The sad truth about sadness

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By Richard P. Holm, MD

In my many years of caring for the sick, I have encountered several individuals caught in the joy starvation of depression. I have seen the resulting devastation affect not only the afflicted, but also those around them. For those 18 to 45 years of age, depression is the number one cause of disability, resulting in an estimated $200 billion of lost earnings per year. I stand aghast when the condition results in such helplessness that the patient chooses to escape life with suicide. There are about 40,000 deaths per year to suicide, which is approximately equal to the number of deaths caused by breast cancer. Despite a similar mortality rate, the money invested in depression research is about 1% of that spent studying breast cancer.

It remains unclear what the exact causes of depression are, as they can vary from one case to another. There are many factors which can contribute to depression, including genetic predisposition, a troubled childhood and adolescence, stressful environments, sad situations, addiction, traumatic experiences, or even not getting enough sun.

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