Introduction

8 Things You Should Know About Depression

The HealthCentral Editorial Team Jul 9th, 2012 (updated Jul 21st, 2016)
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Certain events or attributes can trigger depression.
Certain events or attributes can trigger depression.

Being female, having a history of depression in your family, or suffering a traumatic event can increase your risk of suffering from depression. Other factors, such as having low self-esteem, being without basic necessities due to poverty, or abusing drugs alcohol can also lead to depressive symptoms. Even what is typically a happy event – the birth of a child, graduating from college, or changing jobs – can trigger depression among both women and men.

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Medication isn’t the only way to treat depression.
Medication isn’t the only way to treat depression.

Though many people take antidepressants to treat their depression, there are other ways to treat this condition that don’t involve the use of drugs. Exercise, changes in diet, and taking steps to decrease stress have all been linked to improvements in depression symptoms. Psychotherapy, group therapy, and in-patient hospital treatment are also available to treat depression.

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Depression is more common than you think.
Depression is more common than you think.

Statistics suggest that about 10 percent of adults, up to 8 percent of teenagers, and 2 percent of preteen children suffer from some type of depression. It is one of the top 10 causes of disability in the United States, and it is more common than diabetes, arthritis, cancer, and heart disease. Experts estimate that the annual economic cost of depression is $30.4 billion per year.

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Depression can put people at risk for other health conditions.
Depression can put people at risk for other health conditions.

Researchers have found that depression can increase sufferers’ risks for developing asthma, coronary artery disease, HIV, and many other medical conditions. Depression also increases a person’s risk for illness and death. This is one of the reasons getting the right treatment for depression is so important. Depressed people even get colds and flu more often than people who are not depressed.

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The elderly are particularly at risk for depression.
The elderly are particularly at risk for depression.

Elderly white men have the highest suicide rates, a statistic that may be due to the increased incidence of depression among seniors. When an elderly person becomes depressed, the condition tends to be chronic and have a low rate of recovery. It is also seriously undertreated in seniors; in fact, though late-life depression affects roughly 6 million Americans aged 65 and older, only 10 percent receive treatment for the condition.

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Depression does have specific symptoms.
Depression does have specific symptoms.

Having negative thoughts, an inability to make rational decisions, and unstable or unpredictable moods are all common symptoms of depression. So are lack of concentration, reduced sex drive, and feelings of worthlessness or guilt. People who are depressed tend to alter their eating and sleeping habits as well, reducing or increasing the amount of time they spend at these activities.

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Depression affects men and women differently.
Depression affects men and women differently.

Women are twice as likely to suffer from depression than men, and the genders experience the condition differently. Women tend to experience sadness with depression, while men are more likely to become irritable. Women are more likely to seek out others when they are depressed, looking for support, while men often become more remote and removed from their friends and surroundings. Men can become violent or abusive when depressed, as well.

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Some medications have been associated with causing depression
Some medications have been associated with causing depression

These drugs include the anti-inflammatory Interferon (Avonex, Rebetron), corticosteroids (Deltasone, Orasone), diet pills and other stimulants, bronchodilators (Slo-phyllin, Theo-Dur), anxiety and sleeping pills (Valium, Librium), acne medications (Accutane), oral contraceptives, and anti-cancer drugs (tamoxifen), and some heart medications.