Health beat: Get help for depression and anxiety

Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Depressed teenage girl lying down

Many Americans suffer from depression and anxiety. Studies show these health problems and illnesses affect about 1 in 5 Americans. A situation such as the loss of a loved one or financial distress can trigger or increase depression and anxiety.

Do you know the signs?

Someone who is depressed has feelings of sadness or anxiety that last for weeks at a time. He or she may also experience:

* Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism

* Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and/or helplessness

* Irritability, restlessness

* Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable

* Fatigue and decreased energy

* Difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions

* Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness or excessive sleeping

* Overeating, or appetite loss

* Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts

* Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps or digestive problems that do not get better, even with treatment

Effective treatment exists

People who suffer from depression or anxiety should seek help as early as possible. Most adults see an improvement in their symptoms when treated with antidepressant drugs, psychotherapy, or a combination of both. Unfortunately, many never seek treatment. New research suggests that minorities and people with less than a high school education may be less likely to be diagnosed for depression. It is often difficult for depressed or anxious people to believe that things can get better. Try not to let hopelessness or shame stop you or a friend from getting medical help. Take action.

Where to find help

If you or someone you care about is in crisis, please seek help immediately.

* Call 911

* Visit a nearby emergency department or your health care provider's office

* Call the toll-free, 24-hour hotline of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255; TTY: 800-799-4889 to talk to a trained counselor.

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