Depression

  • Women are twice as likely to have depression and symptoms of depression as men of the same age. (healthline.com 2014)
  • Major depression is the leading cause of disability for Americans between the ages of 15 and 44, according to the CDC (everydayhealth.com 2013)

Everyone feels sad sometimes. Depression is when those feelings of sadness get so intense that you feel helpless, hopeless, or worthless for longer than a few days. Sometimes you also may have trouble concentrating or sleeping and you may feel incredibly tired all the time (Web MD 2014).

Feeling sad or lonely at times is a normal part of life. However, if these feelings interfere with your daily life and cause emotional pain for either you or those around you, you may be dealing with depression. Depression varies from person to person, and not everyone who is depressed experiences every symptom. When these symptoms become overwhelming and keep you from engaging in and enjoying daily activities, you should seek help.

Signs and symptoms of depression include:

  • Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. A bleak outlook—nothing will ever get better and there’s nothing you can do to improve your situation.
  • Loss of interest in daily activities. No interest in former hobbies, pastimes, or social activities. You’ve lost your ability to feel joy and pleasure.
  • Appetite or weight changes. Significant weight loss or weight gain—a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month.
  • Sleep changes. Either insomnia, especially waking in the early hours of the morning, or oversleeping (also known as hypersomnia).
  • Anger or irritability. Feeling agitated, restless, or even violent. Your tolerance level is low, your temper short, and everything and everyone gets on your nerves.
  • Loss of energy. Feeling fatigued, sluggish, and physically drained. Your whole body may feel heavy, and even small tasks are exhausting or take longer to complete.
  • Self-loathing. Strong feelings of worthlessness or guilt. You harshly criticize yourself for perceived faults and mistakes.
  • Reckless behavior. You engage in escapist behavior such as substance abuse, compulsive gambling, reckless driving, or dangerous sports.
  • Concentration problems. Trouble focusing, making decisions, or remembering things.
  • Unexplained aches and pains. An increase in physical complaints such as headaches, back pain, aching muscles, and stomach pain.

Depression and suicide risk

Depression is a major risk factor for suicide. The deep despair and hopelessness that goes along with depression can make suicide feel like the only way to escape the pain. If you have a loved one with depression, take any suicidal talk or behavior seriously and learn to recognize the warning signs.

Warning signs of suicide include:

  • Talking about killing or harming one’s self
  • Expressing strong feelings of hopelessness or being trapped
  • An unusual preoccupation with death or dying
  • Acting recklessly, as if they have a death wish (e.g. speeding through red lights)
  • Calling or visiting people to say goodbye
  • Getting affairs in order (giving away prized possessions, tying up loose ends)
  • Saying things like “Everyone would be better off without me” or “I want out”
  • A sudden switch from being extremely depressed to acting calm and happy

(Helpguide.org 2014)

In teens, symptoms may include sadness, irritability, feeling negative and worthless, anger, poor performance or poor attendance at school, feeling misunderstood and extremely sensitive, using drugs or alcohol, eating or sleeping too much, self-harm, loss of interest in normal activities, and avoidance of social interaction.

Depression may occur alone or along with other mental health conditions, such as anxiety, eating disorders, substance abuse or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, seek help immediately.

  • Reach out to a family member, friend, or teacher
  • Contact a pastor, mentor, or someone in your faith community
  • Call a suicide hotline number — in the United States, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255) to reach a trained counselor
  • Make an appointment with your doctor, mental health provider or other health care provider
  • Contact the police or go to the Emergency room or if there is an active plan to commit suicide; do not leave the individual unattended

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, Mercy can help. Our program is completely free to the girls we serve. Call 615-831-6987 for more details, or click here to learn more.