Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is the most prevalent mental health disorder.
18.8 million American adults will suffer from a depressive illness in any given year. The symptoms of depression interfere with one's ability to function in all areas of life (work, family, sleep, etc.).
Common symptoms of depression, reoccurring almost every day for a period of two weeks or more:
- Depressed mood (feeling sad or empty).
- Lack of interest in previously enjoyable activities.
- Significant weight loss or gain, or decrease or increase in appetite.
- Insomnia or hyper- insomnia.
- Agitation, restlessness, irritability.
- Fatigue or loss of energy.
- Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, guilt.
- Inability to think, concentrate or indecisiveness.
- Recurrent thoughts of death, recurrent suicidal ideation, suicide attempt or plan for completing suicide.
Suicide is the major life-threatening complication of depression.
About 2/3 of people who complete suicide are depressed at the time of their deaths. While Major Depressive Disorder is the psychiatric diagnosis most commonly associated with completed suicide, not everyone who commits suicide has a mental disorder. It is also important to know that depression can be treated and managed. Treatment options vary depending on each person's particular needs. Simply talking to a professional can greatly improve a suicidal persons chance of survival. Others may need the help of an anti-depressant to get them back on track. A combination of antidepressants and psychotherapy tends to work the best. Either way intervening on some level is better than doing nothing at all and ignoring the problem.
Individuals who are depressed and exhibit the following symptoms are at particular risk for suicide:
- Rage, uncontrolled anger, seeking revenge.
- Acting reckless or impulsive.
- Feeling trapped- as if there is no way out.
- Increasing alcohol or drug use.
- Withdrawing from family, friends, society.
- Anxiety, agitation, inability to sleep or sleeping all the time.
- Dramatic mood changes.
- Expressing no reason for living, no sense of purpose in life.
-American Association of Suicidology.
If you are depressed:
Depressive disorders can make one feel exhausted, worthless, helpless, and hopeless. It is important to realize that these negative views are part of the depression and do not accurately reflect the actual circumstances. Negative thinking fades as treatment begins to take effect. In the meantime:
- Engage in mild exercise. Go to a movie, a ballgame, or participate in religious, social, or other activities.
- Set realistic goals and assume a reasonable amount of responsibility.
- Break large tasks into small ones, set some priorities, and do what you can as you can.
- Try to be with other people and to confide in someone; it is usually better than being alone and secretive. \
- Participate in activities that may make you feel better.
- Expect your mood to improve gradually, not immediately. Feeling better takes time.
- Often during treatment of depression, sleep and appetite will begin to improve before depressed mood lifts.
- Postpone important decisions. Before deciding to make a significant transition-change jobs, get married or divorceddiscuss it with others who know you well and have a more objective view of your situation.
- Do not expect to 'snap out of a depression. But do expect to feel a little better day by day.
- Remember, positive thinking will replace the negative thinking as your depression responds to treatment.
- Let your family and friends help you.