Longfellow wrote, "Into each life some rain must fall." And each of us has ways of coping with the sadness that's an inevitable part of life. But sadness that doesn't go away or that keeps you from enjoying things you usually like could be a sign of clinical depression.
Other kinds of clinical depression may be caused by a tragic event, a period of stress, an illness, changes in the brain that affect mood, or for reasons nobody understands. Getting help is important, because treatment, including medicines, counseling, or a combination of both, can reduce the suffering that comes along with depression and improve quality of life.
What to look for:
- Ongoing sad or "empty" mood for most of the day
- Loss of interest or pleasure in almost all activities most of the time
- Major weight loss (when not dieting) or weight gain
- Being slowed down or restless and agitated almost every day, enough for others to noticeExtreme tiredness (fatigue) or loss of energy
- Trouble sleeping : early waking, sleeping too much, or not being able to sleep
- Trouble focusing thoughts, remembering, or making decisions
- Feeling guilty, worthless, or helpless
- Frequent thoughts of death or suicide (not just fear of death), suicide plans, or attempts
If you suspect you may be depressed, make an appointment to see a doctor. If you notice symptoms in a friend or family member, talk with them about getting help. If someone tries to hurt themselves, or has a plan to do so, urge them to get help from their doctor or the emergency room.