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BATON ROUGE, LA – It is defined as “a serious medical condition in which a person feels very sad, hopeless and unimportant, and often is unable to live in a normal way,” according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary,

“Depression is a chemical imbalance that occurs in the brain,” said Dr. Joseph Larriviere of the Baton Rouge Clinic. “It’s extremely common. It’s something I see about three times a day, at minimum.”

Dr. Larriviere is an internist, he said some symptoms of depression include: fatigue, loss of interest in hobbies, tearfulness, hopelessness, sleep problems, and overeating or even loss of appetite to name a few. It affects more than 350 million people in the U.S., according to the World Health Organization.

“We have something called serotonin. This is a neurotransmitter that’s essentially called the “feel good” hormone of the body,” said Dr. Larriviere. “If you don’t have enough serotonin around, it leads to depressive-type symtoms.”

Now the question is, who is more likely to get depression?

“The demographics of depression are actually pretty fascinating. We have found that women are twice as likely as men to get depression. Caucasians are twice as likely than African-Americans to get depression,” explained Dr. Larriviere. “Developed countries, those citizens are twice as likely as those in developing nations to get depression. So, we’ve seen that as technology advances, the prevalence of depression actually increases.”

Dr. Larriviere said depression comes in different types. For women who just gave birth, they can experience postpartum depression.

“The mildest form is called “postpartum blues.” This occurs for about a two-week period. It resolves on it’s own, and it doesn’t require any medication, and actually the treatment for it is sleep,” explained Dr. Larriviere. “As the severity increases and it lasts more than two weeks or there’s suicidal thoughts, that’s the more severe form, and that’s called “postpartum depression.” Things that increase the risk for postpartum depression are teen pregnancy or unplanned pregnancy, single moms. What we’ve found to be preventive for it is actually breast feeding.”

If gone untreated, the most severe form of depression can lead to suicide, but Dr. Larriviere said there are plenty of treatments available before it gets to that point.

“You are not alone. It does not mean you’re crazy, you’re psychotic, or any of the stigmas that can be attached with it. It is a chemical imbalance of the brain that is easily treated. So come in and talk to your doctor if you feel like you maybe depressed,” concluded Dr. Larriviere.

There are other ways to treat depression, besides medication, including therapy.

If you or someone you know is depressed, just head to the links below:

http://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/depression/

http://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/basics/mental-illness/depression.htm

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