- Persistent sad, anxious or "empty" mood
- Sleeping too much or too little, middle of the night or early morning waking
- Reduced appetite and weight loss, or increased appetite and weight gain
- Loss of pleasure and interest in activities once enjoyed, including sex
- Restlessness, irritability
- Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment (such as chronic pain or digestive disorders)
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Feeling guilty, hopeless or worthless
- Thoughts of suicide or death
If you have five or more of these symptoms for two weeks or more, you could have clinical depression and should see your doctor or a qualified mental health professional for help.
Many things can contribute to clinical depression.
Biological: People with depression typically have too little or too much of certain brain chemicals, called "neurotransmitters." Changes in these brain chemicals may cause or contribute to clinical depression.
Cognitive: People with negative thinking patterns and low self-esteem are more likely to develop clinical depression.
Gender: Women experience clinical depression at a rate that is nearly twice that of men. While the reasons for this are still unclear, they may include the hormonal changes women go through during menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth and menopause. Other reasons may include the stress caused by the multiple responsibilities that women have.
Co-occurrence: Clinical depression is more likely to occur along with certain illnesses, such as heart disease, cancer, Parkinson's disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease and hormonal disorders.
Medications: Side effects of some medications can bring about depression.
Genetic: A family history of clinical depression increases the risk for developing the illness.
Situational: Difficult life events, including divorce, financial problems or the death of a loved one can contribute to clinical depression.
If you or someone you know is hurting, there is help. By calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255), the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, you’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7. Anyone can also reach them online at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
Talk to someone — it can save a life. We MUST conquer the stigma that society places on all those who suffer from mental illness. So don't wait — do it now.