Friday, April 7, is World Health Day, marking the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organization. This year’s theme is “Depression: Let’s Talk.”
Depression is a common disorder that does not discriminate. It affects people of all ages all across the globe. It is estimated that roughly 4.5 percent of the world’s population deals with the disorder. That appears to be increasing, especially in lower-income areas. The impacts can be felt not only by the individuals but also by their families, friends and employers. The disorder can make even simple daily tasks feel impossible. Suicide can be a devastating consequence and is the second leading cause of death among 15- to 24-year-olds.
Fortunately, prevention and treatment options exist. The more we talk about depression and learn, the more we can recognize and respond. The stigma attached to mental illness is one of the largest barriers for those seeking treatment.
Depression is more than just the blues or being sad. Clinical depression is a mood disorder in which feelings of sadness, loss, anger or frustration interfere with everyday life for a longer period of time. Common symptoms include:
• Low or irritable mood most of the time
• A loss of pleasure in usual activities
• Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
• A big change in appetite, often with weight gain or loss
• Tiredness and lack of energy
• Feelings of worthlessness, self-hate and guilt
• Difficulty concentrating
• Unusually slow or fast movements
• Lack of activity and avoiding usual activities
• Feeling hopeless or helpless
• Repeated thoughts of death or suicide
Depression can be seen in all ages. Symptoms or common factors may depend on your life stage and may look different for those who are younger than for older people.
Children: While depression isn’t as common in children, it does occur. In fact, it affects roughly 2 percent of elementary-school-age children. Kids who are depressed may have difficulties with processing and concentrating in school, appear more moody or defiant and complain of frequent headaches.
Adolescents and young adults: Approximately 11.5 percent of adolescents have had at least one major depressive episode in a given year. Some contributing factors may include academic pressures or bullying. In addition, we all have seen the increase in social media use, and research shows that excessive social media can be linked to depressive symptoms.
Warning signs to look for include increased isolation or withdrawal, repeated use of alcohol or substances, severe mood swings or a drastic change in behavior.
Nearly 1 in 5 young adults have experienced at least one depressive episode. The most common symptoms for this age group involve mood changes, sleep issues, loss of energy or motivation, increased irritation or sadness.
Older adults: Middle-age men have seen the highest increase in suicide over the past 15 years, according to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Depression can develop at this stage due to economic stress, loss of a partner, loneliness, chronic medical problems or general physical decline.
Effective treatments are available for various stages and can help manage depression in all ages. Treatment usually involves talk therapy or antidepressant medication or a combination of these.
If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the symptoms and you are concerned, talk to your doctor or another professional to discuss the best way to move forward and feel better.
Go to the Mental Health American website for a free depression screening. Visit MentalHealthAmerica.net and click “Take a screen.”
If you or someone you know needs immediate help, call 800-273-8255 (TALK) for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or call the Jackson Hole Community Counseling Center hotline 733-2046.