Know Your Risk for Depression and How to Stay Mentally Well
October is National Depression Awareness Month. Depression affects more people than most of us realize. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, an estimated 16 million adults, almost 7 percent of the population, had at least one major depressive episode in the past year alone. Approximately 30 percent of people with substance abuse problems also have depression. This requires coordinated treatment for both conditions, as substance abuse (including alcohol) can worsen symptoms.
Depression is a mood disorder and a medical condition that should be taken seriously. If you or a loved one has experienced the following symptoms for two weeks or longer, it’s important to talk to a mental health professional immediately.
- Loss of interest in activities you once found pleasurable
- Sadness and hopelessness
- Change in appetite and/or weight loss or weight gain
- Sleep disturbances
- Restlessness or irritability
- Suicidal thoughts or behaviors
Left untreated, depression can be devastating for those who suffer from it as well as their loved ones whose lives can also be affected indirectly. Unfortunately, only about a third of those suffering from severe depression seek treatment for the disease. Treatment can include individual therapy, group therapy, medication, or lifestyle changes such as diet, sleep, and exercise changes.
To stay mentally well, Marissa Leslie, MD, Adventist HealthCare Behavioral Health & Wellness Services’ Medical Director, recommends the following:
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet
- Exercise regularly
- Get plenty of rest
- Build a support network of family and friends