Depression is a common and potentially debilitating mood disorder that affects more than 16.2 million adults each year according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Depression can be caused by several factors, including heredity, stress, sudden life change (such as a death of a family member or job loss) and trauma.

The disorder can affect the way people think, feel, and perform daily tasks at work or school. Depression can also affect your relationship with loved ones and friends. Some of the symptoms include:

  • Feelings of sadness and hopelessness lasting for two weeks or longer
  • Mood changes such as increased irritability or lethargy
  • Changes in sleeping and eating habits
  • Withdrawal from friends and activities you once enjoyed

“If detected early, depression can be managed and treated with therapy and medication,” said Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center’s psychiatrist Dr. Maria Aguilo-Seara. “Depression that is left untreated can become more severe and lead to suicidal thoughts, induce high-risk behaviors, development of medical conditions and impact daily function.”

Maintaining good mental health is just as important as maintaining good physical health. For many, preventive care is often the key to lowering the risk of physical and mental health conditions. Dr. Aguilo-Seara shares some tips on how to maintain mental wellness and help reduce the onset of depression.

  • Create an emotional support system of family and friends
  • Participate in activities you enjoy, setting aside time in your day or week to de-stress
  • Engage in 30 minutes of physical activity daily
  • Eat a healthy, balanced meal
  • Enjoy at least 15 minutes of natural sunlight daily

Struggling with feelings of prolonged anxiety, hopelessness and sadness? Call 800-204-8600 for a mental health consultation.