The American Psychiatric Association defines depression as “a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think, and how you act.”
Unfortunately, people with depression tend to be stereotyped against due to a lack of education and awareness about the subject.
Did you know that depression is quite common and according to the World Health Organization 350 million people suffer from depression around the world?
A lot of people know a person who has been diagnosed with depression, although many are probably not even aware, and there seems to be a lot of misinformation about the subject.
Furthermore, a lot of well-intention individuals want to help but do not have the education or resources to do so.
To spread a little more awareness about this topic, here is a list of 10 things that you should know about depression:
1. It is more common than you may think
As stated above, approximately 350 million people suffer from depression–that is around 5% of our entire world. The chances are that you have been affected by the recession in some way, whether you are fighting it yourself, or you have a family member or friend who is affected.
2. It can cause a lot of shame
Due to some unnecessary stigmas surrounding depression, some people are embarrassed by their depression diagnosis and may feel like they are creating a burden on loved ones. This can lead to shame and sometimes even a lack of asking for help.
3. It affects the immune system
With depression comes stress, and stress can severely impact your immune system. People with depression can also have an imbalance of bacteria in their intestines. This imbalance can affect the brain. Bacteria in the gut has even been linked to behavioral changes.
4. It can cause memory problems
Emotional disorders, such as depression, cause anxiety and stress, which may lead to memory problems. Other trademarks of depression, like difficulty concentrating and lack of sleep, could also contribute to a hazy memory, as well as some of the medications used to treat depression.
5. Exercise, diet, and meditation may help
Exercise creates new brain cells and creates a positive chemical reaction that could help ease some of the symptoms of anxiety. Diet and meditation have also been shown to alter the chemicals in the brain and help alleviate some depression symptoms.
6. It can impact a job
Sometimes depression can hinder one’s ability to work. Some people who become depressed become more lethargic and want just to be alone. Also, their low immune systems can result in more sicknesses and needed time off of work.
Depression can also affect focus and concentration and can sometimes interfere with decision making; however, with proper treatment, a lot of individuals with depression are very successful at their jobs.
7. It is more prevalent in women
Depression is more prevalent in women.
This could be due to the high rates of postpartum depression, it could also be hormonal, or it could be due to the high societal expectations in and outside of the home. It is also highly probable that it is a combination of them all.
8. It increases the risk of addiction
Due to the increased stress and sometimes feelings of unworthiness, depression increases the risk of addiction. Some people with depression self-medicate more than others because it provides temporary relief to their problems and numbs the pain.
9. It can be hereditary
Scientists have linked approximately 40 percent of depression to genetics and 60 percent to environmental factors. Studies have shown that people with siblings or parents with depression are up to three times more likely to inherit depression than those without this link.
10. There is help
Fortunately, there are a lot of organizations that are available to help people with depression. There is the Anxiety and Depression Association of America that offers many online resources, community groups, and a list of ADDA certified therapists.
There also is the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) that has free classes and support groups for both people affected by depression and families affected by depression.
So if you or someone close to you have depression, realize you are not alone, and there are resources, techniques, and support to help make it a little bit easier.
Please spread the awareness.
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About the Author: Amanda Clark resides with her family in Ocala, Florida. In addition to contributing works for Peace Quarters, she also creates educational content for Atlas Mission. She is recently transitioning from a full-time middle school English teacher to a stay-at-home mom, tutor, transcriber, and writer. She has written four books of poetry: Looking at the Moon, Beautifully Mixed-Up World, Flying Fall, and Through the Blinds. She loves technology, juggling pins, and playing with her two-year-old son who will become a big brother in February. She also is a pro at multitasking.