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THE SILENT KILLER: The Warning Signs of Depression


Depression is a common mental health disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. In fact, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 264 million people of all ages suffer from depression worldwide. In the United States, an estimated 17.3 million adults (7.1% of the adult population) had at least one major depressive episode in 2019, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Those numbers increased through the COVID-19. pandemic. Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, according to the WHO.


Depression is more common among women than men, with women experiencing depression at a rate of about 2:1 compared to men. Recent statistics also show that depression among teens and adolescents are very high. In a recent blog we addressed this issue. We also noted that suicide is a major complication of depression. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States and the second leading cause of death among individuals aged 10-34.


Depression can affect people in different ways, and the symptoms can vary from person to person. However, there are some common warning signs and symptoms that may indicate that someone is experiencing depression. Some of these signs and symptoms include:


1. Persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or helplessness

2. Loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyable

3. Changes in appetite and weight (loss or gain)

4. Chances in sleep patterns (sleeping too little or too much)

5. Fatigue and low energy levels

6. Difficulty concentrating, making decisions, or remembering things

7. Irritability, restlessness, or easily agitated

8. Feelings of emptiness, worthlessness or guilt

9. Physical symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches, or random muscle pain

10. Recurring thoughts of death or suicide

11. Inability to work or focus on the job

12. Self-medicating with substances


Not everyone who is experiencing depression will display all of these symptoms, and some people may display symptoms that are not on this list.  Depression is treatable, but unfortunately, many people do not seek treatment. According to the NIMH, only about half of the people with depression seek treatment. This should change. This is also why we need a reminder each May with an emphasis on mental health awareness.


It's important to note that depression is a complex disorder, and the statistics may vary depending on various factors, such as age, gender, ethnicity, and geographic location. If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of depression, it's important to seek help from a mental health professional. One option is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You can also text “HOME” to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.


With appropriate treatment, depression can be effectively managed. There is hope. Take your mental health seriously.


You are loved.

Dr. Ray Reynolds


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