What is Depression?
Depression is a real illness that impacts one’s overall functioning. Anyone who suffers from depression will tell you, it is more than just feeling “down.” Many things contribute to depression such as genetics, changes in hormone levels, medical conditions, school bullying, a history of trauma or abuse, and other challenging life circumstances such as loss of employment or divorce. Any of these factors alone or in combination can contribute to changes in brain chemistry that lead to depression’s many symptoms. The good news is that when depression is identified and treated, symptoms become more manageable, leading to a sense of greater hope, resilience, and an improved outlook on life.
Turning Point Clinical Director Norwil (Noy) Frial, Psy.D, CADC says, “If you know someone struggling with depression, there are many ways to help. You can encourage them to seek treatment, connect them with local organizations, make plans together, offer positive reinforcement, or just listen. What’s crucial, especially during the holiday season when there’s so much on our to-do-list, is to follow through with your offer to help. Really set aside some time to do what you offered to do. Even if it’s just a few minutes of your time, it may be what they have been looking forward to for a few days.”
Do You Know Someone Who Suffers from Depression?
Here is how you can help:
- Listen to them; don’t judge.
- Support them; don’t try to rescue.
- Encourage them to seek professional help as soon as possible.
Symptoms of Depression
Living with depression is different than being in a bad mood or having a bad day. Most healthcare professionals look for clusters of symptoms that occur over a period of time (two weeks or longer), and at how these symptoms impact the individual’s psychological, occupational, academic, and interpersonal functioning.
Some of the common symptoms that could suggest the presence of depression are:
Feelings/Emotions: Persistent sadness, hopelessness, anger/irritability, loss of interest
Thoughts: Negative thinking, excessive ruminating, difficulties concentrating, thoughts of self-harm/suicide
Behaviors: Isolation, substance abuse, missing work, school, self-harming/suicidal acts Physical Problems: Lack of energy, unexplained aches and pains, weight loss/gain, changes in sleep patterns
Everyone can expect to experience symptoms of depression on occasion. It is most important to seek a health care provider to get a proper diagnosis and find out if what you are experiencing is from depression or from an undiagnosed medical condition. When left untreated and at its worst, depression can lead to suicide.
Know your treatment options:
- Make an appointment with your primary care doctor and have a comprehensive physical exam.
- Find a therapist. Seek trained professionalsn to help you identify symptoms, gain insight to probable causes, and learn concrete tools for self-regulation, adaptive coping, relaxation and stress reduction.
- Consult with a psychiatrist for a psychiatric evaluation and if necessary, medication management.
Turning Point Administrative Assistant Audrey Behm, BA recommends support for family members affected by their loved one’s depression. “Being a good listener is important, but it can be challenging to maintain perspective. It can be helpful to get a professional, objective opinion. Someone who is on the outside looking in can offer support to family members dealing with their own stress and anxiety.”
Please use the following resources for immediate assistance for you and those you love:
Peer and Family Support
Mon–Fri, 8am–5pm, 866-359-7953
National Suicide Prevention Hotline
In-Touch at UIC
Sun–Fri, 6–10:30pm, 312-996-5535
CRISIS HOTLINES (24 hrs/7 days)
Turning Point Behavioral Health Care Center
CRISIS WALK-IN CENTER
The Living Room at Turning Point
Tues – Fri and Sun from 3 – 8pm
8324 Skokie Blvd., Skokie, IL 60077
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