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The Stress Effect
RHONDA ROWLAND, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT
Heavy traffic, job pressure, working couples with kids, cell phones, e- mails, pagers and Palm Pilots. Do you wonder what all that stress is doing to you?
DR. JEFFREY KELSEY, PSYCHIATRIST
I have to take this real quick.
I have five more minutes of being on call today.
Psychiatrist, Dr. Jeffery Kelsey, sees it every day in his practice. Stress can set the stage for depression.
Well, we think that the vulnerability of getting depression is about a third from genetics, what we inherit, and is about two thirds from those experiences that we have.
Stress you can't control appears to do the most harm, accidents, death, job loss, the events of 9/11, even the turbulence of Wall Street. With Wall Street, a lot of pressure now, especially for CEOs' performance and to deliver. What kind of impact does that have?
There are clearly going to be some people for whom that stress is going to hit the threshold. well, yes, they are going get an episode of depression.
DR. J. DOUGLAS BREMMER,
AUTHOR, "DOES DEPRESSION DAMAGE THE BRAIN
"This is a patient with depression.
Dr. J. Douglas Bremmer studies the brain. He says you can actually see how stress assaults us, targeting and shrinking the brain's hippocampus, where we do most of our thinking. So is it the disease that does this or is it like the stressors that happen over time that causes this area
to get smaller?
We don't know. It could be stress causes changes in the brain that lead to depression.
And Bremmer also found that depression is cumulative. The more bouts you have, the more damage to your brain, and it accelerates. The more times you suffer depression without treatment, the more likely you are to suffer again.
We know that stressful life events make it more likely that someone who has had depression in the past will relapse.
Also startling, it's striking at a younger age. The typical victim used to be middle aged. Now, it's common to see depression in the late teens or early twenties. So what do you look for? We all feel blue at times, but if you feel that way all day for two weeks, look for at least five of these symptoms: changes in appetite and weight, sleeping too little or too much, a lack of enthusiasm, not feeling pleasure from your usual activities, restlessness or irritability, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions, thoughts of death or suicide.
And probably the key is, if you are watching this and wondering. hmm, I wonder if I have depression, the best thing to do is to go and see someone to get that evaluated.
Remember, depression is one third genetic. Some people are immune to stress. Also, say doctors, almost everyone who is depressed can be helped and return to a normal life.