If you’ve noticed people are more down and out than unusual lately, you’re not imagining it. Marla Ahlgrimm explains that, according to Blue Cross Blue Shield, depression has increased a staggering 63 and 47 percent for adolescents and young adults respectively.
Q: What are the signs of depression?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Depression looks different on different people but is typified by a persistent feeling of being sad, hopeless, or “empty.” Many people will display no outward signs, however irritability, fatigue, and loss of interest in social interactions are common.
Q: Have other age groups also shown signs of increasing depression?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Yes, in fact, all groups studied had a significant increase in clinical diagnoses. Adults aged 35 to 49 saw an increase of 26 percent with those aged 50 to 64 experiencing slightly lower numbers of new cases reported.
Q: Why is it so important to diagnose and treat depression?
Marla Ahlgrimm: While depression is considered a mental health condition, it can have significant effects on a person’s physical health. Depression can trigger appetite changes and cause psychosomatic headaches, digestive problems, and aches and pains that don’t respond to treatment. More alarming, however, is that depression can reduce a person’s life expectancy by nearly 10 years.
Q: What causes depression?
Marla Ahlgrimm: There is no singular cause of depression. It is suspected that younger people are succumbing to added pressures to perform academically, online bullying, and feelings of inadequacy brought on by the airbrushed beauty portrayed in the media. Adults often cite divorce and financial problems as triggers. Seniors are the most at-risk group of loneliness, which is a major risk factor for depression. For all ages, losing a loved one such as parent, sibling, spouse, or close friend, may lead to depression.