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Impairment focus: depression

Last week, in recognition that May marks Mental Health Month, we chose to spotlight anxiety disorders. This week, we will continue our discussion of mental impairments by focusing on depression.

Relatively few people know that depression, along with anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, and other mental ailments, are included on the Social Security Administration's listing of impairments. This means that those who suffer from these diseases may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, if they can show that their disorder prohibits them from holding gainful employment or participating in daily activities. Specifically, those who suffer from depression will have to show that they have been afflicted with the disease for at least two years.

There are several different forms of depression that affect more than 19 million Americans every year. Major depression is the most severe, and is often triggered by a traumatic event. Dysthymia is a chronic depression that persists in its sufferers, regardless of events or circumstances.

Symptoms of depression include persistent feelings of sadness and anxiety, difficulty falling or staying asleep, fatigue, loss of energy, reduced or increased appetite, irritability, difficulty concentrating and remembering, or feelings of guilt and worthlessness.

In general, people who are afflicted with five or more of these symptoms for two weeks are longer are likely to have some form of depression. But everyone's situation is different, so those who suffer from any of these symptoms are urged to seek help.

This year, Mental Health Month is based on a simple mantra: "Get Connected." With this, the campaign is urging everyone, even those without a diagnosis, to create connections that encourage good mental health. Specifically, the organization urges people to:

  • Get connected to family and friends to feel close and supported
  • Get connected to your community to feel a sense of belonging and purpose, and
  • Get connected to professional help to feel better when you're stressed and having trouble coping.

Source: Mental Health America, "Mental Health Month"

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