Far from just a “down in the dumps” day or two, depression is a serious illness that affects about 12 million women in America each year. It can cause energy levels to plummet, changes in sleeping and eating patterns, problems with memory and concentration, and feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, and negativity.
By The Editors of Prevention
Many different factors can cause depression (it’s usually a combination of genetic, environmental, and psychological issues) and there’s rarely a one-size-fits-all treatment. People with severe depression seem to have a brain chemistry that predisposes them to bouts. It’s important to see a doctor if you experience five or more of these depression symptoms for more than 2 weeks: persistent sad, anxious, or empty feelings; loss of interest or pleasure in activities; feelings of hopelessness, pessimism, guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness; insomnia or oversleeping; appetite loss or overeating; fatigue; restlessness; irritability; difficulty concentrating or remembering; or thoughts of death or suicide.
Depression is usually treated with some combination of medications, therapy, and lifestyle changes. Antidepressant drugs are commonly a primary treatment for adults with moderate to severe cases. It can take some trial and error to find the med that works best for you, and can take up to 3 months for the med’s effects to kick in. Research shows that talk therapy helps beat depression too; up to two-thirds of people could recover just as well from therapy alone, skipping drugs entirely. Exercise is also a proven natural remedy–in one study, people with mild to moderate depression who started exercising 3 to 5 times a week improved depressive symptoms like anxiety and insomnia by 47%.