October is National Depression Education Awareness Month

Posted on September 27, 2011 in Active Aging for All Communities

by Lu Ann Presser, Dorothy Love Retirement Community

Major depression affects an estimated 19 million American adults every year. Nearly twice as many women as men suffer from depression.

Symptoms of major depression interfere with the ability to work, sleep, eat, or enjoy pleasurable activities. It can occur at any age.

Low levels of the chemicals serotonin and norepinephrine are believed to attribute to depression. These substances are called neurotransmitters and they carry electrical signals from one nerve cell in the brain across spaces (called synapses) to other cells.

Life events may also be responsible for a person’s depressed mood, such as a death of a loved one, financial concerns, martial problems, and health issues.

In the past few years we have heard much about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). In the winter months we are exposed to less light. Research indicates that the absence of sunlight triggers a biochemical reaction that may cause loss of energy, fatigue and lethargy, decreased activity and sadness.

Whatever the cause depression is a treatable disease. The first step is to consult with your doctor as soon as possible. There are a variety of anti depression medications that can be prescribed. Most of them work by correcting the chemical imbalance in the brain.

Psychotherapy often helps change the way of thinking. Talking with a psychiatrist or counselor may help explore your feelings to help you interact with others in a positive way again.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than 80% of patients with a depressive disorder show at least some improvement when they receive appropriate treatment with medication, take therapy or both.

All of us from time to time become “blue.” If that feeling persists past two weeks check with your physician.

Remember: treatment works!


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