The focus of this blog – living a long healthy life – has more to it than just keeping your weight down, eating right and exercising regularly. We need to be aware of our mental well-being as well as our physical health. So I thought you could use this introduction to the scourge that is depression. It is a killer of a disease.
One of the first things you need to know about depression is that it is a disorder of cognition not just mood, according to Robert D. Edger, M.D. speaking before Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s Healthy Transitions Program® .
Depression is significantly more than feeling down or feeling sad.
Dr. Edger said that depression is the leading cause of disability in the world according to the World Health Organization. Women outnumber men by a factor of two-to-one. Only a quarter of the people who suffer from depression ever get treated.
The Mayo Clinic defines depression as, “a medical illness that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Depression can cause physical symptoms, too.”
Dr. Edger expanded on the definition of depression as “A complex interaction between multiple vulnerability genes and environmental factors. It is a chronic and recurrent illness and may be progressive in that there may be structural changes in the brain at a cellular level…. It is associated with changes in the endocrine function, immune function and autonomic function: e.g., obesity, hypertension, increased cholesterol, increased inflammation.” He stressed that it is important to understand that depression affects the entire body.
The Mayo Clinic said, “More than just a bout of the blues, depression isn’t a weakness, nor is it something that you can simply snap out of. Depression is a chronic illness that usually requires long-term treatment, like diabetes or high blood pressure. But don’t get discouraged. Most people with depression feel better with medication, psychological counseling or other treatment.” There is hope.
Some of the symptoms of depression include: feeling sad, irritability, loss of pleasure in normal actions, reduced sex drive, insomnia, lack of appetite (in some cases, it causes increased food cravings), crying spells for no apparent reason, thoughts of death, dying and suicide. Not only thinking about suicide, but actually ending one’s life.
Clearly, depression is a major league problem that is not easily solved in a single blog post, or possibly an entire blog. If you or a loved one exhibits any of the foregoing symptoms, seek professional help. Don’t let yourself or a loved one become one of the 75 percent of sufferers who never get treatment.