Depression symptoms

How to tell if you may be depressed:

  • persistent sadness
  • anxious or empty mood
  • feelings of hopelessness, pessimism
  • feelings of guilt, worthlessness and helplessness
  • loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies
  • difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions
  • insomnia or oversleeping

Take this quiz and see if you might be suffering from depression.

An article from the Financial Times (more of an op-ed piece) tackles the sensitive issue of men and mental illness. The author, Robert Teed, wisely writes:

    “[Men] are traditionally more stoical, preferring to take the course of a stiff upper lip or straightforward denial. Sometimes, it is not until a mental illness has manifested itself as a physical one… that men seek medical help…”

Having had a father who suffered from paranoia and schizophrenia – I never learned his real diagnosis but I
think that’s accurate – I can wholly understand the context of this statement. My father until he was forced on medication denied that he was mentally ill. My mother helped to cover this up, until he was convinced that he heard voices telling him to do things like drive to an unspecified location or wander in the streets for days at a time
without telling anyone.

    “In spite of many barriers broken down over the past few decades, mental illness is still shrouded in ignorance and taboo.”

Teed cites that the World Health Organization (WHO) predicts depression will be the second most costly illness (behind heart problems) by 2020.

    “I know from bitter experience just how hard it is… when you have not been yourself for a long time, to know exactly what ‘being yourself’ is anymore.”

The most common triggers of male depression, according to Teed: the death of a loved one, redundancy (especially in the workplace) and marital problems.

BBC Stat:

  • One woman in 15 and one man in 30 are affected by depression each year and nearly 44 adults in every 1,000 are estimated to have an anxiety disorder.

(Stat Q: How many men, more so than women, probably go undiagnosed?)

Britain’s National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) do not recommend anti-depressants for mild depression but prefer Prozac and Seroxat over other anti-d’s because they have a lower risk of discontinuation due to side effects.

BBC Stat:

  • In 1997, 6.5 million prescriptions were written for selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) anti-d’s. That figure rose to 13.3 million by 2002.

(Stat Q: Are those figures up because more people are depressed, more people are aware of their depression and are willing to take medication or are doctors flippantly prescribing medication? Such a high jump doesn’t seem responsible. I think the drug companies simply have a good ad campaign going.)

Doctors consider SSRIs safer than older tricyclic drugs which have a high overdose risk. Nevertheless, any patient on anti-d’s must either gradually taper off of anti-d’s or brace for possible side effects.

According to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority (MHRA), analysis of data by the Committee on Safety of Medicines (CSM) experts showed “a modest increase in the risk of suicide from SSRIs compared to placebos” in adults. But (!) compared to other anti-depressants, SSRIs posed no additional risk. (As if a modest risk isn’t work enough.) The MHRA also recommends closer monitoring of adults ages 18-30 on SSRIs.

Kent Woods, chief executive of the MHRA, insists, “The benefits of SSRIs in adults are still considered to outweigh the risk of adverse drug reactions.”

People – especially those with mild depression – need to know that SSRIs aren’t a cure and in most cases, aren’t even
needed. Proper counseling and therapy will aid people with mild to moderate depression.

At the American Diabetes Association conference in Washington, scientists presented findings that people at risk for
diabetes may want to stay away from antidepressants. Overweight patients with a high risk for developing diabetes were more likely to develop the disease with anti-d’s. While those with type 2 diabetes are more prone to depression after being diagnosed, Dr. Lawrence Fisher of the University of California in San Francisco says that about one in every five or six patients with type 2 diabetes reported symptoms of depression.

And in already reported news, I wanted to reiterate that the anti-d fluoxetine will not help patients with anorexia nervosa maintain their restored body weight or reduce their risk of relapse. Apologies to Nicole Richie and Lindsay

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