Helping you live a better life on dialysis

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As many as 19 million adult Americans struggle with depression at some point in their lives, says the National Institute of Mental Health. You may already know that people with chronic diseases are even more prone to depression. What you may not know is how to deal with it.

Depression is a broad term that describes a set of mood disorders. Some are long-term and some are short-term. Certain types are milder, while others are very strong and very harmful.

For our purposes, we will place them into two groups:

  • Common mood swings
  • Ongoing depression

Everyone has common mood swings. They may look like depression, because you feel sad, discouraged, lack energy, may lose sleep, or doubt yourself over some event or relationship. These moods last from a few hours to a few days, and then subside. Clinically speaking, this is not depression, but a normal response to life changes.

Ongoing depression is more serious. If you have more than one of the following symptoms for longer than 2 weeks, you may be depressed:

  • Persistent sad, anxious, hopeless, or empty feelings
  • Loss of interest in activities usually enjoyed
  • Fatigue, loss of energy
  • Feeling worthless, helpless, or guilty
  • Large weight loss - or gain
  • Insomnia or sleeping more than usual
  • Feeling restless and irritable
  • Having trouble concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Some of the physical symptoms of depression, like fatigue, loss of energy, weight gain/loss, and sleeping problems, can also be caused by your kidney disease or its treatment. Before you diagnose yourself with depression, talk to your health care team about your symptoms and your concerns.

If you are depressed, know that depression can be treated. And depression can make you feel helpless, and even affect your will to live if you do not get help for it.

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