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  • Sam DiFranco

Are you depressed?

Understanding Depression

Depression is a serious, but common, illness: One in 10 adults report experiencing depression, and the condition is the most common cause of disability in the United States. The lifetime risk of any individual person becoming depressed is around 17 percent, and most people have their first bout of depression in their late teens or early twenties. The condition is slightly more common among women, but some researchers speculate that this may be because men are less likely to seek help or because their symptoms are more likely to manifest as anger than sadness.

Both environmental and physiological factors can cause depression. Most mental health experts now agree that brain chemistry plays a major role. The level of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin in the brain can affect a person’s risk of becoming depressed. However, life experiences affect brain chemistry, and some people become depressed after experiencing a trauma or stressful life change such as a separation or divorce, the death of a spouse, being laid off from a job, financial instability, relocation, or a decline in health. Everyday stressors, like social isolation, domestic violence, and the presence of other psychological conditions, can also contribute to depression. Sometimes depression arises as a defense mechanism in order to avoid experiencing painful emotions. Women who have recently given birth may struggle with postpartum depression in the days, weeks, or months following childbirth.

Depression’s symptoms are distinct from the symptoms associated with grief, when feeling emotionally overwhelmed is normal and temporary. Depression may be indicated when feelings of sadness and despair disrupt daily life and persist for more than two weeks.

Those who have experienced trauma or are prone to anxiety may be more likely to experience depression than those who have not, and research suggests that some people may be biologically predisposed to depression due to neurochemical abnormalities. A family history of depression can lead to a person’s inheriting or learning these traits.

If this sounds like you or someone you love, reach out to Starpoint Counseling Center. We have offices in Tampa and Brandon and can schedule your visit to speak with a therapist. Call or text us at (813) 244-1251

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