Protecting Your Mental Health in 2023
Depression is among the most common mental disorders in the world. According to a 2019 report from the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, roughly 3.8 percent of the world's population is affected by depression. That percentage is higher among adults (5 percent) and even more so among adults 60 and over (5.7 percent).
Despite its prevalence, depression still carries a stigma, leaving many people to confront it in silence. However, over the last several years, public attitudes toward mental health have shifted, compelling millions of people to recognize the severity of the threat posed by mental health disorders like depression. That recognition has led various prominent public figures, such as comedian Jim Carrey, athlete Kevin Love and singer/actress Lady Gaga, to publicly acknowledge their own battles with depression.
Depression is nothing to be ashamed of, and recognition of that reality may compel millions of people to seek the help they need. One of the first steps toward overcoming depression is to learn how it can manifest itself. Though feelings of sadness are common in people with depression, according to ADA Health, depression is much more than a feeling of sadness, and its symptoms may be masked by physical complaints or substance abuse. That can make it hard to identify signs of depression, which underscores the significance of learning to spot its symptoms. The National Institute of Mental Health notes that the following signs and symptoms could be indicative of depression if individuals have been experiencing them most of the day, nearly every day, for at least two weeks.
• Persistent sad, anxious, or 'empty' mood
• Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
• Feelings of irritability, frustration or restlessness • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness or helplessness • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies or activities
• Decreased energy, fatigue or feeling 'slowed down'
• Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions
• Difficulty sleeping, early morning awakening or oversleeping
• Changes in appetite or unplanned weight changes
• Thoughts of death or suicide, or attempts at suicide • Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause that do not ease with treatment It's important that individuals experiencing these symptoms or those who witness them in loved ones avoid self-diagnosing their conditions or the condition of friends or family members. If any of these symptoms are present for two weeks or more, contact a physician immediately or urge a loved one to do so.
More information about depression can be found at www.nimh.nih. gov/health/topics/depression.