Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Depression (But Were Afraid to Ask)

Monday, November 26, 2012

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Depression affects about 15,000,000 American adults every year. Women are more likely to get depression than men. In general, about 1 out of every 4 women will get depression at some point in her life. People who are depressed are twice as likely as others to be smokers. They also have a harder time quitting and staying quit. So it’s important to know as much as you can about depression when you quit smoking.

Here are 9 frequently asked questions: 

  1. What is depression?
    Depression is more than feeling sad or having a bad day. People with depression usually experience other signs like the following for two weeks or longer: feeling sad all the time; not wanting to do things that used to be fun; feeling grumpy, easily frustrated, or restless; changes in sleep (trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, waking up too early, or sleeping too much); eating more or less than you used to; trouble thinking; feeling tired, even after sleeping well; feeling worthless; and thinking about dying or hurting themselves. 

  2. What causes depression? 
    There are many things that increase a person’s chance of getting depressed. Everyone is different, common things that can lead to depression include having lots of stress, going through a difficult life event or big change (even if it was planned), having medical problem, taking  medication that is known to cause depression, using alcohol or drugs, and having blood relatives who have had depression. 

  3. Who gets depression? 
    Anyone can get depressed. Depression can happen at any age and to any type of person. But women, smokers, people with medical problems, and people who are stressed seem more likely to get depressed than others. Women are more likely to get depression than men. In fact, for every 1 man with depression, there are 2 women with it. About 1 out of every 4 women will have depression at some time in their life. In comparison, only 1 out of every 12 men will. Your race, ethnicity, or how much money you make doesn’t change your chance of getting depression. 

  4. How long does depression last? 
    Everyone is different. For some people, it will only last a few weeks, some for many months if not treated. For many people, depression is only a problem during really stressful times (like a divorce or the death of a loved one). For other people, depression happens off and on through their life. But, for both groups of people, there are treatments for depression that can help reduce the symptoms and shorten how long the feelings last. 

  5. How is depression different from withdrawal from smoking? 
    Mood changes are common after quitting smoking. You might be irritable, restless, or feel down or blue. Changes in mood from quitting smoking (withdrawal) usually get better in 1 or 2 weeks, and they are not as serious. If you find that you are feeling very down after quitting smoking, then you should talk about this with friends and family, and also call your doctor. 

  6. Why is depression more common in smokers? 
    Nobody knows why smokers are more likely to have depression than non-smokers, but there are a number of guesses. People who have depression might smoke to feel better. Or smokers might get depression more easily because they smoke. Other ideas are also possible. More research is needed to find out for sure. No matter what the cause, there are treatments that work for both depression and smoking. 

  7. If I get depressed after quitting smoking, should I start smoking again? 
    No. You should look for ways to get help with your depression. Smoking does not treat depression. Remember that smoking is linked to many serious health problems for both the smokers and the people around them. Finding ways to help your depression and quit smoking are the best way to go. 

  8. What are the treatments for depression? 

    There are many good treatments for depression, and more than 8 out of every 10 people who use them get better. Treatment usually means getting psychotherapy/counseling, taking medications, or doing both. Your doctor or a qualified mental health professional can help you figure out what treatment is best for you. 

  9. Is it worth getting treatment for depression? 
    Yes! Treatment almost always helps to reduce symptoms and shorten how long the depression lasts. A common problem is that too few people get help. Many people think that depression is not a real problem, can’t be all that serious, or is a sign that they are simply not tough enough to deal with life. None of these are true. 

*NOTE: This information is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis of major depression. It cannot take the place of seeing a mental health professional. It is common for people who are feeling bad to think about hurting themselves or dying.

If you or someone you know is experiencing thoughts of self-destruction or suicide, please seek immediate help. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to reach a 24-hour crisis center or dial 911. 1-800-273-TALK is available 24/7 to provide free, private help to people in crisis.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, runs the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

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