Published on April 29, 2021

Depression: You Are Not Alone

young woman with depression

We often think of depression as being sad, gloomy or “down in the dumps.” However, there is much more to depression than that.

Symptoms

While sadness can be a symptom of depression, it is certainly not the only one. People with depression may lose interest in once pleasurable activities and notice a change in appetite or weight. They may feel tired or fatigued and notice a change in sleep patterns. Often there are changes in cognition, such as slowed thought processing and difficulty concentrating. People can feel weighed down, sluggish, hopeless, worthless and guilty.

While depression is an illness that affects up to 9.7% of youth and 6.7% of adults in America—with cases rising—it still carries a stigma. Those who do not understand depression may see it as mental weakness or laziness that can be fixed by “cheering up” or “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps.” These ideas are not only incorrect, but also unhelpful. Someone suffering from true depression has an illness that requires treatment by a trained professional.

Treatment

Treatments for depression vary. The first line of treatment is often counseling or therapy. Many different types of therapy can be effective for depression. Mindfulness can help with excessive worry, as you train your thoughts to focus on what is present. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps you retrain the way you behave in and cope with different situations.

When therapy is not enough to treat depression, medications may be necessary. Antidepressants and mood stabilizers may be prescribed to treat chemical imbalances, which are often the cause of clinical depression. These medications carry stigma as well, so it is important to remember that depression is a medical condition that can be treated effectively with prescribed medication just like many other medical conditions.

There is no shame in seeking medical treatment for depression. Seeking help does not mean you failed to “do it on your own.” According to research, depression is linked to reduced activity in the brain’s prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that is involved with depression symptoms, like low energy levels and appetite changes. When medications and therapy are not enough to effectively treat depression, a physician may prescribe a neurological treatment such as TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation), which stimulates nerve cells and increases activity in this area of the brain.

Here to Help

North Mississippi Medical Center’s Behavioral Health Center offers help for depression. If you feel you are suffering from depression, check with your physician to see if referral to one of our psychiatrists, nurse practitioners or staff counselors for individual or family therapy might be appropriate.

In addition, some employers offer an Employee Assistance Program for counseling free of charge. No referral is required to take advantage of your EAP.

If you or someone you know suffers from depression, please seek help. Depression is treatable and manageable, and you are not alone.

If you or someone you know suffers from depression, please seek help. Depression is treatable and manageable, and you are not alone.