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Depression involves feelings of despair and hopelessness; it lasts longer than feelings of sadness that people feel every now and then. It can affect a person’s thoughts, feelings, behaviour and overall health. Moderate to severe clinical depression is more common in females than in males, but it can affect anyone. Roughly 10 percent of people deal with anxiety or depression at any given time. About 20 percent of people will deal with anxiety or depression at some point in their lives.

The experience of chronic pain can cause some people to feel sad, demoralized and overwhelmed. Many feel that persistent pain has taken them away from their schooling, work, activities and relationships, which are very important in their lives.

It is understandable to feel overwhelmed or sad when we no longer feel we are living meaningful lives because of pain. Depression can distort (misrepresent) how we think about our current and our future lives, leading us to think maladaptive (unhelpful) thoughts, and causing us to feel powerless.

Signs and symptoms of depression

  • Lack of interest in usual daily activities, such as socializing with friends

  • Feelings of sadness or feeling “down” or “blue” for at least two weeks

  • Feelings of hopelessness

  • Crying spells for no apparent reason

  • Problems sleeping

  • Trouble focusing or concentrating

  • Memory problems

  • Difficulty making decisions

  • Unintentional weight gain or loss

  • Irritability or restlessness

  • Fatigued or weak

  • Worthlessness or guilt

  • Suicidal thoughts

When to speak to your doctor

Speak to your doctor if, over the past two weeks, you have felt down or blue most days or you have experienced a loss of pleasure or lack of enjoyment of activities that represents a change from your previous function.

Let your doctor know if you are experiencing other symptoms of depression such as weight loss or weight gain, sleep changes, lack of energy, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, trouble concentrating and recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.

Tell your doctor if you notice that your depression is interfering with important areas of life such as attending school or work, your relationships with others, your enjoyment of life and your sleep and general function.

Seek immediate attention (go to your local emergency room) if your mood has been so low that you have been thinking about harming yourself or ending your life.

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