By Dr. Elaine Ducharme

Everyone experiences sadness from time to time. It is a normal feeling that can occur in response to a number of things including disappointment or loss. Depression, however, is characterized by extreme sadness that lasts more than several days. If untreated, depression can have harmful effects on the mind and body. It can cause disruption to daily life and research shows that it may be linked to various chronic illnesses.

Symptoms of depression can include lack of interest in everyday activities, significant changes in weight, difficulty or excessive sleeping, lack of energy, problems concentrating, feelings of worthlessness, excessive guilt and even thoughts of death or suicide.

Contrary to popular belief, people can’t just “snap out of it” and feel better right away. Unexpressed feelings and concerns accompanied by a sense of isolation can feel awful and leave people feeling they can never get better. But it is really important for people to know that even severe cases of depression can be effectively treated. While medication may be needed at times, many cases of depression respond extremely well to psychotherapy alone. Acknowledgement and support from family, friends and mental health professionals can also make a big difference.

When an individual is depressed, it is important to have a medical exam as depression can actually be a sign of other medical conditions such as untreated thyroid problems or even a reaction to some medications. Depression is also very common for individuals dealing with medical issues such as accepting a chronic illness and even in response to successful cardiac surgery.

If you or loved one is experiencing symptoms of depression, please reach out and consult with psychologist or other mental health professional trained to assess for and treat mood disorders.

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