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Can't Shake the Blues? Learn How to Cope with Depression

Copyright American Osteopathic Association

Approximately 30 million Americans deal with depression at some point in their lives. One out of six of these individuals will battle severe depression. Once a condition that was more commonly associated with seniors, depression among youth-especially young women-is on the rise.

 "I believe that the number of young people diagnosed with depression is growing for two reasons," says Robert R. Coleman, D.O., an osteopathic family physician in Alabama. "First of all, physicians are now more willing to diagnose and classify young individuals with clinical depression. Secondly, many young people are taking over adult roles and responsibilities in the home, often because both parents work, and this puts increased stress on those young people."

Know the Signs
Studies show that more than 11 million American women suffer from clinical depression each year. If you get that "down in the dumps" feeling from time to time, that is perfectly normal. However, according to Dr. Coleman, you may have clinical depression if you experience five or more of the following symptoms for more than two weeks straight:

* Persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" mood

* Sleeping too little or too much

* Changes in weight or appetite

* Loss of pleasure or interest in activities

* Feeling restless or irritable

* Persistent physical symptoms of illness that don't respond to treatment

* Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions

* Fatigue or loss of energy

* Feeling guilty, hopeless, or worthless

* "Accidental" drug overdoses

* Giving cherished items

* Persistent thoughts of suicide or death

Other common signs of depression among young women include irritability, angry outbursts, and problems in school.

Getting to the Root of the Problem
Each person is unique and the events that trigger depression in some people do not do so in other people. Events that are known to lead to depression include worrying about grades, worrying about parental and peer acceptance, dealing with self-esteem issues, suffering broken relationships, experiencing confusion over sexual identity, and suffering rape or incest.

The Need to Get Help
Seeking professional help to battle clinical depression is imperative. Severe depression can not only lead to relatively mild problems (including headaches, stomach pain or nausea), but it can also lead to much more serious difficulties (such as breathing problems, chronic neck and back pain, and suicide).

According to various estimates, approximately 250,000 teens attempt suicide each year. Of this number, 2,000 teens succeed in their attempt, making suicide the leading cause of death among young women in the United States.
"It is essential to get to the root of the depression," emphasizes Dr. Coleman. "If depression is not diagnosed properly or goes untreated, it can lead to suicide in some patients."

Overcoming Depression
For some people, overcoming depression may simply require a significant lifestyle change. This could include transferring to a new college or job, exercising, eating right, or finding positive activities that help fill up time and that offer chances to meet new people. Individuals who are able to fight off depression with a lifestyle change are those who have learned how to cope with their depression. Such people are able to tackle tough issues in their life head-on without medication.

For others, however, battling depression might not be a one-person job. Such people may require intensive counseling, psychotherapy or medication.
According to various studies, anti-depressant medications successfully treat depression in as many as 80 percent of the individuals who take them.

"Anti-depressants have proven themselves to be very effective at battling depression," says Dr. Coleman. "But, physicians must prescribe the correct dosage for the patient and do a thorough follow-up to see if the medication is helping."
Dr. Coleman incorporates the osteopathic philosophy while treating patients suffering from depression.

"I take the time to listen to my patients and learn more about their lifestyle and family history," he says. "Often times, the key to unlocking people from the chains of depression lies in lifestyle issues or family issues."

As physicians who emphasize prevention and wellness, D.O.s strongly support the U.S. Surgeon General's Healthy People 2010 initiative in the quest to improve quality of life and increase the number of years of a healthy life.

The American Osteopathic Association (AOA) reminds you that November 12-18 is National Osteopathic Medicine Week. This year's target group is young women from the ages of 12 to 24. During this time, osteopathic physicians (D.O.s) will work to raise awareness among young women regarding the many issues they face as they strive to maintain healthy lifestyles. In addition, D.O.s plan to educate them on how preventive care can help maintain good health throughout their lives. D.O.s are fully licensed physicians who have additional training that focuses on the body's structure and function as well as its ability to heal itself.

For more information on osteopathic medicine or to locate a D.O. in your area, call the AOA at 1.800.621.1773, ext. 8252 or visit the AOA's
Web site at

Did You Know... ?

* More than 15 million Americans suffer clinical depression at any given moment.

* Another 15 million Americans experience mild depression.

* 16,000 people commit suicide a year due to depression.

* Each year 250,000 teens attempt suicide.

* Each year 2,000 teens commit suicide.

* Women are twice as likely as men to suffer from depression.

Sources: Freedom From Fear, National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, National Depression Screening Day, PlanetRx, American Osteopathic Association, and the Auxiliary to American Osteopathic Association.

You can contact these organizations for more information:

Freedom From Fear
308 Seaview Avenue
Staten Island, NY 10305

National Alliance for the Mentally Ill
Colonial Place Three
2107 Wilson Blvd., Suite 300 22201-3042

National Depression Screening Day
One Washington Street, Suite 304
Wellesley Hills, MA 02481-1706

AAOA (Auxiliary to AOA)
142 East Ontario Street
Chicago, IL 60611-2864
1.800.621.1773 ext.8192

Craig M. Wax, DO, LLC of Mullica Hill, NJ provides information on health, nutrition, family medicine, preventive medicine, wellness, natural treatments, alternative medicine, integrative medicine, osteopathic medicine and just plain common sense.
Craig M. Wax, D.O., L.L.C. © 2014 ~ All Rights Reserved