Did You Know?
Everyone gets the blues now and then, but when there is little happiness or pleasure after being with friends or after seeing a good movie, there may be a more serious problem. A depressed mood that stays around for a while, without letting up, can change the way a person thinks or feels. Doctors call this “clinical depression.” Clinical depression goes by many names such as “the blues”, biological depression, and major depression.
Depression is a common, serious illness and not a personal weakness. Depression can happen to anyone, at any age, and to people of any race or ethnic group. It is never a “normal” part of life. Depression, which is treatable, can come from chemical imbalances in the brain, hormonal changes, medications or things going on in your life.
Women suffer from depression twice as often as men. One out of four women may have depression sometime during their lifetime. Many people suffer with depression but do not seek help.
Symptoms of Depression Disorder
|Trouble concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions||Loss of interest in things once pleasurable, including sex|
|Fatigue||Overeating, or appetite loss|
|Sleeping too little or too much||Aches, pains, headaches, or cramps that won’t go away|
|Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and helplessness||Digestive problems that don’t get better, even with treatment|
|§ Pessimism and hopelessness||Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings|
|Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or sleeping too much||Suicidal thoughts or attempts|
|Irritability||Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still|
What Causes Depression?
Many items can lead to clinical depression. Following are factors that can contribute to the oncoming of the illness:
Biological – People with depression may have too little or too much of certain brain chemicals. Changes in these brain chemicals may cause or play a role in clinical depression.
Cognitive – People with negative thinking and low self-esteem are more likely to develop clinical depression.
Gender – Women experience clinical depression nearly twice as often as men. The reasons for this are still not understood, but may include hormonal changes women go through during menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth and menopause. Other reasons may include the stress caused by the many responsibilities that women have.
Co-occurrence – Depression is more likely to occur along with certain illnesses, such as heart disease, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and hormonal disorders.
Medications – Side effects of some medications can bring about depression.
Genetic– A family history of clinical depression increases the risk for developing the illness.
Situational – Difficult life events, including divorce, financial problems or the death of a loved one can contribute to clinical depression.
Depression Affects People in Different Ways
Not everyone who is depressed experiences every symptom. Some people experience only a few symptoms. Some people have many. The severity and frequency of symptoms, and how long they last, will vary depending on the individual and his or her particular illness. Symptoms may also vary depending on the stage of the illness.
Women with depression do not all experience the same symptoms. However, women with depression typically have symptoms of sadness, worthlessness, and guilt.
Depression is more common among women than among men. Biological, lifecycle, hormonal, and psychosocial factors that are unique to women may be linked to their higher depression rate. For example, women are especially vulnerable to developing postpartum depression after giving birth, when hormonal and physical changes and the new responsibility of caring for a newborn can be overwhelming.
Men often experience depression differently than women. While women with depression are more likely to have feelings of sadness, worthlessness, and excessive guilt, men are more likely to be very tired, irritable, lose interest in once-pleasurable activities, and have difficulty sleeping.
Men may turn to alcohol or drugs when they are depressed. They also may become frustrated, discouraged, irritable, angry, and sometimes abusive. Some men may throw themselves into their work to avoid talking about their depression with family or friends, or behave recklessly. And although more women attempt suicide, many more men die by suicide in the United States.
The teen years can be tough. Teens are forming an identity apart from their parents, grappling with gender issues and emerging sexuality, and making independent decisions for the first time in their lives. Occasional bad moods are to be expected, but depression is different.
Older children and teens with depression may sulk, get into trouble at school, be negative and irritable, and feel misunderstood. If you’re unsure if an adolescent in your life is depressed or just “being a teenager,” consider how long the symptoms have been present, how severe they are, and how different the teen is acting from his or her usual self. Teens with depression may also have other disorders such as anxiety, eating disorders, or substance abuse. They may also be at higher risk for suicide.
Children and teenagers usually rely on parents, teachers, or other caregivers to recognize their suffering and get them the treatment they need. Many teens don’t know where to go for mental health treatment or believe that treatment won’t help. Others don’t get help because they think depression symptoms may be just part of the typical stress of school or being a teen. Some teens worry what other people will think if they seek mental health care.
Depression often persists, recurs, and continues into adulthood, especially if left untreated. If you suspect a child or teenager in your life is suffering from depression, speak up right away.
Before puberty, girls and boys are equally likely to develop depression. A child with depression may pretend to be sick, refuse to go to school, cling to a parent, or worry that a parent may die. Because normal behaviors vary from one childhood stage to another, it can be difficult to tell whether a child is just going through a temporary “phase” or is suffering from depression. Sometimes the parents become worried about how the child’s behavior has changed, or a teacher mentions that “your child doesn’t seem to be himself.” In such a case, if a visit to the child’s pediatrician rules out physical symptoms, the doctor will probably suggest that the child be evaluated, preferably by a mental health professional who specializes in the treatment of children. Most chronic mood disorders, such as depression, begin as high levels of anxiety in children.
What Are the Treatment Options for Depression?
Depression is the most treatable of all mental illnesses. About 60 percent to 80 percent of depressed people can be treated successfully. Depending on the case, various kinds of therapies seem to work. Treatments such as psychotherapy and support groups help people deal with major changes in life. Several short-term (12-20 weeks) “talk” therapies have proven useful. One method helps patients recognize and change negative thinking patterns that led to the depression. Another approach focuses on improving a patient’s relationships with people as a way to reduce depression and feelings of despair.
Antidepressant drugs can also help. These medications can improve mood, sleep, appetite and concentration. There are several types of antidepressant drugs available. Drug therapies often take time before there are real signs of progress. It is important to keep taking medication until it has a chance to work. After feeling better, it is important to continue the medication for at least four to nine months to prevent a recurrence of the depression. Never stop taking an antidepressant without consulting your doctor. Antidepressant drugs can have side effects but they are usually temporary. If side effects persist and are troublesome, contact your doctor. In some cases, you may need to try different medicines to find the one(s) that help the most.
How to help yourself now
• Set realistic goals and don’t take on too many tasks.
• Try to be with others and confide in someone.
• Participate in activities that you enjoy.
• Exercise in moderation.
• Remember feeling better will take time.
• Don’t make any important decisions until the depression has lifted.
• Let your family and friends help you.
Grohol, J. Introduction to Depression. Psych Central https://psychcentral.com/disorders/depression/introduction-to-depression/