Depression is a medical condition that is manifested by many symptoms. One of these symptoms is difficulty sleeping, either difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or still feeling tired after a good night of sleep. Other symptoms include anxiety, weight gain or weight loss, emotional instability (crying easily or being irritable), loss of sexual desire, fatigue, lack of enthusiasm over things that were previously of interest, lack of concentration, and even thoughts of suicide. You may have a feeling of hopelessness, despair, or a sense that you are drowning in all of your problems. If these symptoms persist for more that a few weeks, you may have clinical depression. Many people suffer from depression and it is not something to be ashamed of. We live in a fast-paced, high-tech world, which probably adds to the likelihood for depression to occur. Depression can be a serious condition and requires treatment.

Fortunately, there are many drugs available for treating depression. These drugs are considered safe and are not addictive. Wellbutrin is a drug that mainly treats anxiety, but also helps some with depression. It is safe enough that is can be used during pregnancy. Another group of drugs, the SSRI’s include Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Lexapro, and Celexa. These drugs work by increasing the Serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that gives a calming effect. Two other drugs, Effexor and Cymbalta work on both Serotonin as well as Norepinephrine levels in the brain. Norepinephrine is a neurotransmitter in the brain that vies energy to the body. All of these durgs are called chemotherapeutic drugs, because they are helping to reestablish the correct balance of neurotransmitters in the brain. If often takes from two to four weeks for these drugs to work. The effects of these drugs are frequently  so subtle that the person taking the medicine may not notice any changes, but family or co-workers may see a big change. As with any drug, people may respond differently to a particular medicine. Fortunately, if one drug doesn’t work well for you, there are many others to choose from.

In addition to therapeutic drugs, talking with a therapist or counselor may be helpful in treating depression. Depression may be brought on from such things and death of a loved one, addictions (alcohol, drugs), and broken marriages. Talking to someone who is trained to deal in these areas is equally  important in fighting depression. Finally, support groups are helpful. There are many support groups (a group of people with similar problems, for example Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon). These support groups allow you to see that you are not alone in your struggles. You can also gain insight from hearing others share their experiences, struggles, discoveries and hopes.

If you feel that you may be depressed, you are not alone. It is estimated that as many as 16 million people a year may suffer from depression. It is twice as common in women. If you feel your are drowning in a sea of problems, remember that antidepressant drugs and counseling may be your life jackets.