October is the month that many Texans finally get a break from the summer’s heat. Many of us cheer our favorite college football team or even come through Dallas to visit the State Fair of Texas. One of my fall joys is carving my Halloween pumpkins and buying the Fall mums I place on my front porch. It’s always a personal dilemma, do I buy the gold, the burgundy or the white mums?
For some, depression has taken the joy out of their daily lives regardless of the season. It is estimated that each year, roughly 25 million Americans will experience an episode of depression. Annually, we recognize October as National Depression and Health Screening Month.
Depression “is a mood state that goes well beyond temporarily feeling sad or blue,” and “is a serious medical illness that affects one’s thoughts, feelings, behavior, mood and physical health,” according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
When feelings of intense sadness include feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, or worthlessness, and last for more than a few days, it may be an indication of clinical depression, which is a treatable medical condition. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms below, talk to your doctor.
Q: What are some signs and symptoms of depression?
Symptoms may include:
- A depressed mood during most of the day, particularly in the morning
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions
- Fatigue and decreased energy
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and/or helplessness
- Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
- Insomnia, early morning wakefulness or excessive sleeping
- Irritability, restlessness
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable
- Loss of pleasure in life
- Overeating or appetite loss
- Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
- Persistent sad, anxious or “empty” feelings
- Thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts
Q: How is depression diagnosed?
Depression must be diagnosed by an experienced physician, based on the patient’s report of symptoms and changes in mood, behavior, or lifestyle.
Q: How is depression treated?
Left untreated, the symptoms and frequency of depression may increase. Some patients with clinical depression are treated with psychotherapy, and some are prescribed antidepressants. Others don’t respond to standard depression treatments and may opt to try brain stimulation techniques such as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), also called electroshock therapy, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), or vagus nerve stimulation (VNS).