Depression is one of the most serious and costly medical conditions to strike Americans, costing businesses more than obesity, smoking, and diabetes combined. Depression episodes are, on average, more expensive for employers than if an employee has a heart attack. Additionally, depression patients spend billions on depression medications every year. Because it is such a costly and persistent disorder, it’s helpful to understand the answers to a few common depression questions.
Is depression hereditary? To a certain extent it is. Just like other traits that are genetically-influenced, a family history of depression is generally an indicator of increased depression risk for two reasons. First, there are biological factors that predispose one to suffer from depression that are passed down from generation to generation, and second, if you witness depressed adult behavior in your family during your formative years, you’re much more likely to exhibit that behavior yourself.
Are alcohol and depression correlated? Absolutely. Alcohol and depression are linked very strongly, and it is very rare that someone who suffers from alcoholism doesn’t also suffer from depression. There is even a term, called alcohol depression, that is used to describe depression brought on by drastic reduction in b-vitamins as a result of heavy, chronic alcohol use. If you’re experiencing symptoms of mild or moderate depression, you should steer clear of alcohol use.
What are some common symptoms of depression? Depression symptoms vary with each individual, but they commonly include persistent feelings of sadness or anger, lethargy, loss of appetite, changes in sleep habits, loss of interest in work, hobbies, and relationships, and lack of interest in sex. While we all experience these feelings from time to time, what separates depression symptoms from normal mood fluctuations is the persistence of these depression symptoms. They can last for weeks, months, and years in some cases.
If you experience persistent depression symptoms, help is available.