It is estimated that each year over 17 million American adults experience a bout of clinical depression. Depression is one of the most common psychological problems. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, "Depression is a serious medical illness; it's not something that you have made up in your head. It's more than just feeling "down in the dumps" or "blue" for a few days. It's feeling "down" and "low" and "hopeless" for weeks at a time. There are a variety of antidepressant medications and psychotherapies that can be used to treat depressive disorders. Some people with milder forms may do well with psychotherapy alone. People with moderate to severe depression most often benefit from antidepressants. Most do best with combined treatment: medication to gain relatively quick symptom relief and psychotherapy to learn more effective ways to deal with life's problems, including depression.
Symptoms can include: persistent sadness, anxiousness, or "empty" mood; feelings of hopelessness, pessimism; feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness: loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed. Women experience depression about twice as often as men. Children are not immune to depression.
Help is only a phone call away. While starting counseling is a major step, it is a sign of strength, not weakness. Today, more individuals, couples and families are entering counseling, not only to treat illnesses but improve their quality of life.
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