In today’s very uncertain times, many of us feel as though we are out of sync with ourselves and others. What causes this type of emotion within us?
Uncertainty and indecision are very difficult on us, even during the best of times. It is the not knowing that causes so many people such distress. Often, it’s as though we wake up one morning and suddenly, we feel depressed. If we pay attention to ourselves, we can usually tell when we are beginning to go down that slippery slope.
Depression is often misunderstood. We want to attribute it to something finite, but unfortunately, that is not usually the case. It’s not only hard to endure, but it is also a risk for heart disease and dementia.
Anyone can get depressed, and it can happen at any age and in any type of person. If you have one episode of depression, you are at risk of having more episodes throughout your life. About 1 out of every 6 adults will have depression at some time in their life, and it affects over 17 million American adults every year.
According to Johns Hopkins, depression:
- Is a serious mood disorder that affects your entire body, including your mood and thoughts.
- Touches every part of your life.
- Is not a weakness or character flaw.
- Is a chemical imbalance in your brain that needs to be treated.
- Is situational vs. chemical.
Key points about depression:
- Some types of depression can run in families.
- Depression causes ongoing, extreme feelings of sadness, helplessness, hopelessness, and irritability.
- These feelings are a noticeable change from what is “normal” for you and last more than two weeks.
- It can be diagnosed after a careful psychological and medical history conducted by a mental health professional.
- It is most often treated with therapy, medication, or a combination of both.
Depressive symptoms can occur in adults for many reasons and have many causes, including hormones, medication, brain chemistry, or even inherited traits. But whatever the cause, it is important to understand what you are feeling.
Types and Symptoms of Depression
There are many types of depression. It is important to understand the type you or a loved one is experiencing so you can get the help that is needed.
Some types of depression are:
- Bipolar Disorder
- Major Depressive Disorder (Clinical Depression)
- Dysthymia (Persistent Depressive Disorder)
- Postpartum Depression (PPD)
- Psychotic Depression
- Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
- Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (DMDD)
- Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
- Atypical Depression
- Situational Depression (Reactive Depressive/Adjustment Disorder)
- Substance/Medication-Induced Depressive Disorder
- Depressive Disorder due to other condition
- Unspecified Depressive Disorder
- Treatment-Resistance Depression
Psychological symptoms include:
- Sadness, tearfulness, emptiness, or hopelessness
- Thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts
- Anxious or negative feelings
- Low self-esteem
- Unfounded guilt
Physical symptoms include:
- Fatigue and lack of energy
- Significant appetite changes
- Sleep abnormalities
- Concentration problems
- Alcohol or drug abuse
Treatment for Depression
Depression is the most common psychiatric complaint. It can be mild, severe, acute, or chronic, and left untreated, depression can last an average of four months or longer. Without treatment, depression can happen more often and become more serious.
Treatment may include one or a combination of medications and therapies.
- Medication: It takes four to six weeks for these medications to have their full effect.
- Antidepressants work by affecting the brain chemicals.
- Keep taking the medication, even if it doesn’t seem to be working at first.
- Never stop taking your medication without first talking to your healthcare provider.
- Some people need to switch medications to get the proper results.
- Therapy: This is the most common form of treatment for depression.
- The most common form of therapy used is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and/or interpersonal therapy.
- This type of therapy focuses on changing the distorted views you have of yourself and your situation.
- Therapy works to improve relationships.
- It also helps you identify and manage stressors in your life.
- Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) or shock therapy: This treatment may be used to treat severe, life-threatening depression that has not responded to medication or therapy.
- A mild electrical current is passed through the brain.
- This triggers a brief seizure.
- The seizure helps restore the normal balance of chemicals in the brain and ease the symptoms.
It’s important to respond to depression as soon as possible. Waiting only makes it more difficult, both mentally and physically. Understanding more about what it is, where it comes from, and how it can be treated can help.
Jennifer Vear Hoy, MS, MS, realized firsthand the need for professional and compassionate counseling in the Naples area. She went back to school and earned her second graduate degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Her passion is helping others live the life they were meant to live. Jennifer Vear Hoy, Peaceful Summit Counseling, LLC, located at 1048 Goodlette Road North, Suite 201 in Naples. Call the office at 239.307.4708 or mobile at 239.450.8090 to learn more.