Depression is a mental illness that can affect anyone, regardless of age, race, or gender. Contrary to popular belief, depression is not simply a case of the “blues” – or a bad day. It can be extremely debilitating. It often prevents people from leading normal, healthy lives. In this blog post, we will explore the causes of depression. We'll also discuss some of the treatments available for those who suffer from severe depression symptoms.
What is mental health?
Mental health is a term that covers a wide range of different conditions and experiences related to the self. Generally speaking, it refers to our emotional, psychological, and social well-being – everything that isn't physical. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through to adulthood and our golden years. It can affect how we think, feel, and act. It can also impact on our ability to cope with stress, relate to others, and make choices.
There are many different factors that can contribute to good mental health. These include positive family and social relationships, a sense of accomplishment and purpose, and a feeling of autonomy and control over one’s life. Conversely, poor mental health can lead to problems such as anxiety, depression, and substance abuse. It is a complex topic, but understanding it is an important first step in promoting good mental health for yourself and others.
On the other side of “health” is mental disorders. Our brains operate in a certain way, but sometimes, biological factors outside of our control can be contributing factors to mental disorders. That's why working with our doctors when we're experiencing depression symptoms is so important.
What are the symptoms of depression?
Depression is more than just feeling down or sad. It’s a serious mental health condition that can have a profound effect on your mood, thoughts, and behavior. Depression is characterized by a persistently low mood that interferes with your ability to function in daily life.
Common symptoms include feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and worthlessness; loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy; changes in sleep and appetite; fatigue; and difficulties concentrating. If you’re experiencing these symptoms, it’s important to reach out for help. Depression is treatable, and there are many resources available to support you on your journey to recovery.
How does major depressive disorder impact your life?
Major depressive disorder, also known as clinical depression, is a serious medical condition that can have a profound effect on every aspect of your life. If you are suffering from depression, you may feel hopeless and helpless, with no motivation to keep going. You may lose interest in activities that you used to enjoy, and you may find it difficult to concentrate or make decisions. You may experience changes in your appetite and sleep habits, and you may feel exhausted all the time.
In severe cases, clinical depression can even lead to thoughts of suicide. If you think you might be suffering from depression, it's important to seek professional help. With proper treatment, many people with depression are able to manage their symptoms and live full and productive lives.
How is severe depression diagnosed?
Depression is a serious medical condition that can have a profound impact on every aspect of a person's life. While it is normal to feel sad or down from time to time, people with depression experience these feelings to a much greater degree. Depression can make it hard to concentrate, sleep, eat, and even enjoy activities that used to be pleasurable. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to see a doctor or mental health professional for an evaluation.
During an assessment for depression, the clinician will ask about your symptoms and how long you have been experiencing them. They will also want to know if you have any family history of depression or other mental health disorders. Be prepared to answer questions about your mood, energy level, sleeping habits, and appetite. The clinician may also perform a physical exam to rule out any other medical conditions that could be causing your symptoms. If you are diagnosed with depression, there are several treatment options available that can help you feel better. Don't hesitate to reach out for help if you are struggling.
Guidelines for diagnosing depression are developed and shared in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), which can also lead doctors through diagnosing other mental health conditions.
What are the risk factors for depression?
While anyone can experience depression, there are certain factors that may increase the risk. For example, people who have a family history of depression are more likely to experience it themselves. Other risk factors include chronic illness, grief, substance abuse, and stress. Women are also at a higher risk for depression, especially during times of hormonal changes such as pregnancy or menopause. Transgender and nonbinary folks may be at a higher risk for depression because of either changes in hormones caused by transition, or by social gender dysphoria and other outward pressures.
People who have experienced trauma or abuse are also at a greater risk. And finally, people who have experienced recent upheaval in their lives, including loss of a loved one, job change, or other major life transition.
While these are some of the most common risk factors, it is important to remember that anyone can experience depression. If you are struggling, please reach out for help. There is no shame in seeking support from a therapist or counselor. You deserve to live a life free from the pain of depression.
Regardless of why people get depressed, controlling the symptoms of depression is an important disease control measure. Even mild depression is a concern according to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Psychiatric Association.
Depression affects millions of adults every year with both mental and physical symptoms. Luckily, there are many pharmaceutical and therapeutical options for managing your symptoms of depression. SSRIs, talk therapy, and healthy coping mechanisms can help you maintain your physical health through a bout of major depression.