What You Should Know About Depression

Depression is something that many take lightly and isn’t given as much importance as it should. Unlike physical ailments, mental illness is often not seen as something serious or causes those with it to be labeled as “crazy”. However, it is very much a physical ailments as much as it is a mental one because it effects the way a person with it thinks and behaves. For some, proper treatment or therapy is enough, but for others, it is a disability that makes it impossible to support yourself or others.

So What Is Depression?

It is normal to feel sad or blue every once in a while and it certainly isn’t unusual during a traumatic event to be depressed. However, these feelings are often short-lived and pass within a few days. When you have depression, it interferes with your daily life and causes pain for both you and those who care about you. Depression is common, but remains a serious illness.

Several of those with depression never seek out treatment, but the majority can get better with the help of treatment. Medications, psychotherapies, and other methods can effectively treat people with depression and there are several forms of depressive disorders.

What Forms Of Depression Are There?

Major depression – severe symptoms that interfere with your ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy life. An episode may only occur once in your lifetime, but more often, a person will have several episodes throughout their life.

Persistent depressive disorder – depressed mood that lasts for at least 2 years. A person that is diagnosed with persistent depressive disorder may have episodes of major depression along with periods of less severe symptoms, but the symptoms must last for 2 years. However, this form of depression also comes with its own unique types as well including:

  • Psychotic depression – this occurs when a person has severe depression plus some type of psychosis, such as having disturbing false beliefs or a break with reality or hearing or seeing upsetting things that others cannot hear or see.

  • Postpartum depression – this is much more serious than the “baby blues” that most 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) – this type of depression is characterized by episodes that only occur during the winter months due to the lack of sunlight. This depression tends to lift with the spring and summer. SAD can be effectively treated with light therapy, but most do not get better with light therapy alone.

Bipolar disorder – also known as manic-depressive illness, is not as common as major depression or persistent depressive disorder. Bipolar disorder is characterized by cycling mood changes from extreme highs to extreme lows.

What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Depression?

People with depressive illnesses do not all experience the same symptoms. The frequency, severity, and duration of symptoms from individual to individual.

  • Persistent anxious, sad, or “empty” feelings

  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism

  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness or helplessness

  • Irritability or restlessness

  • Fatigue and decreased energy

  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions

  • Overeating or appetite loss

  • Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness or excessive sleeping

  • Thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts

  • Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease with treatment

  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable

What Are The Causes Of Depression?

Most likely, depression can be caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors. While some types of depression tend to run in the family, others can occur from traumatic experiences or environmental factors. Events such as a car accident, the wrongful death of a loved one, or exposure to chemicals like lead can all be triggers or causes of depression. It is also not uncommon for other illnesses to come on before depression, cause it or be a consequence of it. Anxiety disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or with serious medical conditions like cancer are especially common to accompany those with depression.