All you need to know about depression
Table of Contents
Depression is a serious illness, not merely a word which can be used loosely to describe sadness.
There are 4 things that everyone should know about depression:
• Depression is a real illness.
• Depression affects people in different ways.
• Depression is treatable.
• If you have depression, you are not alone
Depression is a real illness.
Sadness is something we all experience. It is a normal reaction to difficult times in life and usually passes with a little time. When a person has depression, it interferes with daily life and normal functioning. It can cause pain for both the person with depression and those who care about him or her. Doctors call this condition “depressive disorder,” or “clinical depression.” It is a real illness. It is not a sign of a person’s weakness or a character flaw. You can’t “snap out of” clinical depression. Most people who experience depression need treatment to get better. Sadness is only a small part of depression. Some people with depression may not feel sadness at all.
Depression has many other symptoms, including physical ones. If you have been experiencing any of the following signs and symptoms for at least 2 weeks, you may be suffering from depression:
• Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
• Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism
• Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
• Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
• Decreased energy, fatigue, being “slowed down”
• Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
• Appetite and/or weight changes
• Thoughts of death or suicide, suicide attempts
Factors That Play a Role in Depression
Many factors may play a role in depression, including genetics, brain biology and chemistry, and life events such as trauma, loss of a loved one, a difficult relationship, an early childhood experience, or any stressful situation. Depression can happen at any age, but often begins in the teens or early 20s or 30s. Most chronic mood and anxiety disorders in adults begin as high levels of anxiety in children. In fact, high levels of anxiety as a child could mean a higher risk of depression as an adult. Depression can co-occur with other serious medical illnesses such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and Parkinson’s disease. Depression can make these conditions worse and vice versa. Sometimes medications taken for these illnesses may cause side effects that contribute to depression. A doctor experienced in treating these complicated illnesses can help work out the best treatment strategy.
Types of Depression
There are several types of depressive disorders.
Major depression: Severe symptoms that interfere with the ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy life. An episode can occur only once in a person’s lifetime, but more often, a person has several episodes.
Persistent depressive disorder: A depressed mood that lasts for at least 2 years. A person diagnosed with persistent depressive disorder may have episodes of major depression along with periods of less severe symptoms, but symptoms must last for 2 years.
Some forms of depression are slightly different, or they may develop under unique circumstances. They include:
Psychotic depression, which occurs when a person has severe depression plus some form of psychosis, such as having disturbing false beliefs or a break with reality (delusions), or hearing or seeing upsetting things that others cannot hear or see (hallucinations).
Postpartum depression, which is much more serious than the “baby blues” that many women experience after giving birth, when hormonal and physical changes and the new responsibility of caring for a newborn can be overwhelming. It is estimated that 10 to 15 percent of women experience postpartum depression after giving birth.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is characterized by the onset of depression during the winter months, when there is less natural sunlight. The depression generally lifts during spring and summer. SAD may be effectively treated with light therapy, but nearly half of those with SAD do not get better with light therapy alone. Antidepressant medication and psychotherapy can reduce SAD symptoms, either alone or in combination with light therapy.
Bipolar disorder is different from depression. The reason it is included in this list is because someone with bipolar disorder experiences episodes of extreme low moods (depression). But a person with bipolar disorder also experiences extreme high moods (called “mania”).
Depression affects people in different ways.
Not everyone who is depressed experiences every symptom. Some people experience only a few symptoms. Some people have many. The severity and frequency of symptoms, and how long they last, will vary depending on the individual and his or her particular illness. Symptoms may also vary depending on the stage of the illness.
Women with depression do not all experience the same symptoms. However, women with depression typically have symptoms of sadness, worthlessness, and guilt. Depression is more common among women than among men. Biological, lifecycle, hormonal, and psychosocial factors that are unique to women may be linked to their higher depression rate. For example, women are especially vulnerable to developing postpartum depression after giving birth, when hormonal and physical changes and the new responsibility of caring for a newborn can be overwhelming.
Men often experience depression differently than women. While women with depression are more likely to have feelings of sadness, worthlessness, and excessive guilt, men are more likely to be very tired, irritable, lose interest in once-pleasurable activities, and have difficulty sleeping. They also may become frustrated, discouraged, irritable, angry, and sometimes abusive. Some men may throw themselves into their work to avoid talking about their depression with family or friends, or behave recklessly. And although more women attempt suicide, many more men die by suicide in the United States
Depression is treatable.
Depression, even the most severe cases, can be treated. The earlier treatment begins, the more effective it is. Most adults see an improvement in their symptoms when treated with antidepressant drugs, talk therapy (psychotherapy), or a combination of both. If you think you may have depression, start by making an appointment to see your doctor or health care provider.
This could be your primary doctor or a health provider who specializes in diagnosing and treating mental health conditions (psychologist or psychiatrist). Certain medications, and some medical conditions, such as viruses or a thyroid disorder, can cause the same symptoms as depression. A doctor can rule out these possibilities by doing a physical exam, interview, and lab tests. If the doctor can find no medical condition that may be causing the depression, the next step is a psychological evaluation.
You are not alone.
Major depressive disorder is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States. You are not alone. Sometimes living with depression can seem overwhelming, so build a support system for yourself. Your family and friends are a great place to start. Talk to trusted family members or friends to help them understand how you are feeling and that you are following your doctor’s recommendations to treat your depression. In addition to your treatment, you could also join a support group. These are not psychotherapy groups, but some may find the added support helpful. At the meetings, people share experiences, feelings, information, and coping strategies for living with depression. Remember: Always check with your doctor before taking any medical advice that you hear in your group.
Depression is treated with medicines, talk therapy (where a person talks with a trained professional about his or her thoughts and feelings; sometimes called “psychotherapy”), or a combination of the two.
TALK THERAPY (“PSYCHOTHERAPY”)
Several types of psychotherapy—or “talk therapy”—can help people with depression.
There are several types of psychotherapies that may be effective in treating depression. Examples include cognitive-behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, and problem-solving therapy.
COGNITIVE-BEHAVIORAL THERAPY (CBT)
CBT can help an individual with depression change negative thinking. It can help you interpret your environment and interactions in a positive, realistic way. It may also help you recognize things that may be contributing to the depression and help you change behaviors that may be making the depression worse.
INTERPERSONAL THERAPY (IPT)
IPT is designed to help an individual understand and work through troubled relationships that may cause the depression or make it worse. When a behavior is causing problems, IPT may help you change the behavior. In IPT, you explore major issues that may add to your depression, such as grief, or times of upheaval or transition.
PROBLEM-SOLVING THERAPY (PST)
PST can improve an individual’s ability to cope with stressful life experiences. It is an effective treatment option, particularly for older adults with depression. Using a step-by-step process, you identify problems and come up with realistic solutions. It is a short-term therapy and may be conducted in an individual or group format. For mild to moderate depression, psychotherapy may be the best option. However, for severe depression or for certain people, psychotherapy may not be enough. For teens, a combination of medication and psychotherapy may be the most effective approach to treating major depression and reducing the chances of it coming back. Another study looking at depression treatment among older adults found that people who responded to initial treatment of medication and IPT were less likely to have recurring depression if they continued their combination treatment for at least 2 years.
Source - NIMHS
Remember: No two people are affected the same way by depression. There is no “one-size-fits-all” for treatment. It may take some trial and error to find the treatment that works best for you.
If you suspect that you or someone you know is suffering from Depression, then please take the FREE depression screening test on DocsApp so that you can identify your situation and get help from a trained Psychologist accordingly.