Depression FAQs

Monday, November 26, 2012

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Depression affects about 15 million American adults every year. Women are more likely to get depression than men. In general, about one out of every four women will get depression at some point in her life. People who are depressed are twice as likely as others to be smokers. So it’s important to know as much as you can about depression when you quit smoking.

What is depression?
Depression is more than feeling sad or having a bad day. People with depression usually experience other signs 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 they used to
  • Trouble thinking
  • Feeling tired, even after sleeping well
  • Feeling worthless
  • Thinking about dying or hurting themselves

What causes depression?
While everyone is different, some 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 a medical problem, taking medication that is known to cause depression, using alcohol or drugs, and having blood relatives who have had depression.

Who gets depression?
Anyone can get depressed. But women, smokers, people with medical problems, and people who are stressed seem more likely to get depressed than others. Your race, ethnicity, or how much money you make doesn’t change your chance of getting depression.

How long does depression last?
For some people, depression will only last a few weeks; for others, it may last for months if not treated. For many people, depression is only a problem during very stressful times, like a divorce or the death of a loved one. For other people, depression happens off and on throughout their lifetime. But for both groups of people, treatments for depression can help reduce the symptoms and shorten how long the feelings last.

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 one or two weeks. If you find that you are feeling very down after quitting smoking, it may be helpful to talk about this with friends and family. Your doctor can also help.

Why is depression more common in smokers?
Smokers are more likely to have depression than non-smokers. The reasons are not clear, but there are a number of ideas. More research is needed to find out for sure. No matter what the cause, there are treatments that work for both depression and smoking.

If I get depressed after quitting smoking, should I start smoking again?
No. Finding ways to help your depression and stay smokefree are the best way to go. Once you get through the mood swings after the first couple of weeks, you will feel more powerful to fight the urge to smoke.

What are the treatments for depression?
There are many good treatments for depression, and most people who use them get better. Treatment usually means getting 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.

Is it worth getting treatment for depression?
Yes! Treatment almost always helps to reduce symptoms and shorten how long the depression lasts. Seeking treatment is a good investment in yourself.

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