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Health and Wellness – Is Depression Serious?
BSN, RN, FNP (ret) Wellness Consultant
Wednesday, May 9, 2012 • Posted May 10, 2012 9:51 AM

No series on Mental Health can be complete without taking a look at depression and the related problem of suicide. Depression is the most common form of mental illness. Everyone feels sad sometimes. Grief and sadness are normal reactions to any loss or grave disappointment; events that happen in every life. However, when these thoughts and feelings persist over long periods of times, lead to inability to get on with living, or thoughts of suicide, it is time to get help.

An estimated 19 million American adults are living with major depression. Experts used to think that only adults could get depression. Now we know that even a young child can have depression that needs treatment to improve. As many as 2 out of 100 young children and 8 out of 100 teens have serious depression.

Since the whole person is involved with depression, the condition has multiple causes, many treatments and is difficult to diagnose. There are physical (biochemical), psychological (emotional) and spiritual components associated with any medical condition.

What are the key signs of depression? Here are the top items and if you experience five or more of these symptoms for two weeks or longer, you may have depression. See a doctor or mental health professional for help right away. It's also important to connect to the people in your life who care about you and can give you support.

• Persistent sad, anxious or "empty" mood

• Difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or sleeping more than usual

• Reduced appetite and weight loss, or increased appetite and weight gain

• Loss of pleasure and interest in once-enjoyable activities

• Restlessness, irritability

• Difficulty concentrating at work or at school or difficulty remembering things or making decisions

• Fatigue or loss of energy

• Feeling guilty, hopeless or worthless

• Thoughts of suicide or death

Any one of these signs does not necessarily mean the person is considering suicide, but several of these symptoms may signal a need for help:

• Verbal suicide threats such as, “You’d be better off without me.” or “Maybe I won’t be around”

• Expressions of hopelessness and helplessness

• Previous suicide attempts

• Daring or risk-taking behavior

• Personality changes

• Depression

• Giving away prized possessions

• Lack of interest in future plans

Suicide is a preventable, treatable, terminal problem…get help! Talk to someone. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255): Suicide hotline, 24/7 free and confidential, nationwide network of crisis centers. Other hotline numbers are available on-line. I made test calls to a few of the numbers; all were helpful, but wait times varied. I was on hold from four to fifteen minutes. One of the most helpful resources is Mental Health America:

Although they may not call prevention centers, people considering suicide usually do seek help; for example, nearly three-fourths of all suicide victims visit a doctor in the four months before their deaths, and half in the month before the attempt.

If you, or someone you know struggles with deep feelings of sadness, get help for body, mind, and spirit. Talk with your family and friends, see your primary health care provider, professional counselor, call for prayer, or visit your priest or pastor. You are not alone.

Disclaimer: Facts in these articles are obtained from medical and clinical journals, scientific publications, and published trade books. These articles have been written and published strictly for information purposes. Consult your health care provider for your specific medical needs. For any questions, comments or suggestions contact Maryella at or

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