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Depression is a serious medical illness affecting more than 14 million American adults every year, but people may be reluctant to seek treatment.

Depression is a mood disorder that can be treated. About 25 percent of the U.S. population suffers from some sort of depression during their lifetime, says Dr. Jeffrey Bennett, assistant professor of psychiatry at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield.  He describes some symptoms.

“... symptoms of depression include loss of interest in the usual pleasurable activities, feelings of sadness that either don’t seem to get better or are remitting.  In other words, they get better temporarily, but then get worse.  And other symptoms as well.  It changes biological rhythms such as your sleep schedule, your appetite schedule, your drives for various motivation related activities.”

Dr. Bennett says depression also can cause suicidal thoughts.  Some people may be reluctant to seek treatment because of the stigma attached to the disease. Treatments for depression can help most patients.  It usually includes a combination of psychotherapy and medications.  He offers a newer treatment option for depression.

“There are other forms that are electrical forms of treatment such as using transcranial magnetic stimulation which is now approved by the Federal Drug Administration for treating treatment-resistant depression.  And this involves using magnetic pulses which stimulate the brain in a very focused fashion and allow over a period of several weeks of regular daily treatments for a patient to become better.”

Dr. Bennett says many people suffer from depression in silence. He urges anyone who has had symptoms of depression for two weeks to see their primary care physician for an evaluation. They may be referred to a mental health counselor or psychiatrist for further evaluation and treatment.

Ruth Slottag