Depression is a treatable illness. 

Depression can be a serious, life-threatening illness. Depression disrupts our personal lives and job performance. Routine tasks that a person previously took for granted seem overwhelming. A person suffering from depression may feel too tired to get up out of bed in the morning to go to work. On the job, he or she may lose concentration and forget or confuse important responsibilities. The person seems easily frustrated and annoyed. He or she gives up hobbies and no longer has interest in fun activities. Crying comes too easily, and sometimes for no apparent reason. The sufferer wonders, “What is wrong with me?” The answer may be clinical depression.

While only a trained mental health professional can properly diagnose clinical depression, all of us can and should understand more about this debilitating condition. Clinical depression is a medical illness that involves a chemical imbalance in the brain. The brain “shuts down” production of its neurotransmitters, the chemicals that are necessary to help us feel healthy. When the supply of neurotransmitters runs low or becomes “out of balance,” a person’s physical and emotional health declines. Warning signs for depression include:

  • Intense, persistent sadness
  • Difficulty sleeping (either too much or too little)
  • Changes in appetite with weight loss or gain
  • Loss of pleasure in things previously enjoyed
  • Fatigue and low energy
  • Irritability
  • Hopelessness about the future
  • Low self-esteem
  • Suicidal thoughts

Because depression is a medical problem, it rarely goes away by itself. In fact, if left untreated, depression tends to get worse. Unfortunately, however, many people avoid seeking help for depression. Even in this day and age, some people are embarrassed or ashamed to talk about depression. Others mistakenly believe depression is a character flaw or sign of weakness. They don’t recognize depression for what it is, a treatable medical illness.

If you or someone you know shows signs of depression, seek help without delay. BAC’s Member Assistance Program (MAP) provides confidential assistance, information and referral. There is no charge for MAP services for BAC staff and active and retired BAC/IMI members, and their immediate families. All MAP telephone and office visits are strictly confidential. MAP staff will not disclose information about a caller to anyone, including the person’s supervisor, without permission.

For more information or assistance with treatment of depression from a licensed mental health professional, call MAP toll-free at 1-888-880-8222. All calls are strictly confidential.