In our current society, depression has become an increasing problem. Suicide is now the 11th leading cause of death for all Americans, and the 3rd leading cause for people aged 15-24. It's important to be aware of the signs of depression so that this statistic can be reduced substantially in the future.

Depression is a psychological problem. Chemical imbalances in the brain can trigger stress, but PhD psychologist Donald J. Franklin said that all psychological problems also have psychological factors. There are numerous psychological causes of depression. Among the top causes are:

· Low self-esteem
· Overwhelming stress
· A serious loss
· Chronic illness
· Social learning problems
· Life problems (family, educational, social, work, etc)
· Lack of encouragement at home
· Relationship problems
· Family crisis
· Financial problems

According to Dr. Franklin, there are many symptoms of depression. People can
experience changes in thinking, feelings, behavior, and in physical well-being. A very pessimistic attitude is one of the symptoms. Another is having persistent sadness, which sometimes occurs for no reason at all. Poor self-esteem, self-criticism, and irritability are among other symptoms. In addition, people suffering from depression may have a lack of motivation. Many will be uninterested in activities that they once found enjoyable. They may also have sudden changes in their appetites, and may start to eat much more or much less. In addition, depression sufferers may experience chronic fatigue despite getting adequate amounts of sleep. Many may find that they are unable to sleep well at night. Finally, many people may have overwhelming feelings of hopelessness and may have frequent thoughts about death and suicide.

Many of the symptoms of depression are not recognized easily. Dr. Franklin said that this prevents almost two-thirds of depressed people from getting the appropriate treatment. He said that depression can be misdiagnosed as laziness or weakness. Also, many people suffering from depression are discouraged from seeking treatment because they're embarrassed or ashamed of their condition. Sometimes the symptoms of depression are so severe that people are incapable of reaching out for help. Finally, Dr. Franklin said the individual symptoms of depression may be treated, but the underlying cause of the symptoms is often overlooked.

Once someone is diagnosed with depression, there are many different types of treatments. A doctor or psychiatrist can prescribe antidepressant medications. Among these medications are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These medications increase the amount of serotonin in the brain. This allows the serotonin messages in the brain to come through like they should, and helps to activate the cells that have been deactivated by depression. When these cells are activated, the symptoms of a person's depression are usually relieved. Other types of antidepressants are dual action antidepressants, atypical antidepressants, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), and tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs).

People suffering from depression can also be treated with electroconvulsive therapy. This is a procedure in which an electric current is passed through the brain. This current helps to control seizures. This is a procedure that is usually used if a patient does not find adequate relief from antidepressant medications.

Psychotherapy is another treatment for depression. Cognitive therapy is where therapists help patients to change their ways of thinking. They help people suffering from depression to get away from their negative attitudes behaviors. Getting rid of these negative attitudes and ways of thinking helps to treat depression considerably.

There are also many things people with depression can do to help themselves. They can try to spend more time with friends and family rather than spending time alone. They should avoid setting extremely high expectations and taking on great deals of responsibilities from themselves. They should also refrain from making any life-altering decisions. In addition, they can try to do moderate amounts of exercise and participate in other activities that they find enjoyable. Most importantly, they should not try to accept their pessimism. Instead, they should try to focus on thinking more positively.

There is hope for people who suffer from depression. It is a very common psychological problem. According to Dr. Franklin, with proper treatment, approximately 80 % of people with depression can make significant improvement with their attitudes and lives.





















United States Suicide Rates: 1900-1999

The graph shown above shows the suicide rates between the years 1900 and 1999.

A serious loss, like the loss of a close family member, can trigger depression. 

People who are depressed often feel as though they have a permanent dark rain cloud hanging over them.

People who are depressed often isolate themselves from their friends and family. They lack motivation to do activities that they once found enjoyable.