How many times have you heard someone say they felt depressed? Perhaps you've even said it yourself.

There's a good chance they really meant they were just down in the dumps or feeling "blah." Everyone feels sad, lonely or depressed at times. Usually this passes in a few days or even hours and then the world looks okay again.

But there is something called a major depressive disorder which is much more serious. It's a real medical condition.

Recognizing the symptoms is the first step. The National Institute of Mental Health identifies these symptoms to look out for:

  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness
  • Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
  • Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
  • Overeating or appetite loss
  • Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
  • Persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" feelings
  • Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts

Depression carries a high risk of suicide. If you or someone you know expresses suicidal thoughts or desires, call 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) or 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255). The deaf hotline can be reached at 1-800-799-4TTY (1-800-799-4889).

Your EAP counselor can assist you in identifying and treating your symptoms of depression.

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