WHAT IS DEPRESSION?
Sadness is a normal reaction to the many difficulties we can face in life. Depression and sadness can often look and feel the same, but there are some key differences. When sadness becomes too much or to constant, it may be clinical depression. If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, there is hope. Depression is a treatable condition that you can seek support for.
SYMPTOMS OF DEPRESSION
According to the Fifth Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Disorder of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), common symptoms of depression include the following:
- A depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day
- Loss of interest in the things that used to bring you joy
- Difficulties experiencing happiness or pleasure
- Significant weight loss (without trying) or weight gain
- Changes in appetite
- Difficulties sleeping, or sleeping too much
- Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, emptiness, or self-doubt
- Feeling lethargic or exhausted OR feeling very restless
- Trouble concentrating or making decisions
- Thoughts of suicide or death (not just fear of dying)
DEPRESSION AND SUICIDE
If you are currently experiencing thoughts of suicide, you are not alone. You can seek help today. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to get the support you need immediately: 1-800-273-8255. If there is a life threatening emergency, please call 9-1-1.
PATTERNS AND TYPES OF DEPRESSION
For some, depression is experienced in patterns. For example, some people notice they are more depressed in the winter. This would be an example of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Another common pattern one may experience is intense depression for a week or two, and a week or two feeling 'back to normal'. In some cases, cycles of depression can be related to other medical conditions or mental health conditions. It is important to check with a doctor or mental health professional if you are worried depression could be related to another condition.
Depression comes in various shapes and sizes. Here is a list of some common diagnoses of depression:
- Major Depression
- Persistent Depressive Disorder
- Bipolar Disorder
- Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
- Peripartum or Postpartum Depression
- Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
- Adjustment Disorder
WHO SUFFERS FROM DEPRESSION?
Around 350 million people worldwide suffer from depression. Depression can effect everyone. While it is complicated to understand exactly why one might suffer from depression, there are a few risk factors being studied as to why one may experience it:
- Changes in brain chemistry
- Changes in hormones
- Family history of depression
- Chronic illness
- Side effects of certain medications
- Being LGBTQIA+ in an unsupportive environment
- Trauma or abuse
- Grief or loss of a loved one
- Low self-esteem
DEPRESSION AND INTERSECTIONALITY
Intersectionality is a word that refers to the various categorizations that are connected within our identity. In other words, categories such as race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, socioeconomic status, age, ableness, etc. are all aspects of our identity that overlap with one another. It is important to note that depression is often more prevalent in marginalized communities. While this is not a simple topic, depression is often a result of lack of access to services, discrimination, violence, poverty, etc. Depression is also experienced differently among various cultures. Here are some facts about how depression effects folks in various communities:
- Women experience depression more than twice as much as men do
- LGBTQIA+ youth are at a higher risk for depression and suicide than cis-heterosexual individuals
- Latin@ female youth are more likely to attempt suicide than white female youth
- Black folks are 20% more likely to experience depression than the general population
- Folks with disabilities experience depression at a higher rate than folks without disabilities
By no means is this a comprehensive list, but a few examples of how depression effects all people from all backgrounds. Depression is often best treated by professionals who have an understanding of how intersectionality can impact mental health.
TREATMENT & CURE FOR DEPRESSION
THERAPY AND COUNSELING FOR DEPRESSION
Though many people suffer from depression at least once in their lives, it can be exhausting and isolating. If you are suffering from depression, there is hope. Therapy is a wonderful option to explore the roots of depression and work to alleviate the symptoms you are experience. Therapy can help you increase your motivation and your mood, and give you the support you need to take steps in overcoming depression. You can attend therapy for long term support, or a short term solution depending on your particular needs and interests. If you are considering therapy, I offer a free consultation to help you gain control over your depression.
MAINTAIN A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE
Depression can be overwhelming. There are certainly ways to relieve symptoms today. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help ease the painful symptoms of depression. The American Heart Association recommends thirty minutes of mild to moderate exercise a day for healthy physical and mental health. Eating well, exercising, and engaging in mindfulness exercises (like meditation) are all ways to help decreased symptoms of depression. You can also ask your medical doctor about your symptoms. Sometimes, there are medical reasons for depression that can be treated such as problems with thyroid, hormone levels, or other causes.
MEDICATION FOR DEPRESSION
There are many medications for depression on the market. If you are interested in trying medication, you can find a prescriber in your area. Medication is certainly a good option for some people, however some people like to attempt to treat depression without medication. This can absolutely be done. Therapy and maintaining a healthy lifestyle are highly recommended to compliment medical treatment. Medications often come with side effects that can impact daily life. It is important to ask your doctor about these when discussing medication options.