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Everybody feels sad or unhappy some days, but if these feelings interfere with everyday life, and last for several weeks, they could be symptoms of a serious medical illness called depression. Some researchers believe that depression may cause hormonal or other changes in the body that make it more likely for a woman to have a heart attack.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, if you have five or more of the following symptoms of clinical depression and they last for three weeks or more, then you should see a doctor or therapist for treatment:

  • Persistent sadness and crying
  • Low energy and tired all the time
  • Feeling hopeless or helpless
  • Changes in eating or sleeping patterns
  • Problems with memory, concentration or decision-making
  • Irritability and excessive worrying
  • Loss of pleasure in usual activities, including sex
  • Low self-esteem
  • Thoughts of suicide

What causes depression?

There is no one cause for depression. Many things, or a combination of factors can cause it. According to the National Mental Health Association, depression often results from an imbalance in brain chemicals. Depression also can run in families, so if someone in your family has it, you may be more likely to get it. Stress or a traumatic event can cause depression. A death of a close friend or relative can throw someone into depression. Divorce or abusive relationships may cause depression. Even medications can cause depression, as well as drug or alcohol abuse.

How is depression treated?

Fortunately there are some good treatments for depression. There are a variety of medications that are very effective. Psychotherapy is recommended as an adjunct to medication. Adopting a healthy lifestyle that includes regular physical activity, a healthy diet and stress management are also important.

Many people feel ashamed of their feelings. Some think it is a weakness or feel overwhelmed. Many don't know treatment is available or don't think insurance will cover it. But treatment is available so you should talk to your doctor or health care provider if you feel you might be experiencing symptoms of depression. It is one more step in reducing your risk of heart disease.

To help you find more information or a therapist see the websites below:

National Depressive and Manic-Depressive Association

730 North Franklin Street Suite 501
Chicago, IL 60610


Electroconvulsive Therapy

Beaumont is a leader in electroconvulsive therapy. ECT is used chiefly to treat severe depression, but may also be used to treat schizophrenia, mania or other illnesses. ECT may be recommended for patients who:

  • have not responded to antidepressant medicines
  • are unable to take antidepressants due to side effects
  • can no longer carry out daily activities
  • have impaired thinking abilities
  • have responded to ECT in the past

ECT treatments are done initially as an inpatient, with some follow-up on an outpatient basis. A full course treatment usually consists of six to 12 treatments. Please discuss with your psychiatrist if ECT is right for you.