Feeling down on occasion is normal. Some people get the blues due to the season or something going on in their lives, such as the loss of a loved one or a job. But when temporary bouts of sadness, hopelessness, irritability or disinterest last for more than two weeks, it may be more than just the blues. It could be depression.
“Depression is a diagnosed medical condition that can be debilitating and even life-threatening,” said Dr. Rodney Poling, a psychiatrist on the medical staff at Maury Regional Medical Center. “Research shows there to be a strong link between depression and suicide.”
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, and rates have been rising sharply in recent years. Suicide rates increased by 25% from 1999 to 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2016 alone, 45,000 lives were lost to suicide.
Unfortunately, there is no single test that provides a definitive answer about whether or not someone has depression and what the cause may be. Doctors usually probe what is going on in the patient’s mind or brain first. But depression can also be caused by other medical conditions or can be a side effect from certain medication. Part of an evaluation for depression includes reviewing a patient’s entire health history.
If depression is diagnosed, the next step is finding an effective treatment. There is not a one-size-fits-all approach that will help everyone with depression. Treatments vary and what is effective for one person may not be for another. It may take time to find the treatment that works best. Getting screened for depression is the first step to getting the help needed.
If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.TALK (1.800.273.8255) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
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