October 18, 2010
According to William Eaton, the Sylvia and Harold Halpert Professor in Mental Health and chair of the Bloomberg School's Department of Mental Health, “depression is responsible for a higher percentage of disability-adjusted life years around the world than other important chronic medical conditions such as heart disease or diabetes, and it leads to greater absenteeism and loss of productivity at work.” Depression may exhibit itself in one of many different ways, including feelings of sadness, “emptiness,” restlessness, problems sleeping, fatigue, or inability to concentrate; unintended weight changes and suicidal thoughts or actions.
How does one differentiate between occasional sad feelings and actual depression? The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services suggests that if a cluster of these feelings last for more than two weeks, one may be clinically depressed. The best step to take if someone fears that he or she or someone they love is experiencing depression is to talk with a professional, whether that be a medical doctor or a mental health provider. Additional personal care actions to help deal with and prevent depression include writing in a journal to monitor and express emotions; eating regular, well-balanced meals; and obtaining plenty of sleep and physical activity. In cases of severe depression and possible suicide, call the 24-hour National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
For more information on recognizing and combating depression, visit healthfinder.gov.Every Monday, the Johns Hopkins Healthy Monday Project, part of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, offers tips for preventing disease and injury, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Check back each week for new tips or visit our archive.