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Early treatment of depression important

POSTED October 22, 2013 11:28 p.m.

Millions of Americans are suffering from depression, a common mental illness that heavily interferes with one’s life if left untreated.

According to Dr. Daniel Berkow, director of psychological counseling services at California State University, Stanislaus, leaving depression untreated can have severe consequences.

“It is extremely important to treat depression when the symptoms first start showing,” said Berkow. “If left untreated, depression can lead to serious consequences and outcomes that could have been averted if treated appropriately. Getting such treatment can lead to a more positive life experience, and of course, is important for a person’s wellbeing.”

Common signs and symptoms of depression include low energy levels, a loss of motivation or enjoyment, feelings of sadness or apathy, lack of sleep, a decrease in appetite and even thoughts of death or suicide.

“Many people with depression may notice that they have been crying very frequently but can’t say exactly why they’re crying,” said Berkow. “Most of the time they don’t feel better after crying; there’s just a real heaviness they experience. They tend to feel hopeless, like things won’t get better and it causes them to view themselves, the world, and the future negatively.”

Depression can adversely affect a person's physical health and cause symptoms such as aches and pains, as their immune system decreases, noted Berkow. The mental illness can also create a negative spiral in one’s life that can interfere with work, relationships and basic daily productivity.

While treatment for depression typically involves a combination of counseling and medication such as antidepressants, Berkow says that there are preventive measures one can take as well.

“The best preventive measures are to have healthy, supportive, positive relationships and to have constructive goals in your life that you put energy towards,” said Berkow. “It is important to not over do alcohol and to not partake in any illegal substances. Give yourself credit for positive achievements and positive interactions with other people. Try to enjoy the day and always express appreciation for the little things in life. All of these things together can help become a buffer towards the tendencies to becoming depressed.”

A depression screening test can help determine whether one is experiencing common symptoms associated with the mental health condition. To take a screening test, ask your physician or healthcare provider or visit www.mentalhealthamerica.net

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