Lynn Mary Karjala, Ph.D.
In the usual course of day-to-day living, almost everyone experiences ups and downs. That's normal, and even healthy. Life becomes rather dull and stagnant otherwise. Depression is something different, however. It's much more serious--and needs to be taken seriously. Fortunately, it's also very treatable.
Depression comes in more than one form. It can be overwhelming and incapacitating, or it can be subtle and draining. The symptoms of the major kind of depression include
If you have five or more of these symptoms and they have lasted for more than two weeks, it's likely that you are experiencing an episode of major depression. Depression can interfere with your ability to function in every area of life. In its most severe form, depression can be fatal.
Depression isn't always this intense, however. It's also possible to have a more subtle kind of chronic depression. The symptoms aren't as pronounced, but they go on and on for a long time, even for years. People who are chronically depressed may not realize that they're depressed, because it's gone on for so long that it feels "normal." To those around them, they often just appear grumpy, irritable, and critical of themselves and others. They rarely (if ever) seem to experience joy or excitement about anything.
Modern-day treatments for depression are highly successful in most cases. Psychotherapy, possibly supplemented by antidepressant medication, has been proven to be a very effective form of treatment. It would also be a good idea to get a thorough medical checkup to rule out certain physical conditions, such as thyroid problems, that can contribute to depression.
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The author is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Roswell, Georgia. For more information, please visit the home page of her web site at www.karjala.com.
Dr. Karjala welcomes comments about this article, which may be sent via e-mail using the form provided on her home page. However, she regrets that she is unable to offer individual, personal advice via e-mail or the Web.
Copyright (c) 1999 Lynn Mary Karjala