One in four women and one in 10 men can expect to develop depression during their lifetime, according to the American Psychiatric Association. However, many people do not recognize their depression as an illness and therefore don’t get treatment.
Research done by the National Institute of Mental Health showed three things have been linked to depression: family history, stressful environment, psychological makeup, or a combination of these three.
No matter what the triggering factor is, NIMH research shows that individuals with depressive illnesses, “often have too little or too much of certain neurochemicals.” The most prominent of these is the neurotransmitter serotonin. Scientists believe a deficiency of this chemical may cause the sleep problems, irritability and anxiety associated with depression.
In order to treat the illness, it’s important to recognize signs of depression. NIMH says symptoms can include:
–Feelings of hopelessness, guilt or worthlessness
–Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
–Drastic appetite changes
–Decreased energy or fatigue
–Thoughts of death or suicide
–Restlessness or irritability
–Difficulty concentrating and/or remembering
The Utah State Mental Health Association says that depression is one of the most common and treatable forms of mental illness. Few people seek treatment however because of stigmas associated with having a mental health problem.
Elizabeth, a BYU student who suffers from depression, said that it was hard for her to deal with having to depend on medication for the rest of her life until she began to see that her depression was a disease, much like someone suffering from diabetes.
David Sorenson, director of the Counseling and Development Center at BYU, said the program offers individual or group therapy to students. It also works closely with the McDonald Health Center in order to provide medication as well as counseling.