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We’ve all been sad at some point in our life. Whether it is a bad break up or the loss of your favorite sports team…. (perhaps in a super bowl-esque event)… whatever the cause, we have all been there. For some of us, this may interfere with how we engage in our own lives for a few days to a few weeks. However, for 16.1 million Americans age 18 and up in any given year, these symptoms go on for 6 months or longer.

Depression can be an invisible illness, causing well intention-ed friends and family to advise “getting some fresh air” or just “snapping out of it”. This is not helpful, guys. You wouldn’t tell someone suffering with pneumonia to “just stop coughing” (hopefully not, anyway). No, you would tell them that they have a health issue that needs to be treated.

See, that’s the thing. Depression can be treated – quite effectively actually-but when people dismiss depression symptoms and consider them voluntary life choices, potentially to be improved by adopting a better attitude, this can be demoralizing, causing people to shut down. This is an important thing to remember as only a little over half of those 16 million Americans seek treatment.

Symptoms of depression can consist of feeling sad, loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed, changes in appetite, changes in sleeping pattern, decreased self-worth, trouble concentrating, or thoughts of death or suicide. Some symptoms, if mild to moderate, will respond to therapy. For more severe depression, or depression not responding to therapy alone, there are medications.

Remember, you are not alone. Help is out there. If you or a loved one are battling depression on your own, it is time to reach out to your health care provider today.

Brooke Rieth, FNP

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