Twenty percent of all adults (1 in 5) will experience depression during their lifetime. Women are diagnosed with depression almost twice as much as are men. Fewer than 30% of the people suffering from depression will seek treatment, although over 80% of those who do seek help will experience significant improvement.

How Do You Know If a Person is Depressed?

If you or someone you know exhibits four or more of the following symptoms for more than two weeks, professional help should be considered.

  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Frequent wakening in the middle of the night
  • Eating too much or too little
  • Inability to function at work or school
  • Headaches, digestive disorders, nausea, pain with no medical basis
  • Excessive crying
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Lack of energy, constant fatigue
  • Slowed thinking
  • Difficulty in concentrating, remembering, making decisions
  • Loss of interest in daily activities
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety, hopelessness
  • Restlessness, agitation, irritability
  • Feelings of inappropriate guilt or worthlessness

How to Help Someone Who is Depressed

  • Be supportive and patient; let the person know that you are concerned and you care
  • Don’t blame the person or get angry
  • Don’t be overly cheerful, try to make the person smile, or give false assurances
  • Tell the person that depression is not a sign of weakness
  • Encourage the person to seek professional help

How to Help Yourself

  • Change your normal routine — take a break and do something fun, even if you don’t feel like it
  • Exercise; do something active
  • Avoid stress
  • Avoid making major changes or decisions until you feel better
  • Seek professional help if symptoms persist
  • Relax and enjoy (or tolerate) your feelings of sadness
  • Talk your feelings out with someone you trust
  • Have a good cry
  • Analyze the situation; try to pinpoint the source of your depression
  • Eat right; especially focus on increasing your intake of B vitamins
  • Write — or draw — your feelings
  • Check out the assumptions you are making which are leading to your depression
  • Treat others with respect
  • Avoid shopping or eating binges