.
•Running into feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism.
•Experiencing feelings of guilt, worthlessness and/or helplessness.
•Suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts.
•Sleeping excessively, early morning wakefulness or insomnia.
•Irritability and restlessness.
•Overeating or loss of appetite.
•No interest in activities or hobbies, once pleasurable, including sex.

Issues such as loneliness, financial strain, lack of social support, relationship problems, unemployment, trauma, death of a loved one, alcohol or drug abuse, childhood abuse, family history of depression, health problems or a recent stressful life experience can place a person at risk for depression.

Though everyone may experience one or more of these issues, not everyone will respond to them in the same way. The same is true for depression; not everyone experiences or exhibits depressive symptoms in the same manner.

Gender and Age. The following are common symptoms of depression for various groups:

Men may exhibit fatigue, irritability, sleep problems, violence, reckless behavior and substance abuse.

Women may exhibit feelings of guilt, excessive sleeping, overeating and weight gain.

Youth may exhibit irritability, hostility, quick temperedness, unexplained aches and pain. If left untreated, these symptoms can lead to problems at home and school, or drug abuse.

Depression is treatable and beatable, but treatment for depression must be sought as early as possible, so the individual can return to a healthy lifestyle and minimize the risk of greater illness.

Treatment for depression includes the use of antidepressant medications, psychotherapy or a combination of both.

Help with Depression
If you or someone you know is in a crisis, seek help immediately:
•Call 911.
•Visit the emergency room or speak to a health care provider.
•Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or 1-800-799-4TTY (4889) to speak with a trained counselor. This number is a 24-hour toll-free hotline provided by the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Learning about Depression Online
If you are not sure if you or your loved one is experiencing depression, private screening tools are available online that provide immediate feedback. Screening tools, tips and more information about depression can be found at these sites: •www.militarymentalhealth.org

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Category: Community, Health

Comments (1)

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  1. Kathleen Winfrey says:

    Early detection and treatment for depression is very important. Anyone with depression or anyone you know with depression should consult their phychiatrist right away in order to prevent suicide ideation and worst mental illness.

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