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What You Should Know About Depression

depression, What You Should Know About Depression,

Depression is a mental health disorder that impacts the way a person feels, thinks, and behaves. It can make daily activities difficult and cause people to wonder if their life is even worth living. At Palms Behavioral Health in Harlingen, Texas, we treat people with depression every day, and we know that there is hope for recovery.

How Common is Depression?

It is estimated that around 1 in 10 people experience depression at any given time, with around 17 percent of people having at least one major depressive episode in their lifetime. A single episode may be all that a person experiences; however, it is also possible for a person to experience multiple episodes or to have persistent depression.

Symptoms of Depression

There are several different types of depression, and each person is unique in how they experience this mental health disorder. Some people may have all of the symptoms listed below, while others may experience only a few of them. To qualify for a depression diagnosis, an individual must have symptoms most of the day, nearly every day, for at least two weeks. Some common symptoms include: 

  • Unexplained physical problems like headaches and back pain
  • Difficult feelings like sadness, fearfulness, anger, irritability, guilt, worthlessness
  • Inability to experience pleasure from previously enjoyable activities
  • Changes in sleep or appetite, either getting too little or too much
  • Lack of energy
  • Slowed thinking, speech or movement
  • Recurrent thoughts of death, dying, or suicide, which may result in a suicide attempt

Though children and adolescents may experience symptoms similar to those listed above, they might also have additional symptoms, which could include:

  • Clinging to trusted adults
  • Refusing to attend school or having poor school performance
  • Self-harm

Older adults also experience depression, though their symptoms are frequently dismissed as a normal part of the aging process. Seniors are at especially high risk of suicide, so it is important to take signs of depression seriously across the lifespan.

Risk Factors for Depression

Although anyone can experience depression, some factors put certain people at greater risk than others:

  • Personality traits: low self-esteem, being overly dependent, pessimism
  • Trauma and stress: abuse, natural disasters, financial difficulties, loss of a loved one, divorce, mistreatment due to being part of the LGBT community
  • Family history of depression, bipolar disorder, alcohol use disorder or suicide
  • Personal history of other behavioral health conditions, like anxiety, eating disorders, PTSD, or substance use disorder
  • Serious physical health conditions
  • Certain medications

Suicide Risk

Never assume that a person who expresses suicidal thoughts is just saying things to get attention or that they are joking around. Take all statements of suicidality seriously. Depression places people at heightened risk of experiencing suicidal thoughts and making attempts to end their life. While it can be uncomfortable to talk about suicide, by asking about suicidal thoughts, it may be possible for you to save someone’s life and help them get the help they need. Some of the indications that a person is considering ending their life are:

  • Talking about wanting to die, being a burden to others, or loved ones being better off without them
  • Feeling trapped or hopeless about anything improving
  • Expressing that their physical or emotional pain is unbearable
  • Researching or making a plan for how to kill themselves
  • Making a will, giving away cherished possessions, and otherwise tying up loose ends
  • Saying goodbye to loved ones in a way that feels permanent
  • Increased use of substances

What to do if Someone is Suicidal

If you believe someone is suicidal, it is important to take immediate action. 

  • If the person is in immediate danger, call 911 or take them to the nearest emergency room. 
  • If they have had thoughts of ending their life and have made a plan, try to remove their access to whatever they might use to kill themselves. 
  • If it is not possible to entirely remove the item, try to reduce their access. For example, if they plan to shoot themselves with a firearm, but you aren’t able to remove the guns from their home, ensure that all firearms and ammunition are secured inside of a locked safe, preferably disassembled, and that the person does not have access to the safe.
  • Do not leave the person alone. Stay with them or make arrangements for another supportive person to be with them.
  • Help them to set up therapy and/or connect them with the 988 Crisis Lifeline so that they can talk to someone who is trained to help people who are struggling with suicidal thoughts.
  • Continue to check in with the person after the crisis has passed to ensure that they have any additional support they might need.

At Palms Behavioral Health, we see people during their darkest moments of depression, and we also witness their recovery. There is hope, and we are here to help.

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