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Identifying Depression

Last updated on Sunday, February 16, 2014

"Where is the moment we needed the most

You kick up the leaves and the magic is lost

They tell me your blue skies fade to gray

They tell me your passion's gone away

And I don't need no carryin' on"

— from "Bad Day" by Daniel Powter

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Sounds familiar? You may recognize these lyrics from the once popular "Bad Day" by singer Daniel Powter. Indeed, having a bad day is very natural. It can happen to even the best of us. However, if you find yourself in constant sadness—experiencing dramatic changes in appetite and sleep patterns, feeling worthless and dejected frequently, and losing interest in the things you used to enjoy—it is worth your time to consider the possibility that you might be clinically depressed.

Depression is a very common mental health condition, and just about anyone can be affected by it. The American College Health Association reports that almost 10% of college students have been diagnosed or treated for depression in the past year, and when we consider all the cases that have not yet been identified for various reasons, it becomes very clear that depression is an ongoing concern. The reason for depression varies widely from person to person. Triggers can include academic stress, family problem, financial pressure, and social anxiety, among many others. In extreme cases, depression can be very dangerous. There is, for example, a recent spike in the number of suicide attempts nationally, mainly as a result bullying and identity issues. On a less severe level, depression can also lead to inability to concentrate, general loss of motivation, and development of unhealthy habits (such as overeating).

Contrary to belief, depression is not a sign of personal weakness, and neither is seeking help. The sooner depression is diagnosed and treated, the sooner can those suffering from depression regain control of their lives and become more hopeful. If you suspect a friend is suffering from depression, you can begin by reaching out, by talking to him or her. Making sure that your friend has someone to trust and talk to is a great first step toward getting him or her back on track. You can also enlist the help of other trusted friends to form a support group and share the wealth of available resources with the friend. Remember, there are many helpful services available, and they are absolutely confidential and non-judgmental. If you are not sure how to help, do not hesitate to ask for advice.

Something important to note here is that depression is different from normal stress or sadness. Stress and sadness usually last for a few days or perhaps a week, but the depression we are speaking of—clinical depression—may continue well beyond two weeks, and it rarely goes away by itself. Nevertheless, just remember that there are a lot of resources out there, and anyone can use them regardless of whether he or she is depressed, stressed, or just sad.

Tags: depressionmental healthsadnessstress

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