Symptoms of depression are some of the most common presenting issues discussed with healthcare professionals. It is estimated that feelings of depression will affect about one-third of all adults in Canada at some time in their lives. It is a condition that also affects our children and our teens.
Several factors increase your risk of developing feelings of depression:
Gender: Women are twice as likely as men to experience symptoms of depression.
The elderly: Feelings of depression in this age group are frequently overlooked because the symptoms are similar to other diseases and problems experienced by older adults. The elderly are at a particularly high risk for depression. Furthermore, they are notoriously undertreated for depression.
Personal or family history: You are more likely to experience feelings of depression if you have a history of previous depression, an anxiety condition, or another mental illness. You are also 2 to 3 times more likely to experience feelings of depression if one or both of your parents were diagnosed with depression.
Medical issues: Such as chronic illness, thyroid issues, cancer or heart disease. Certain medications such as prescription painkillers have also been linked to depression.
Substance use disorders: Many people who abuse drugs or alcohol have depression, too. Some people misuse substances when they feel down. For others, heavy use of alcohol or drugs can bring on depression symptoms. Stressful life events such as changing jobs, the loss of a job, a relationship ending, or children leaving home.
Lack of family or social support: Having few or no supportive relationships can increase the risk of depression in both men and women.
Major life changes and stress: A significant and stressful change in life patterns can trigger a depressive episode. Such stressful events may include a serious loss of some kind, a difficult relationship or one ending, trauma, or financial crises.
Symptoms of depression that may point to a need for treatment vary from person to person:
- Persistent feelings of sadness
- Loss of interest or motivation to engage in pleasurable activities.
- Changes in appetite or weight
- Restlessness or decreased activity that is noticed by others
- Feeling tired or sleepy all of the time
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping more than usual
- Inability to concentrate or make decisions
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- People who feel depressed may also have physical symptoms, such as headaches, body aches or stomach problems.
If you, or someone you know is experiencing some of these depressive symptoms, it is important to talk with a healthcare professional about it. In addition to caring others in your life, a good starting place would be your medical doctor or one the professional Employee and Family Assistance Program counsellors here at Vancouver Island Counselling.