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If you or someone you know experiences persistent sadness, it could be more than just a mood swing. It could be a sign of depression. Fortunately, your mental health provider can help.

What you need to know about depression

Depression is a serious medical condition affecting how you feel about the world, yourself, and your environment. The condition causes persistent feelings of sadness and lack of interest.

Causes and risk factors for depression

Several things can cause depression, including:

  • Individual characteristics because there are differences in brain chemicals
  • Genetics because depression runs in families
  • Personality because low self-esteem, low-stress tolerance, and general pessimism can all contribute to depression
  • Environment because exposure to neglect, abuse, poverty, or violence can cause depression

Signs and symptoms of depression

According to the American Psychiatric Association, signs and symptoms of depression include:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness or depressed mood
  • Loss of interest in things you once enjoyed
  • Appetite changes, either eating more or less than usual
  • Changes in sleep patterns, either sleeping too little or too much
  • Lack of energy or increasing fatigue or malaise
  • Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, or guilt
  • Inability to concentrate, focus, or make decisions
  • Increase in purposeless activities like pacing or wringing of hands
  • Thoughts of suicide or death

How depression is treated?

Depression is a very treatable condition, and professional treatment generally consists of:

  • Medication therapy, including antidepressants to modify brain chemistry
  • Psychotherapy, including cognitive behavioral therapy to help manage and reframe negative thoughts into positive ones
  • Group or family therapy to provide support and a feeling of belonging
  • Lifestyle modification, including exercise, eating a healthy diet and getting enough sleep to help minimize symptoms
  • Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) for individuals with major depression who are not responding to other treatments

To find out more about the signs, symptoms, and treatment of depression, or to schedule an appointment, call the mental health providers at Ear to Ear Behavioral Health Solutions in Chicago, IL. Call today.