Depression is a common mood disorder that creates a feeling of sadness, anger, or loss of interest. It affects how you feel and the way you behave.
The most common form of depression is major depressive disorder or clinical depression.
Nowadays, depression is one of the most common and serious mental disorders that can lead to various physical and emotional problems. It affects your ability to perform day to day functions as well.
A person may need long-term treatment, but many people feel better with simple medication or psychotherapy. In this article, learn about the main causes of depression and how it can be treated. We have also included types, risk factors, and more.
Overview of Depression
Depression is a common mental health disorder worldwide. It can affect children, adolescents, and adults. Depression is very different from usual mood swings and short-timed emotional responses to challenges in day to day life.
It may become a serious health condition with long and severe emotional responses. It can greatly affect a person’s personal as well as work life.
Depression can also be the main reason for suicide. Nearly 800,000 people die every year due to suicide. Suicide is becoming a leading cause of death among youngsters of age 15-30 years.
There are various effective methods for treating people with mental disorders. Around 75% to 85% of people in low-income countries receive little to no medical treatment for such disorders. Lack of resources, trained health professionals, and inaccurate assessment are some of the main reasons for this.
Depression vs Sadness/Grief
The feeling of sadness or grief is normal that develops in response to certain situations. These include loss of a job, death of a family member, ending of a relationship, etc. Those experiencing these feelings are often described as being depressed.
But being sad is not the same as being depressed. Feeling sad in such situations is natural and somehow shares the same features as in depression. Both sadness and depression involve some intense sadness and the person also faces difficulty doing daily activities.
Depression and grief/sadness differ in the following ways.
|It is a condition of mental disorder
||It is the feeling of sorrow, grief, or unhappiness
|It lasts longer
||It comes in waves and the person gets over in a day
|Can be treated through medical help
||Does not require any medical treatment
Grief and depression can co-exist. A person suffering from both may have severe symptoms that may last longer.
Types of Depression
Depression can be categorized into two broad categories depending upon the symptoms. Both these major types of depression can be chronic if they are not properly diagnosed and treated well.
Major Depressive Disorder
Major depressive disorder is one of the main and severe forms of depression. It causes a feeling of sadness, worthlessness, and hopelessness that don’t disappear on their own and need proper treatment.
You must have diagnosed with 5 or more of the following symptoms in order to be diagnosed with major depressive disorder.
- Feeling depressed most of the time
- No interest in day to day activities
- Significant weight gain or loss
- Disturbed sleep routine
- Slowed thinking
- Low energy
- Feelings of helplessness
- Loss of concentration
- Thoughts of death and suicide
A major depressive disorder is further categorized into different subtypes referred to as specifiers as defined by the American psychiatric association. These includes:
- Atypical depression
- anxious distress
- Peripartum onset, during or after pregnancy
- Melancholic depression
- mixed features
- Psychotic depression
Persistent Depressive Disorder
PDD is also called dysthymia. It is a milder but more severe form of depression. Persistent depressive disorder affects your life more than any other type of depression. Because the symptoms stay for a longer period of time. The symptoms must last at least two years in order to be diagnosed with persistent depressive disorder.
The symptoms include:
- Loss of interest in daily activities
- Feeling of helplessness
- Low self-esteem
- Lack of productivity
Bipolar depression is also called manic depression. Someone suffering from bipolar disorder has episodes that can range from high energy moods to low and long-lasting depressive periods.
The symptoms of bipolar depression are quite the same as in major depressive order.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
SAD is a period of major depressive disorder that usually happens in the winter season when the days are short. A mild seasonal affective disorder typically goes away in summer.
Doctors prescribe antidepressants to treat people with seasonal affective disorder. Also, light therapy can help in preventing this type of depression.
People suffering from psychotic depression share the same symptoms as a major depressive disorder. Other symptoms include:
Antipsychotic drugs and antidepressants are used to treat psychotic depression. ECT (Electroconvulsive therapy) is also a good option to be used.
Most new moms experience postpartum depression after childbirth. It commonly includes mood swings, anxiety, crying spells, and difficulty sleeping.
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
Women with premenstrual dysphoric disorder may have depression and other similar symptoms at the starting days of their period. Other than the usual symptoms of depression, you may have the following symptoms.
- Extreme mood swings
- Trouble concentrating
- Change in sleep habits
- Change in appetite
- Feelings of being overwhelmed
Antidepressants and oral contraceptives are used to treat premenstrual dysphoric disorder.
As the name says - people can have situational depression when they are unable to manage certain situations in their life. This can be about losing your job, losing someone in your family, etc.
Doctors also call situational depression a stress response syndrome. Psychotherapy is very effective to get people through depression related to any stressful event or situation.
Any kind of depression can be treated if it is properly diagnosed and the patient sticks to the treatment plan.
Depression Signs & Symptoms
Depression of any kind varies according to gender and age groups. The symptoms of depression are different in men, women, and teens.
Depression Symptoms in teens
The major symptoms of depression in teens are irritability, agitation, and anger. Other than these, depressed teens may also complain of stomach ache, headache, or any other physical pain.
Depression Symptoms in men
Men with depression are less likely to have feelings of hopelessness and self-loathing. Instead, they usually complain about irritability, fatigue, irregular sleep, and loss of interest. Depressed men are most likely to have symptoms such as aggression, anger, and reckless behavior.
Depression Symptoms in Women
Depressed women are likely to have symptoms such as feelings of guilt, overeating, excessive sleeping, and weight gain. Hormonal changes during menstruation, menopause, and pregnancy are also one of the main factors of depression in women. In fact, 1 in 7 women experiences postpartum depression during the time of pregnancy.
Depression Symptoms in Adults
Adults are more likely to experience physical pain. They show fewer emotional signs and symptoms of depression. They simply stop taking care of themselves by neglecting their personal appearance and not taking medications on time.
Causes of Depression
There are many possible causes of depression ranging from biological causes to circumstantial. Here are the most common causes that can lead to depression.
||Depressed people may appear to have some kind of physical changes in their brains. Such as if the frontal lobe of the brain is less active then you may develop the symptoms of depression. These changes are still not certain but can be a major cause of depression.
||The chances of developing depression are high if your blood relatives have depression or any other kind of mood disorder.
||Any event from your early life can affect how you respond to a particular event in your life. These events can affect how you react to fear or stressful events.
||Changes in hormones are also one of the main factors of developing depression in women. Hormonal changes occur during childbirth or weeks after delivery, menopause, or any other condition.
|Use of Drugs
||Drug and alcohol use can also be the root cause of depression.
Unfortunately, there is not a single test for diagnosing depression. But your doctor can make a diagnosis after evaluating your symptoms and psychological behavior.
Usually, the doctor asks a number of questions about the following factors.
- Sleep patterns
- Activity level
- Moods and thoughts
Your doctor may also conduct a physical examination because depression can be linked to other health problems. Sometimes the deficiency of vitamin D and thyroid problems can also be the reason for the early signs of depression.
Do not ignore the signs of depression because if it is not treated the individual may face many complications in life. So, if your mood gets worse and does not improve, seek medical help immediately.
Risk Factors of Depression
Depression is the most common mental health disorder. People can develop depression at any stage of their life. More women are diagnosed with depression as compared to men this is because women are likely to seek treatment.
The following are the main factors that can trigger depression other than the common causes.
- Experiencing a certain situation in life such as work issues, family issues, or financial problems
- Experiencing stress for a long time
- Lack of coping mechanism
- Having a blood relative with depression
- History of any other mental disorder
- Use of certain medications
- Use of recreational drugs
- Previously developed depression
- Having medical conditions like diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and heart disease
Complications of Depression
Depression is a serious mental illness that can negatively affect not only the person but also his/her entire family. It often gets worse if not diagnosed on time and treated well. It often results in behavioral, emotional, and health-related problems that affect all areas of your life.
The major complication of depression includes:
- Weight gain
- Weight loss
- Physical illness
- Panic attacks
- Family conflicts
- No social life
- Suicidal thoughts
- Drug misuse
Treatment of Depression
It is not easy to handle depression but proper treatment can help you improve your life. You can talk to your doctor and see what are the possible options that can help you in treating depression.
You can successfully manage your symptoms if you take treatment in the early stages of depression. A single treatment or a combination of different can work best to lower the symptoms of depression.
The following treatments can be used in order to treat depression.
Your doctor may provide you with the following medications.
- Antipsychotic medications
Each type of medication you use to treat depression has its own benefits as well as side effects.
It is also called talk therapy that helps people with symptoms of depression. Getting help from a therapist can also help you with different techniques to cope up with depression. A number of therapy sessions with a psychiatrist can help you a lot in handling the symptoms of depression.
Exposure to white light from time to time can also help in regulating your mood. It also lessens the symptoms of depression. Light therapy is one of the most common treatments usually used in treating seasonal affective disorder. It is now called major depression with seasonal patterns.
There are some other alternatives that can also work in treating depression. You can also ask your doctor about meditation or acupuncture. Herbal supplements can also be used in treating depression.
But first, consult with a doctor before taking any supplements or combining any herbal supplement with the prescribed medication. Because herbal supplements can create reactions or may reduce the effectiveness of the prescribed medication. So, it is better to consult with the doctor first.
Other Treatments for Depression
Sometimes the symptoms of depression do not respond to medication. This is where the doctor may recommend other treatments if the symptoms of depression do not improve.
These are the ways that can also help in treating depression other than the regular treatment.
Indulge yourself in a 20-30 minutes regular physical activity. Physical exercise can help in increasing the production of endorphins. Endorphin is a hormone that improves your mood.
Avoid Alcohol and Drugs
You should minimize or completely omit the use of drugs and drinking if you want to feel good. The use of these drugs and drinking can worsen the symptoms of depression in the longer run.
Set a Boundary
The feeling of overwhelmedness can also worsen the symptoms of depression. You should set a boundary with your personal and professional life in order to feel better.
Take Good Care of Yourself
You can also treat depression by taking good care of yourself. Work on yourself and this includes getting the required amount of sleep, a healthy diet, and taking part in enjoyable activities.
Adopt an Emotional Support Animal
One of the most recent treatments of depression is emotional support animals. This is because animals can improve our moods and make us feel better by just being there.
The most common animal used for treating depression is a dog although other animals have also been shown effective.
An emotional support animal can be beneficial for various reasons especially for those having the symptoms of depression. The ESA’s are specifically important for improving the quality of life. These animals offer safe companionship and unconditional love.
The benefits include:
- Helps in improving mood
- For stress relieving
- A healthy companionship
- Helps in decreasing stress and anxiety
- In decreasing isolation
If you believe that the ESA can help you in treating depression, ask for an ESA letter by contacting us.
See if you can qualify for an ESA.