We’ve all had difficult days, but sometimes the sadness you’re feeling needs medical attention. If you have felt sad for several weeks and it’s interfering with your life, you might have a serious medical illness called depression. Early intervention can help to reduce the severity of the illness.
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, you should see a doctor or therapist:
- 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?
An imbalance of brain chemicals causes depression. A variety of factors can trigger the illness, including: stress or a traumatic event; the death of a close friend or relative; divorce or abusive relationships; medications as well as drugs or alcohol. The illness can also be hereditary.
How is depression treated?
There are a variety of effective medications. Psychotherapy is also often recommended. A healthy lifestyle that includes regular physical activity, a healthy diet and stress management is also important.
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