Contributed by Laverne K.

Depression hits around 17 million American adults each year.  This means that 8 out of 10 Americans will experience depression at least once in their lifetime.  Depression is not the same as feeling sad or down for a few days. Depression is an illness that effects the whole body, including moods and thoughts.  It interferes with sleeping and eating patterns as well as the way you view yourself and the world.

Being depressed does not make you weak or less of a person.  It cannot be wished away.  You cannot simple ‘get over it’ and pull yourself out of it.  Without treatment, depression can last for weeks, months or years.  How can you tell if you are depressed or simply feeling down?  Depression has the following symptoms:

  • Disinterest in things that were once enjoyable
  • Loss or increase in appetite
  • Inability to express yourself emotionally, or having a flat affect
  • Persistent feeling of sadness, emptiness, anxiety, hopelessness, pessimism, guilt and worthlessness
  • Social withdrawal
  • Unusual fatigue and a low energy level
  • Sleep disturbance such as oversleeping, insomnia
  • Trouble concentrating, remembering or making decisions
  • Persistent physical problems such as headaches and body pains that do not go away with treatment
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

I know that when I was depressed I did not want to get help because I didn’t want to be on medication.  However, medication is not the only solution to depression. There are other forms of therapy as well. Music and art therapy, meditation and massage, light therapy, neurofeedback and support groups are helpful.  I found that talking with friends who I knew would listen and not dismiss my problems, as well as walking and yoga made a difference in my depression.

Have you ever been depressed?  What approaches help you manage your depression? We invite you to share your ideas in the comment box below.