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Major depression is defined when a person has 5 or more symptoms of depression for at least 2 weeks running. Here’s what that symptoms list looks like:

Agitation, restlessness, and irritability
Dramatic change in appetite
Extreme difficulty concentrating
Fatigue / lack of energy
Feelings of hopelessness
Feelings of worthlessness and inappropriate guilt
Inactivity and withdrawal from usual activities, a loss of interest or pleasure in activities that were once enjoyed
Thoughts of death or suicide
Trouble sleeping or excessive sleeping

Sometimes, depression manifests itself as anger or discouragement, not necessarily as hopelessness or helplessness.

Even the simplest things are difficult to do. For instance, a person who is an experience wig display window stylist for a hair salon is asked that to make a selection of Revlon wigs that will be displayed in the boutique’s window for the upcoming holiday season. This is a regular request that the owner makes as various wig manufacturers’ are individually highlighted every month. However, the display window stylist is slowly sinking into a serious depression. It’s all she can do to make it to work. Her fellow workers had noticed lately that she seemed agitated and rather irritable most of the time. She had stopped going out with them after work for their Friday night dinner and drinks and she had lost a lot of weight. And then this simple, ordinary request she had relished doing loads of times before, had her sitting in her office totally paralyzed and feeling hopeless. Fortunately, this woman had friends who knew she occasionally suffered from depression and recognized what was happening. She was treated with medication and counseling that helped her regain her old confidence and vanquished her symptoms of depression.

Though the exact cause of depression is not known, studies would indicate that it’s caused by chemical imbalances in the brain, which may be event-based trauma or hereditary. Fact is, depression can run in families, but it can also occur in people who have no family history of this disease. It can hit men and women of all ages and demographics, but does occur more often in women. Keep in mind that it can occur in in children and teenagers, who can also benefit from some of the treatment options available.

Speaking of treatments, there are options out there for depression in the form of medications and counseling, more often than not in tandem with the other. Medications include monoamine oxidase inhibitors, tricyclic antidepressants, selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, among other newer antidepressant drugs.

At times, lithium and thyroid supplements may be necessary to enhance antidepressants’ effectiveness of antidepressants. At the moment, research is underway on transcranial magnetic stimulation, such as light therapy, as a treatment option which alters brain function.

Here are some tips on how you can combat depression in a healthy way:

1. Avoid alcohol, caffeine and drugs, which worsens depression and could interfere with medications.
2. Eat well-balanced meals
3. Get regular exercise and sleep
4. Seek supportive relationships
5. Learn to relax and manage stress

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