SHERMAN, TX -- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated one in ten adults report depression. In Texas alone, 11.3% of sufferers end it in suicide. This Moms Everyday Health segment, takes a closer look at this sometimes debilitating mental illness, its symptoms and its treatment options.
Low energy, feeling worthless, weight change and irritability are just some of the many symptoms of depression. Among the groups most likely to suffer from major depression include those aged 45 to 64 and women, specifically new moms. Until you screen for it, you may not even know you have it.
Dr. Robert Hernandez of Primary Medicine of North Texas in Sherman illustrates its affects using an example of jumping into a cold pool during a hot summer:
"It may be 85 degrees but compared to the ambient temperature, it's really cold. In time you get used to it," he says. "When you've been swimming in the pool of depression for a long enough period of time you kind of get used to it. So on the inside or maybe even hourly you seem and feel depressed and its just your normal day-to-day activities, your normal way of activity."
Many researchers feel depression leads to changes in brain chemistry. Adults 18-24 years were most likely to report depression. But many moms are unwilling to get help because of the stigma society places mental illnesses. And, for many moms, it's important to appear strong for their family.
"(There's) a sense of weakness when you say I'm depressed. Like we have any choice!" Rodriguez exclaims. "It's a biochemical imbalance in common hormones in the brain: Serotonin, epinephrine, histamine, dopamine...those are the common ones that are involved. There's no weakness in not being able to control your hormones."
For those already diagnosed with common chronic conditions like arthritis, asthma or diabetes, depression can make it worse. Add that to increased work absenteeism and decreased productivity, this mental affliction can become quite costly. But there's good news in the form of treatment.
"It's affordable to treat. Some of the older medicines like Fluoxetine, old Prozac, is a very powerful tool in treating depression. It's exciting because it's weight neutral or causes weight loss which is another thing a lot of depressed people suffer from. One of the ways that they cope with their depression is they might eat or smoke or drink and Fluoxetine in and of itself is a wonderful component," Rodriguez says.
Talking out your feelings with a therapist on a regular basis is another great tool but one of the best treatments doesn't need an appointment or prescription.
"Get some exercise," Rodriguez advises. " Do it early in the morning or late in the evening. Just get up and walk around. I tell my patients to walk 5 minutes that way and 5 minutes back and, in time, what you will find, is you're doing it for longer periods of time."
If you think you may be suffering from depression, it's important to seek help from your primary care doctor or mental health specialist. If diagnosed, effective treatment can then be provided with careful monitoring and follow-up.
Dr. Robert Hernandez
Primary Medicine of North Texas
140 W. Lamberth Road #C
Sherman, TX 75092
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*Some footage provided by youtube and Abby Powell.