Essay by squirrelyosis August 2004

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Depression is a medical condition leading to persistent feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness, where people have an inability to feel pleasure or take an interest in life. The condition may lead to sleep problems, agitation, and difficulty concentrating. Some depressed people are physically depressed as well -- constantly tired or lacking in appetite.

Doctors use a set of guidelines and questions to help determine whether you have depression. They might also run tests to help rule out other conditions or medications possibly causing the depression.

Treatment can involve taking medications, going to therapy or counseling, or both. You may need ongoing treatment to prevent it from coming back.

If you are feeling depressed, you might wonder if you are the only one who feels the way you do, if what you are feeling is really depression and if your feelings are really bad enough to see a doctor.

When you're depressed, everyday life can feel difficult.

You know your feelings are not the normal, healthy ones that come from facing life's difficulties. Your despair might feel as if it will go on and on. However, there is hope -- depression is treatable and feeling better is within your reach.

Some people find comfort just by learning depression is a medical condition. Learning more about your condition is often a good first step toward feeling better.

Depression is not the same as having the occasional "blues" or feeling sad every once in a while -- and then bouncing back to your old self. Depression can be mild, moderate or so bad it affects every part of your life -- your body, your feelings, your thoughts and your behaviors. It can have an impact on your family relationships, your friendships and your ability to work, play or just get through your day.