DEPRESSION: MISUNDERSTOOD AND HIGHLY TREATABLE
Depression is one of the most common psychological
problems. It can strike anyone at any time. In any given
year, more than 12 million Americans suffer from it.
According to a recent report from the Menninger Clinic,
depression costs us as much as 43 billion dollars each year
in lost productivity and medical treatment of physical
You would think, given its prevalence, that depression
would be better understood. But people tend to think the
depressed person should just be able to snap out of it, that
they’re simply sad or even just lazy. This way of thinking
makes it less likely that a depressed person will seek
treatment. This is most unfortunate since 80% of afflicted
persons will recover with proper care.
What is proper care? Medication, psychotherapy or a
combination of both is the answer. There is a new generation
of anti-depressant drugs on the market which are apparently safe
although their effectiveness is unclear at this point.
Psychotherapy can help to identify and change lifestyle
factors which may contribute to feeling defeated, deflated and
unmotivated. Support groups also can help.
Information on depression is available on videos for
those wishing to develop a basic understanding of the
problem. The National Depressive and Manic-Depressive
Association (NDMDA) offers one called “Everyone Needs a Hand
to Hold Onto” (18 min., $15, 1-800-826-3632). Medcom, Inc.
has a program entitled, “When Someone You Love Suffers From
Depression” (30 min., $24.95, 1-800-320-1444).
If you or someone you love has five or more of the
following symptoms for two weeks or longer, a depressive
disorder is indicated requiring professional attention:
1. Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day.
2. Little or no interest in daily activities.
3. Significant changes in weight or appetite.
4. Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much.
5. Being hyperactive or slowed down.
6. Fatigue or loss of energy.
7. Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt.
8. Problems thinking, concentrating or making decisions
9. Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.