Depression is a common but serious mood disorder that causes severe symptoms that interfere with how someone thinks, feels, and handles daily activities such as eating, sleeping, and working. It can cause various emotional and physical problems and interfere with your ability to function and enjoy life.

Depression is more than feeling sad or drained for a few days. Everyone feels sad sometimes, but depression is characterized by feelings of chronic sadness that last for weeks or months. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide. It can erode a person’s relationships, make it difficult to work and maintain good health, and in extreme situations, lead to suicide. Each year, depression contributes to around 40,000 suicides in the United States. A recent study indicates that teen and young adult depression rates are rising faster than any other demographic in the United States.

Types of Depression

There are various types of depression, some of which are triggered by particular events, while others are classified according to the severity of their symptoms. Some individuals endure moderate and transient depressive episodes, while others experience severe and persistent bouts.

The following are some of the more common types:

Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)

Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) – Clinical depression, also known as major depressive disorder, is a debilitating illness characterized by depressed mood, diminished interests, poor cognitive function, and vegetative symptoms such as altered sleep or eating. MDD affects approximately twice as many women as men and one in six individuals throughout their lifetime. Symptoms can linger for at least two weeks and impair one’s ability to do daily tasks.

Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dysthymia)

Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dysthymia) – is a type of depression that lasts for an extended period (chronic). You may lose interest in typical everyday activities, feel hopeless, be unproductive, have low self-esteem, and have an overall sense of inadequacy. These sentiments can linger for years and seriously disrupt your relationships, school, work, and daily activities. If you have a persistent depressive disorder, you may find it difficult to be cheerful even on joyous occasions – you may be regarded as having a gloomy personality, continuously whining, or incapable of having fun.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) – is the most severe type of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). The week before your period, you may experience various mental and physical symptoms. PMDD can cause severe irritation, depression, or anxiety during this period. Symptoms often disappear two to three days after your menstruation begins.

Substance/Medication Induced Depressive Disorder

Substance/Medication Induced Depressive Disorder – is characterized by a notable and persistent shift in mood, displaying apparent indicators of depression or a substantial loss in enthusiasm and enjoyment in daily activities and hobbies, and these symptoms begin during or shortly after the use of a particular substance/medication, or during withdrawal from the substance/medication.

Suicidal depression is not a clinical diagnosis, but it is a phrase that you may come across. Most mental health practitioners consider it “depression with suicidal ideation.” Suicidal ideation is a symptom of depression that demands prompt attention. Although most people with depression do not commit suicide, having severe depression can increase the risk of suicide.

Signs and Symptoms

Depending on the frequency and severity of symptoms and the effect on the individual’s functioning, a depressive episode can be classified as mild, moderate, or severe. If you have been experiencing at least five of the following symptoms for at least two weeks, you may have depression:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety, or emptiness
  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimistic
  • Feelings of discontentment, agitation, or irritation
  • Feelings of shame, hopelessness, and helplessness
  • Disinterest or dissatisfaction in previously enjoyed pursuits
  • Having less energy, feeling tired, or feeling down
  • Challenges in focusing, remembering, or decision making
  • Problems falling asleep, waking up too early, or being unable to get out of bed
  • Changes in appetite and sudden weight gains
  • Behaviors indicative of suicidal ideation or attempt
  • Aches, pains, headaches, cramps, or stomach issues that refuse to go away despite medical intervention

It’s also important to rule out general medical factors, such as thyroid issues, brain tumors, or vitamin deficiencies, which can mirror depressive symptoms.
A severe depression diagnosis requires the presence of several persistent symptoms. However, even if just one or two of these symptoms are present, they can still cause significant suffering and should be evaluated.

Risk Factors

Depression can affect anyone, including those whose lives appear ideal. There are several possible causes of depression, including:

  • Biochemistry – Variations in certain chemicals in the brain can contribute to depression symptoms.
  • Personality – Individuals who are easily overwhelmed by stress or are generally pessimistic appear more likely to suffer from depression.
  • Genetics – Depression can be inherited. Depression is more prevalent in individuals with a family history of the disorder.
  • Environmental factors – Some people may be more vulnerable to developing depression if they’ve lived through traumas like neglect, abuse, or extreme poverty.
  • Physical health – Cardiovascular disease, for example, can lead to depression and vice versa.
  • Hormones – Changes in the body’s hormone balance could play a role in producing or provoking depression. Hormone shifts can occur during pregnancy and in the weeks or months following birth (postpartum), as well as as a result of thyroid disorders, menopause, or a variety of other diseases.

Diagnosis and Treatment

When it comes to mental health disorders, depression is one of the most treatable. 80 to 90% of depressed individuals eventually react favorably to treatment. Almost all patients experience symptomatic alleviation.

First, a healthcare provider will conduct a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation, which includes an interview and a physical examination. In certain instances, a blood test may be performed to ensure that the depression is not caused by a medical disease such as a thyroid disorder or vitamin deficiency (treating the underlying medical condition will reverse the depressive symptoms). The purpose of the examination is to arrive at a diagnosis and create a course of action by identifying particular symptoms and examining medical and family histories and cultural and environmental factors.

Common methods of treating depression include medication, psychotherapy, and often a combination of the two.

  • Psychotherapy – People with depression can benefit from various psychotherapeutic approaches that focus on changing negative patterns of thought and behavior. It has been shown that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps treat depression.
  • Medication – When treating depression, brain chemistry may be taken into account. Thus, antidepressants may be administered to alter the neurochemical balance.
  • Support Groups – Individuals struggling with depression may benefit from joining a support group and discussing their difficulties and successes with others. Online and in-person support groups are available at Turning Point. We are committed to a long-term relationship with our alumni community and do everything we can to become an integral part of the communities we serve.

Feelings of hopelessness and despair make it seem as though one’s issues will never end. Nonetheless, if you get assistance, you will begin to feel better in due time. Please don’t go through this alone; Reach out to us, as we are here to help!

Turning Point Centers provide adults with the highest quality mental health care. Our compassionate clinicians offer individualized care to those battling mental health conditions through residential treatment, day treatment (PHP), and intensive outpatient programs.

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