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Depression - know the signs (part 1)

SAD (seasonal affective disorder)
SAD (seasonal affective disorder)
Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

As everyone knows by now, actor and funny man Robin Williams, unfortunately passed away last week and had been battling depression, according to those that knew him. Statistically about 9 percent of adults in America have feelings of hopelessness and 3 percent of adults have major depression, which is a longer lasting, severe form of depression.

Do you know some of the signs, symptoms and the different types of depression? There are several types of depression and most people believe that if a person is depressed they are just "depressed" but it can be severe and it can be life threatening if it is unnoticed and/or untreated. Here we will explore in a little more detail a few types of depression, including SAD, which is seasonal depression, and postpartum. Then in part 2, we will explore other depression disorders.

The first kind of depression is known as SAD or seasonal affective disorder. This type of depression usually occurs among people who live in places like the Pacific Northwest or very rainy and dreary parts of the country or the world where short daylight hours and rainy weather go pretty much hand in hand. SAD usually starts in the fall and ends in the spring or early summer. Doctors believe that less sunlight during the fall season causes the brain to produce less serotonin which is a chemical found in the brain that regulates mood. Some of the symptoms include: less energy, trouble concentrating, fatigue, larger appetite, and a greater need for sleep. An excellent treatment for SAD could possibly be light therapy. Light therapy uses a brighter than usual light shined indirectly into the eyes, taking care not to look directly into the light. This light is twenty times brighter than normal lighting while you are sitting two feet away, ten to fifteen minute sessions per day to start then increasing to thirty to forty five minutes depending on an individual's response to the therapy.

Postpartum depression is another form of depression that affects the behavioral, emotional, and physical aspect of a woman after a giving birth. This is a major depression that usually comes on within four weeks after delivery. It is linked to chemical, social and psychological changes associated with birth. The chemical changes involve a sudden and rapid drop in hormones usually by three days after delivery. This form of depression has a lot of the same symptoms as the other types of depression including: the number of children--the more you have, the more likely you are to be depressed in a subsequent pregnancy, age at the time of pregnancy--the younger you are, the higher the risk, decreased libido and thoughts of death or suicide. It is treatable through medication and counseling.

If you know of or if you are going through any type of depression, there is help: below you will find a hotline to call for yourself or someone else.

Do not hesitate to call your local suicide hotline immediately. Call 800-SUICIDE (800-784-2433) or 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255) or the deaf hotline at 800-799-4889.


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