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December 7, 2001 Depression For me, living with depression is not living. It simply exists from one day to the next except it is far from simple. It is difficult, very difficult. The difference between living with depression and living without it is like the difference between night and day. With depression I am paralyzed, held back by my own irrational fears, and tied down by extreme sorrow, dread, and sadness.

Depression is a psychological disorder that can be marked by sleep and eating disturbances, lack of concentration, problems at work, intense feelings of emptiness, guilt, worthlessness, and in extreme situations, suicidal thoughts. A depressive illness is distinguished from a temporary "blue" mood and may have both psychological and biochemical components. It's a "whole-body" illness. It affects the way we eat and sleep, the way we feel about ourselves, and the way we think about things. A depressive disorder is not the same as the grief experienced after a disappointment or a death.

It is not a sign of personal weakness or a condition that can be willed or wished away. People with a depressive illness cannot just "pull themselves together" and get better without treatment. Depression causes changes in thinking, feeling, behavior, and physical well-being. These symptoms can last for weeks, months, or years. Individuals with depression need psychotherapy and support groups to develop effective ways to dealing with life's problems, and to change the negative thoughts and attitudes that have caused their depression.

Appropriate treatment can help most people who suffer from depression. The most productive way to assist a depressed person is to help him or her get appropriate treatment. This involves encouraging the individual to stay with treatment until the symptoms decrease or to seek different treatment if no improvement occurs. On occasion, it may require...