Occasionally feeling upset is a natural part of life, but most of the time we’re able to snap out of it on our own or with the help of someone who’s close to us. When the feeling of unhappiness becomes severe, (lasting for days, weeks, or even months), it can affect everything that’s important to you, including your health.
Excessive negative thoughts and feelings is a chronic medical condition otherwise known as major depression, major depressive disorder, or clinical depression. Chronic depression is experienced by 20% to 25% of all adults.
If you are suffering from depression, get help today. Call (919) 803-6320 or contact us online.
Symptoms of Depression
Often times when you or someone you know is suffering from depression, the only way to get through it is with the help of a medical professional. Additionally, if the condition isn’t addressed it can progressively get worse. That’s why it’s important to familiarize yourself with the signs of depression. Some of the most evident symptoms include:
- Debilitating sadness
- Loss of interest in daily activities
- Becoming increasingly isolated
- Diminished libido
- Extremes in sleep habits such as excessive sleeping or insomnia
- Severe appetite changes that lead to either significant weight loss or weight gain
- Trouble concentrating
- Loss of energy
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Suicidal thoughts
Causes of Depression
The exact causes of your depression might be unknown, but your doctor will review a combination of both physical and social factors before proceeding with treatment.
Some of the physical causes of depression include:
- Physical changes in the brain
- Neurotransmitter imbalances. Neurotransmitters are the chemicals in your brain that help control everything from body functions to your mood
- Hormonal imbalances
- Prescription drugs such as blood pressure medications or sleeping pills
Some of the social factors that contribute to depression are:
- Low self-esteem
- Excessive pessimism
- Not having enough close friends to share your thoughts and feelings with
- Having family members or friends with depression
- Traumatic events in your life such as financial hardships, relationship problems, or the death of a loved one
- Trauma that occurs during childhood including the death of a loved one or some form of abuse whether it’s physical, sexual, or emotional
- Alcohol, nicotine, or drug abuse
Types of Depression
Major depressive disorder:
Major depressive disorder: This is severe depression, which causes hopelessness, pessimism, profound fatigue, and emotional emptiness that becomes incredibly taxing. Many people with this disorder may self-harm or experience suicidal ideation. With the advent of 2013’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Axis 5 (DSM-5), it is now possible to be diagnosed with major depressive disorder within two months of a loved one’s death.
Persistent depressive disorder (Dysthymia)
Persistent depressive disorder, also called dysthymia (dis-THIE-me-uh), is a continuous long-term (chronic) form of depression. Persistent depressive disorder symptoms usually come and go over a period of years, and their intensity can change over time. But typically symptoms don’t disappear for more than two months at a time. In addition, major depression episodes may occur before or during persistent depressive disorder — this is sometimes called double depression. Persistent depressive disorder is defined by the DSM-5 as having two or more years of continuous depressive symptoms.
Also called seasonal affective disorder (SAD), seasonal depression usually emerges during winter months, or seasons where there is there is less natural light throughout the day. Many individuals who suffer from SAD respond positively to light therapy (or vitamin D supplements), though some may require traditional depression treatments.
Most new moms experience postpartum “baby blues” after childbirth, which commonly include mood swings, crying spells, anxiety and difficulty sleeping. Baby blues typically begin within the first two to three days after delivery, and may last for up to two weeks. But some new moms experience a more severe, long-lasting form of depression known as postpartum depression. Rarely, an extreme mood disorder called postpartum psychosis also may develop after childbirth.
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD):
In PMDD, emotional instability (affective lability), irritability, depressed mood, and anxiety appear approximately a week before the onset of menstruation.
If symptoms of depression occur alongside delusions and hallucinations–as in the context of a psychotic episode–it is most likely psychotic depression. Experiencing one episode of psychotic depression increases one’s chance of developing bipolar disorder.
Treatment of Depression
Depression treatment plans typically begin with an in depth examination to try and unearth some of the factors that are leading to your unhappiness. Depression treatment typically begins with a physical exam and blood test to rule out any medical conditions such as hypothyroidism.
Your doctor may also conduct a psychiatric evaluation. This is simply a long discussion where your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, including any bouts of depression you may have dealt with in the past are discussed.
In some cases, medications like antidepressants or stimulation techniques such as electroconvulsive therapy can be an option for controlling the neurotransmitters that affect your mood.
One of the most beneficial methods for helping work through depression is psychotherapy. This is also known as talk therapy, and it is a two-way dialogue between you and your doctor. During these sessions, your doctor will likely educate you about depression, including some of the factors that can trigger it, and offer advice on physical activities that can stimulate the body and mind.
Support groups are another effective way to improve your social interactions. Sharing the feelings you’ve been experiencing with others will help you realize that you are not alone in battling your depression.
If you are suffering from depression and would like to get more information about treatment, call (919) 803-6320 or contact us online.