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Depression; Facts to Know.

Depression afflicts more than 12 million American women each year and strikes women two to three times as often as men. Biological differences in women, such as hormonal changes and genetic factors, may contribute to higher rates of depression. Stress experienced by women from work- and family-related responsibilities, poverty or abuse may also play a role. After one episode of depression, a woman has a 50 percent chance that depression will recur at some point in her life.

Depression is not something you can just "get over." It is a complex medical condition. Depression is thought to be triggered by low levels of certain brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. Serotonin, one example of a neurotransmitter, has been identified as a major player in depression and other mental illnesses.

Prolonged stress, loss, substance abuse, some medications and certain illnesses can trigger depression in people who are susceptible to it. Depression also can occur spontaneously, without any apparent trigger.

Antidepressant medications can greatly relieve symptoms for most people who suffer from depression. Newer medications with fewer side effects have been developed in the last decade, offering more options for people with this illness.

Depression is likely to show up in more than one family member or generation.

Depression often strikes between the ages of 25 and 44; teenagers may also develop depression. It can last for weeks, months, years or a lifetime, if not diagnosed and treated. Anyone, regardless of income, education or status can suffer from this disease.

Depression often gets translated into physical complaints. It can be mistaken for other illnesses by both a health care professional and the patient herself, instead of being properly recognized and diagnosed.

About 15 percent of people suffering from severe depression will commit suicide. If not treated, depression can spiral into feelings of worthlessness, despair and suicide. Early intervention and treatment can reverse these feelings and make life seem livable again.

About eight percent to 15 percent of women report diagnosable postpartum depression, which is more severe and long-lasting than the "baby blues," within six months of delivery, and if you've had prior depressive episodes, you have a much higher risk.

Chronic but mild depression, or dysthymia, is marked by low energy, a general negativity, and a sense of dissatisfaction and hopelessness. A person suffering from dysthymia may experience many of the same symptoms that occur in major depression, but they are less intense and last much longer-at least two years.


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Keywords: depression, women, stress, suicide, medications
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Publication:NWHRC Health Center - Depression
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 12, 2006
Previous Article:Depression; Prevention.
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