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How to Understand Depression

Many people experience depression in their lifetime; do you know what you need to know about depression?

By
Rob Lamberts, MD,
September 28, 2010
Episode #065

Page 2 of 3

Why Is Depression Often Misdiagnosed?

Nearly 20% of the U.S. population has an episode of major depression in their lifetime.

But how could that be?  There is a certain stigma attached to depression, because in the past, people who were depressed were often falsely considered either too emotionally weak to face the hardness of life or just plain crazy.  That perception was, in part, due to the fact that the old depression medications were very strong and had bad side effects.  The only people who got put on these drugs were those with very bad depression.

How Does Depression Affect People?

There’s a vicious cycle with depression.  Many depressed people don’t sleep, which makes them tired and unfocused.  That in turn can make them more likely to struggle at work or school, causing poor reviews or grades, which makes them more depressed—and so on.

Additionally, a person with depression is generally sad, has no energy, and feels bad about his or herself.  They need to get help, spend time around other people, and find things that make them feel good.  But depressed people often isolate themselves.  It’s hard for them to be around people who ask how they’re doing, and even more difficult when people try to fix their problems.  So as to avoid those situations, the person often feels more depressed and becomes more withdrawn, making matters even worse.  It’s like they’ve painted themselves into a corner.

And if depressed people have feelings of death or suicide, they may isolate themselves even further. Having suicidal thoughts can make depressed people believe they’re crazy or weak. They don’t want others to know about the thoughts and so they isolate themselves even more, making their depression worse. They may interact with others if they have to, but they don’t connect.

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