Understanding Depression

"People with depression are four times more likely to develop a heart attack than those without a history of the illness."

Click one of these links to learn more:
What is depression?
What are the health risks of untreated depression?
Signs and symptoms?
Finding treatment
Miscellaneous resources


Ultimately you are best served by understanding this topic, and to do that you should take the exam.

1 - The first step is to

FutureHealth documentaries and presentations offer a comprehensive understanding about what depression looks like, what its dangers are, and how it can be prevented and treated.

2 - After watching the documentary, the next step is to STUDY THE EXAM SLIDES

FutureHealth Exam Slides go deeper into the topic providing you with in-depth information that will improve your understanding of the topic going forward.

3 - Once you have completed watching the documentary and studying the Exam Slides you should review this study page and when you feel you are ready you can TAKE THE EXAM

You need to achieve a minimum of 70% correct answers to pass the exam. It takes on average 20 minutes to complete the exam and you can leave and return to it later.

What is depression?

People of all ages and backgrounds experience feelings of sadness from time to time, but when those feelings last for prolonged periods and interfere with your daily functioning, there may be an underlying medical condition called depression.

Depression is the most common brain disease in the United States. What we call depression is actually a group of medical conditions defined by varying symptoms, duration, and severity. Those who suffer from depression may experience it in different ways.

About half of the 23 million Americans who experience symptoms of depression on any given day do not seek medical attention and so go undiagnosed and untreated. Left untreated, symptoms of depression may worsen and can last for years.

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What are the health risks?

When left untreated, depression can cause deterioration of one's general health marked by weight gain, insomnia, fatigue, substance abuse, academic problems, family or other relationship issues, unhealthy diet, aches and pains, and suicide.

Another serious effect of untreated depression is that it may cause, make more severe, or prolong other physical conditions or diseases, some of which include:

  • Heart disease:

    the stress associated with depression can contribute to clots in the arteries, leading to heart attack or stroke; increased stress also can result in inflammation in the heart.
  • Diabetes:

    high levels of cortisol from depression raises blood sugar levels, which may cause diabetes in individuals older than 65.
  • Cancer:

    individuals with depression often have high levels of cytokines, chemicals of the immune system that may diminish the ability of the body to destroy cancer cells.
  • Osteoporosis:

    increased cortisol from depression may cause increased bone loss which may increase the risk of bone fractures, especially in women.

A number of illnesses also commonly occur with depression. These include eating disorders, substance abuse, and Parkinson's disease.

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Signs and symptoms

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, people with depressive illnesses don't all experience the same symptoms. How severe they are, how frequent, and how long they last will vary depending on the individual and his or her particular illness. Here are some of the most common symptoms of depression:

  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
  • Insomnia, early morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable
  • Loss of pleasure in life
  • Overeating or appetite loss
  • Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems
  • Persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" feelings
  • Thoughts of suicide or suicidal actions

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Finding treatment

Follow the link below to quickly find a therapist in your area. Each clinician's bio and area of specialty is included in the search, making it easy for you to choose the best fit.

Find a therapist.

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Miscellaneous resources

Western Mass Recovery Learning Center

The Western Mass Recovery Learning Community (RLC) creates conditions that support healing and growth for individuals and the community as a whole through learning opportunities, advocacy, peer-to-peer support and the development of regional and national networks. We believe that human relationships are often at the center of what heal people who have experienced extreme emotional distress, trauma, psychiatric diagnoses, addiction and a variety of other challenges in life.

Sisters of Providence Behavioral Health Systems

The Sisters of Providence Health System is a faith-based, non-profit organization serving all patients regardless of background or ability to pay. We are known for our tradition of a high-touch, holistic approach to health care combined with state-of-the-art medical technology.

New England Geriatrics

New England Geriatrics is a program of West Central Family and Counseling, LTD, a fully licensed mental health clinic. New England Geriatrics dedicates itself to providing comprehensive and quality psychiatric services to residents and their families in long-term care facilities, rest homes and assisted living facilities throughout Massachusetts. We function as an integral part of the facility staff to assist the resident in attaining the highest level of functioning possible.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

No matter what problems you are dealing with, we want to help you find a reason to keep living. By calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255) you'll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7.

The American Psychological Association

The APA is the leading scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States. Thier mission is to advance the creation, communication and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people's lives.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America

Their mission is to promote the prevention, treatment, and cure of anxiety and mood disorders, OCD, and PTSD through education, practice, and research.

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