A black and white photo of a woman looking depressed.

OCTOBER:
Depression Health Toolkit

Depression is a common and treatable condition that, if left unrecognized, can lead to behavioral health issues and possibly suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Therefore, it is critical to provide resources to those who battle depression, as well as equipping the friends and families of those who are in this battle with the ability to identify the symptoms of depression. Some of these resources can be found below.

What do you need to know to effectively raise awareness about depression?

  • There is no single cause of depression. However, certain things can raise a woman's risk for depression:
    • Genetics (family history): If a woman has a family history of depression, she may be more at risk of developing it herself. However, depression may also occur in women who don’t have a family history of depression.
    • Chemical imbalance: The brains of people with depression look different than those who don’t have depression. Also, the parts of the brain that manage your mood, thoughts, sleep, appetite, and behavior don’t have the right balance of chemicals.
    • Hormonal factors: Menstrual cycle changes, pregnancy, miscarriage, postpartum period, perimenopause, and menopause may all cause a woman to develop depression.
    • Stress: Stressful life events such as trauma, loss of a loved one, a bad relationship, work responsibilities, caring for children and aging parents, abuse, and poverty may trigger depression in some people.
    • Medical illness: Dealing with serious medical illnesses like stroke, heart attack, or cancer can lead to depression.
  • Symptoms of depression may include:
    • Feeling sad or empty
    • Feeling hopeless, irritable, anxious, or guilty
    • Loss of interest in favorite activities
    • Feeling very tired
    • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
    • Thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts
    • Persistent physical symptoms such as headaches, digestive disorders, or chronic pain
  • The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that everyone undergo screening for depression, regardless of their risk factors.
  • On average, approximately 16 million new cases of depression are diagnosed in the U.S. each year.
  • Less than two-thirds of people diagnosed with depression receive care.
  • The DoD is taking measures to decrease the stigma associated with seeking behavioral healthcare.

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