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Are You Depressed or Just Feeling Down?

Are You Depressed or Just Feeling Down?
October 5-11, 2014 marks the 24th annual Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW).

In 1990, the U.S. Congress established the first full week of October as MIAW in recognition of efforts by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) to raise mental illness awareness. Forest Laboratories, LLC, a subsidiary of Actavis plc, is especially proud to serve as this year’s National Sponsor of MIAW.

Clinical depression is a mood state that goes well beyond temporarily feeling sad. It is a serious medical illness that affects one’s thoughts, feelings, behavior, mood and physical health. Your sleep and eating patterns can be impacted, and, in the worst cases, depression can also lead to suicidal thoughts.

Depression is a life-long condition in which periods of wellness alternate with recurrences of illness. Each year, depression affects 5-8 percent of adults in the United States. This means that about 25 million Americans will have an episode of major depression this year alone. Perhaps the more staggering statistic is that only one-half of these individuals will receive treatment. (NAMI)

Depression is at least twice as common in women verses men. Roughly 20 to 25 percent of women will experience depression in their lifetime, where as 10 percent of men are likely to experience symptoms.

When the symptoms are mild, and someone is experiencing apathy or just going through a funk in life, a specialist may have difficulty diagnosing the patient. Sadness and apathy are normal and appropriate emotions that almost all people experience from time to time.

Apathy, which is considered to be a mental health disorder, is the lack of emotions or interest. Apathy can often be a core symptom of depression. However, when a person has major depression, the symptoms aren't mild; they go far beyond that. The symptoms have to be present for at least two weeks prior to diagnoses and will lead to some amount of functioning impairment. 

Dr. Mary Mandell is a psychiatrist on the NAMI North Carolina board. In this segment, she thoroughly explains the differences between just "feeling down" and depression.
Featured Speaker:
Mary Mandell, MD

Mary Mandell photoMary Mandell, MD, has been an outpatient psychiatrist with FirstHealth of the Carolinas since 2003. After earning her undergraduate and medical degrees from Emory University in Georgia, she completed a residency in psychiatry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she served as chief resident. A board certified psychiatrist, she specializes in treating patients (including physicians and other professionals) who have been diagnosed with mood and anxiety disorders.

Dr. Mandell, who operated a private practice for three years before joining FirstHealth, received an Exemplary Psychiatrist Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) in 2006. This national award is presented only to about 10 psychiatrists throughout the country each year. Dr. Mandell is on the Board of Directors for NAMI North Carolina and serves as the network psychiatric consultant for Community Care of the Sandhills.