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For depression sufferers, life and work can be a struggle

Overwhelming sadness, guilt and hopelessness are all symptoms commonly experienced by individuals who struggle with depression. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, an estimated 16 million Americans reported experiencing "at least one major depressive episode," within the last 12 months. This serious and invisible mental health condition does not discriminate and affects individuals of all ages, genders and ethnicities and can adversely impact the lives of those who suffer with the condition firsthand as well as family members.

Depression is more than just feeling sad or down. For individuals who are diagnosed with major depressive disorder, side-effects of the condition can negatively impact personal relationships, physical health and their ability enjoy life and work.

In addition to the symptoms mentioned above, individuals with depression may also experience low self esteem, an inability to concentrate, disordered thinking, sleep disturbances and low energy. If left untreated, these and other symptoms may persist and worsen over time.

Depression can stem from a genetic link or may be triggered by trauma or unfortunate life circumstances. In an effort to self-medicate, a reported 30 percent of "people with substance abuse problems also have depression." However, use of alcohol or other illicit or unprescribed drugs often only exacerbates the symptoms of the disorder.

While there is no cure for depression, several prescription medications and behavioral and cognitive therapies may be effective in treating symptoms. Additionally, individuals with depression can benefit from being physically active and eating a healthy diet.

For individuals who are unable to work due to their debilitating symptoms, Social Security Disability benefits can provide much-needed assistance. An attorney who handles SSDI claims can assist in the application process to ensure that an individual's application is complete and compelling.

Source: NAMI.org, "Depression," July 2, 2015

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