What is Depression?
Depression is a mood disorder that is quite common, but also serious. It can cause uncomfortable symptoms for the person experiencing it that disrupts their daily life including their work, school, sleep or relationships. It may vary depending on the specific problems that a person is going through and their specific reason behind why they are depressed. Sometimes this is an isolated an event that occurs, and other people experience chronic depression due to their past or childhood trauma. There are many different types of depression, each one affecting the person in a different way.
Signs or Symptoms of Depression
- Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems
- Sad, anxious, or “empty” moods
- Feelings of hopelessness, or depression
- Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
- Appetite and/or weight changes
- Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
- Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Moving or talking more slowly
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
- Decreased energy or fatigue
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
Types of Depression
There are many different types of depression and each will cause different symptoms and feelings to occur. Below are the most common types of depression.
One of the most studied and discussed mood disorders is bi-polar depressive disorder. It is different than depression, but we have included it here because it is a disorder that causes extreme lows and changes in mood which can qualify as major depression. This depressive disorder is recognized by the unexpected surge of intense feelings that can vary from extreme pleasure and excitement to feeling very low and depressed, which is confusing for whoever is going through it. Individuals who are bi-polar may say that they can be extremely fired up and excited for a period of time and shortly after there can be times when they feel sad, depressed and alone.
Persistent Depressive Disorders
An additional type of depressive disorders is called persistent depressive disorder. Persistent depressive disorder can be described as lengthy and long-lasting moments of severe unhappiness which may be triggered by situations or difficulties such as death, separation, divorce, financial problems such as lack of employment or being fired. If it lasts for up to two years, it is considered a persistent depression. There are severe cases where persistent depression can affect how a person is functioning and how they live their lives. Clinical depression is the major depressive disorders that can impact the way a person uses their skills and can interrupt their life to the point they no longer enjoy the things they used to. They may lose relationships, jobs, or housing due to their depressed state.
Another type of depression is seasonal depression. It relates to the actual seasons and time of year where the weather or amount of sun defines the mood of the person to the point that they can become depressed. This is frequent throughout winter season in Europe as well as the Northern United states region. There is a feeling associated with unhappiness especially during the Christmas season where, interesting as it is, there tend to be numerous suicides which occur. It could be connected to the Christmas season itself, or due to the weather because it can pull the emotions of becoming alone as well as from the shorter days from the rotation of the globe.
Dysthymia is less severe than some other types of depression but could last longer, for anywhere from 5 to 7 years. This type of depression not only occurs in adults but can happen to someone in any age range. Those in which are more easily affected are generally ages five to thirty-five years old. Although, this is not a severe type of depression, it should be treated as such, and the person affected should be closely monitored and observed to determine the best treatment and care.
Postpartum depression occurs when a woman gives birth to a baby and experiences severe depression shortly after the birth of the baby. Often, when a woman gives birth they feel like they have “lost” something inside them, have increased hormones going on and many emotions which can cause depression to happen. They really feel despondent of the physical and physiological changes in which pregnancy causes in the body.
Risk Factors for Depression
Depression is one of the most common mental health problems in the United States affecting over 16 million people with at least one major episode within a year. It affects people most commonly who are between the ages of 18-25 and those that belong to two or more races. Research suggests that depression can be caused by many risk factors including biological, genetic, psychological, and environmental.
“Depression can happen at any age, but often begins in adulthood. Depression is now recognized as occurring in children and adolescents, although it sometimes presents with more prominent irritability than low mood. Many chronic mood and anxiety disorders in adults begin as high levels of anxiety in children.” (National Institute of Mental Health, 2018)
When someone develops depression later in life, it could be related to other illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Depression can amplify these diseases and make the symptoms much worse. If medications are taken for the disease, the side effects can contribute to depression. It’s important to work with a medical professional to find the right treatment protocol if you are experiencing depression for any reason.
Treating Type of Depression
Even the most severe cases of depression can be treated, by a team of professional counselors or medical providers. It can be treated with a variety of methods including behavioral therapies, counseling, medication, psychotherapy, or a combination.
Things to do After Treatment
- Try to be active and exercise
- Expect your mood to improve gradually, not immediately
- Set realistic goals for yourself
- Continue to educate yourself about depression
- Discuss decisions with others who know you well and have a more objective view of your situation
- Postpone important decisions, such as getting married or divorced, or changing jobs until you feel better
- Try to spend time with other people and confide in a trusted friend or relative
- Try not to isolate yourself, and let others help you
If you or someone you know is suffering from depression, it’s important to get help right away. Reach out to a mental health profession, physician or counselor for help in your area.
National Institute on Mental Health. (2018, February). Depression. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml