We all feel blue or sad at times, but these feelings usually pass within a few days. But depression lasts weeks or months and should be taken seriously. Most people need treatment in order to get better.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, both men and women can be affected by depression.The symptoms of depressive illnesses vary in severity, frequency, and duration depending on the individual and their particular illness. Unfortunately, few with a depressive illness ever seek treatment.
Anxiety disorders , such as Post–Traumatic Stress Disorder, obsessive– compulsive disorder, panic disorder, social phobia, and generalized anxiety disorder, often have depression too.
More than 40 percent of people with PTSD also had depression.
PTSD can result when a person experiences an overwhelming event or ordeal, such as an assault, a natural disaster, a car accident, or military combat. Even witnessing one of these can cause trauma and PTSD. Symptoms can include re–living the traumatic ordeal in flashbacks, memories, or nightmares. Irritability, outbursts of anger, intense guilt and/or shame, and trying to avoid talking about the traumatic event are also signs of trauma.
Trauma can also cause feelings of exhaustion, helplessness, and hopelessness, which are the same as the symptoms for Depression. Most people, however, seek to treat the depression with medication and avoid looking at the real root of the problem–trauma that caused the depression. In fact, research has shown that depression and substance abuse, alcohol and prescribed medication, tend to go hand-in-hand and is pervasive in the U.S. population.
Although there can be other causes for depression–biochemical imbalances, genetic and psychological factors–that may have nothing to do with trauma, seeking treatment for a known or suspected trauma is the best place to start. Medications that treat only depression may mask the symptoms and provide some relief, but they still leave the underlying cause intact. If the traumas are left untreated, the other symptoms of PTSD will float to the top.
It may be extremely difficult to take any action to help yourself. But know that these feelings are part of the trauma. As trauma and PTSD is recognized and treatment begins, negative feelings and obsessive thinking will fade. The accompanying depression will lift, and you’ll find that the vitality you once enjoyed and the desire to live fully will return.
If you won’t do it for yourself, do it for your family and friends. They are suffering too.
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