Depression can affect a person’s mental and physical well-being. Untreated clinical depression is a serious problem that involves the body, mood and thoughts. It may alter the way a person eats and sleeps. Untreated depression can result in weight gain or loss, feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, and irritability. It can lead to risky behaviors and can also ruin relationships, cause problems at work and even affect serious illnesses.
Problems with sleep are one of the most telling signs of clinical depression. Insomnia, or the difficulty getting adequate sleep, can make a person feel an increased need for sleep and experience excessive energy loss. In addition, a lack of sleep can cause some of the same symptoms as depression.
Older adults are at risk of depression because of the frequent loss of loved ones and friends as they age. They also experience more chronic illnesses, major life changes and the transition into assisted living or nursing care. Anybody who expresses suicidal thoughts or intentions should be taken seriously. Contact a local suicide hotline immediately: Outagamie County Crisis Intervention 920-832-4646.
Depression also carries a high risk of suicide, although most people who suffer from clinical depression do not attempt suicide. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than 90 percent of people who die from suicide have depression or other mental disorders.
People who are depressed cannot simply “snap out of it.” Without proper treatment, including antidepressants or psychotherapy, untreated clinical depression can last for weeks, months or years.
A majority of people with clinical depression can be successfully treated with early recognition, intervention, and support. Treatment options include psychotherapy, medications or a combination of both.
By Sarah Haroldson, MD, ThedaCare Physicians-New London.