1. Depression is a common medical illness. It is NOT a sign of personal weakness or failure.
2. Depression symptoms affect all parts of us—our thoughts, feelings, relationships and body functions.
3. Depression is more than just “feeling down” about things. Talk with your physician about your symptoms.
4. The causes of depression are complex. Some factors include:
• Brain chemistry
• Learned patterns of thinking and feeling
• Genes inherited from family
• Life stressors, ether ongoing or in crisis situations
5. Treatment of depression is effective, but may take several weeks to several months. Without treatment, depression can last for years.
6. Treatment with counseling and/or medication is effective. It often requires adjusting your treatment to get the full benefit, but you will get better.
• Persistent sadness or low mood. This may be with or without weepiness.
• Marked loss of interest or pleasure in activities, even for activities that you normally enjoy.
• Disturbed sleep compared with your usual pattern. This may be difficulty in getting off to sleep, or waking early and being unable to get back to sleep. Sometimes it is sleeping too much.
• Change in appetite. This is often a poor appetite and weight loss. Sometimes the reverse happens with comfort eating and weight gain.
• Tiredness (fatigue) or loss of energy.
• Agitation or slowing of movements.
• Poor concentration or indecisiveness. For example, you may find it difficult to read, work, etc. Even simple tasks can seem difficult.
• Feelings of worthlessness, or excessive or inappropriate guilt.
• Recurrent thoughts of death. This is not usually a fear of death, more a preoccupation with death and dying. For some people despairing thoughts such as "life's not worth living" or "I don't care if I don't wake up" are common. Sometimes these thoughts progress into thoughts and even plans for suicide.
• Depression is not something to be ashamed of.
• Depression is not the same thing as feeling “blue” or “down.”
• Depression is not a character flaw or the sign of a weak personality.
• Depression is not a “mood” someone can “snap out of.” (Would you ask someone to “snap out of” diabetes or high blood pressure?)