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It must be noted that many who appear to be depressed are in fact struggling with the normal mental fallout from a recent emotional blow, such as a divorce or the loss of a job. Misdiagnosis may occur due to the desire of both the individual and the primary care physicians to treat with medication immediately. As a result, healthcare professionals should be aware that depression is specific to the following symptoms. Therefore, considering the possibility that the condition is normal melancholy is important.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health the symptoms of depression will last longer than a few days. If the symptoms listed below persist for a few weeks, intervention is required:2

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood

  • Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism

  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness

  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed, including sexual activity

  • Decreased energy, fatigue sometimes noted as being “slowed down”

  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, and making decisions

  • Insomnia, early-morning awakening or oversleeping

  • Decrease in appetite and/or weight loss or overeating and weight gain

  • Restlessness and/or irritability

  • Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain

  • Thoughts of death or suicide, which might include suicide attempts. Suicide is the by far the most serious consequence of an untreated major depressive disorder.

    • Principal cause of the 30,000 suicides in the U.S. each year.7

    • In 2005, suicide was the 11th leading cause of death in the United States, third among individuals 15-24.11

    • More than 90% of people who die by suicide have depression, other mental disorders, or a substance-abuse disorder.12

    • Suicide is the eighth leading cause of death for males and the sixteenth leading cause for females.11

    • Although the elderly comprise only 12% of the U.S. population, people age 65 and older accounted for 16% of suicide deaths in





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