The Dangers of Depression and the Need for Treatment
Feeling sad or blue every now and then can be expected considering the fast-paced lifestyle of today. When these feelings become more so the norm than the exception, some form of psychological disorder may be at work.
Compared to other conditions, depression ranks as the most prevalent mental health problem in the United States. According to the Washington University School of Medicine, an estimated 17.5 million Americans live with some form of depression. Of this number, as many as 9.2 million suffer from severe or clinical depression.
Depression develops out of a state of chemical imbalance in the brain that persists over time. When left untreated, this imbalance worsens leaving a person open to developing even more serious conditions.
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Whenever feelings of any sort start to impair a person’s quality of life in terms of being able to sleep, work, eat or feel some sense of satisfaction, psychological dysfunction is more often than not the culprit. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, depression disorders encompass a range of types and severities, including:
- Major depression
- Persistent depressive disorder
- Psychotic depression
- Seasonal affective disorder
- Postpartum depression
While certain types of depression tend to develop under specific circumstances, such as postpartum and seasonal affective forms, the overall effects on a person’s daily life remain the same.
Risk Factors Associated with Depression
The dangers of depression develop gradually over time perpetuated by the brain’s state of chemical imbalance and the corresponding thinking, emotional and behavioral patterns that only work to reinforce the condition. Common symptoms of depression include:
- Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
- Problems sleeping
- Muddled thinking
- Suicidal ideations
- Noticeable changes in weight
As depression’s effects on the brain tend to be progressive, someone who experiences a depression episode is twice as likely to experience another episode in the future compared to people unaffected by the condition, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. With each episode, symptoms only become more severe, which places suffers at increasing risk of self-harm.
Dual Diagnosis Disorder
An estimated two-thirds of people suffering from depression neglect to seek out needed treatment help. Not surprisingly, untreated depression can easily become a springboard for substance abuse behaviors to develop as a person attempts to self-medicate symptoms of depression with alcohol and drugs. Once the effects of the drug wears off, he or she is left feeling worse than before, which only prompts continued drug use.
Someone struggling with both depression and a substance abuse problem has developed a dual diagnosis condition. Like depression, substance abuse in any form causes brain chemical imbalances to form. In effect, depression and the effects of substance abuse tend to aggravate one another, worsening the severity of both conditions over time, according to the University of Utah Health Services.
In spite of the emotional turmoil depression brings, these conditions can be easy to overlook or ignore considering the stigma attached to mental illness in general. That being so, ignoring the problem only predisposes a person to the dangers of depression and the downward spiral that ensues.
The good news is depression is a treatable condition with a high success rate. Ultimately, getting needed treatment help can make all the difference in the world as far as your quality of life goes.
If you or someone you know struggles with ongoing feelings of depression and are considering getting help, please don’t hesitate to call our toll-free helpline at 800-481-6320 for more information on depression treatment or to locate treatment programs in your area.