Depression and your emotional well-being
GEHA | September 4, 2018
Today’s fast-paced world creates stresses on our everyday lives that previous generations didn’t experience. These stresses can affect our emotional well-being. Healthy emotional wellness is the ability to successfully handle life’s stresses and adapt to change and difficult times.
People handle stress differently, but all too often, prolonged or unmanaged stress leads to depression. Depression also affects people in different ways. Most of them experience some combination of these symptoms:
- Prolonged sadness or feelings of emptiness
- Feelings of helplessness or hopelessness
- Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- Anger and irritability
- Difficulty concentrating
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Appetite changes
- Chronic pain, headaches or stomachaches
- Loss of interest in activities
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- Thoughts of death or suicide
People who have a family history of depression, and people with serious chronic diseases such as heart disease or cancer, are at an increased risk of depression. Major life changes, trauma and stress can also bring about an episode of depression.
Don’t ignore it, get help
Most of us feel sad, lonely or depressed at times; that’s normal. But when these feelings become overwhelming, cause physical symptoms and last for long periods of time, they can keep you from leading a normal, active life.
Depression isn't a sign of weakness. It's not something you can just "snap out of." It's an illness that requires professional treatment.
Antidepressant medications can be helpful for reducing symptoms, especially in people with severe depression. Psychotherapy is also an effective treatment, either alone or in combination with medications. Psychotherapy can help patients learn ways to better cope with stress and manage their symptoms. These strategies can lead to recovery, enable patients to function at their best, and may have an enduring effect that protects against symptoms returning even after treatment is ended.
The good news – depression is treatable. If you think you may be depressed, or are experiencing any of the symptoms, talk to your doctor.
*If you or someone you know are feeling suicidal, call the toll-free, 24-hour hotline of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255); TTY: 1-800-799-4TTY (1-800-799-4889). Did you know GEHA medical plan members have access to telebehavioral health services though MDLIVE? Licensed therapists are available by appointment via secure video. You can activate your MDLIVE account online or by calling 1-888-912-1183.
Apa.org “Overcoming Depression.” apa.org, American Psychological Association, Oct. 2016.
Nimh.nih.gov “Depression.” nimh.nih.gov, National Institute of Mental Health, Feb. 2018.
Surgeongeneral.gov “Mental and Emotional Well-Being.” surgeongeneral.gov, US Department of Health and Human Resources, May 2014.
Webmd.com “Symptoms of Depression.” webmd.com, WebMD, 9 September 2017.