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Everyone feels sad at one time or another; sometimes we feel tired from working hard, or discouraged when faced with serious problems. These feelings usually pass within a few days or weeks, once we adjust to the stress. But if these feelings linger, intensify, and begin to interfere with work, school or family responsibilities; if they begin to affect concentration and memory; if they result in feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, low energy levels, fatigue and suicidal thoughts; you may be suffering from depression.

Depression causes changes in thinking, feeling, behaviour, and physical well-being and can affect anyone. Unfortunately, it is not always diagnosed immediately, because many of the symptoms are physical, such as disturbed sleep, appetite and digestion or chronic pain. While the symptoms and severity may vary from person to person, recognizing depression is the first step in dealing with the problem.

Often one is too embarrassed to seek help because of the stigma attached to acknowledging a mental health problem, but statistics show that depression will be the second largest killer after heart disease by 2020, and studies show depression is a contributory factor to fatal coronary heart disease.

If something has been worrying you for a while now; if it has been interfering with your eating and sleeping patterns; if your work is suffering because you find it difficult to focus, remember or take decisions; if you are experiencing a persistent feeling of sadness or anxiety; you may need to talk to somebody about it.

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