– Depression –
Depression is a common mood disorder that can be serious. In fact, it affects over 19 million teens and adults in the United States. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think and handle common daily activities such as eating, sleeping or working. It can also be detrimental to relationships with friends and family
Depression is more than simply feeling “blue” or sad for a few days. For those with depression, feelings of sadness or despair do not go away and last for extended periods of time. To be diagnosed with depression, symptoms must be present for a minimum of two weeks.
Kinds of Depression
Persistent depressive disorder:
A prolonged depressed mood that persists for at least two years. Those diagnosed with persistent depressive disorder may experience episodes of major depression along with periods of less severe symptoms.
This manifests itself when a person has severe depression plus some form of psychosis – delusions, hallucinations, paranoia. The psychotic symptoms typically have a depressive theme that fuels the depressive state, such as delusions of guilt or illness.
Seasonal affective disorder:
Commonly characterized by the onset of depression during the winter months and thought to be due to decreased exposure to natural sunlight. It typically subsides during spring and summer months. It is often accompanied by increased sleep, social withdrawal and weight gain.
Signs and Symptoms
If you have consistently experienced some of the following signs and symptoms for at least two weeks you may be suffering from depression:
- Feelings of sadness and depression
- Decreased energy or fatigue
- Persistent sadness or feelings of hopelessness
- Appetite and/or weight changes
- Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- Difficulty concentrating or remembering
- Lack of interest in favorite hobbies/activities
- Restlessness or difficulty sitting still
- Sleeping disorders/troubled sleep
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Headaches, cramps, aches and pains or digestive issues that have no clear physical cause and do not ease with treatment
*Symptology in children may drastically differ from adults*
Some people who suffer from depression may experience only a few symptoms while others may experience several. The severity and frequency of symptoms vary by individual.
Depression is caused by a combination of genetic, psychological and environmental factors. It can occur at any age, but typically begins in adulthood. In children and adolescents, irritability is usually more prominent than depressed mood. Serious medical illnesses such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes may also lead to depressive symptoms.
Key risk factors include:
- A learned pattern of depression
- Major life changes, trauma or stress
- Certain physical illnesses and medications
- Social isolation
- Death of a loved one
Treatments and Therapies
Depression can be treated – even the most severe cases. Typically, the earlier treatment begins, the more effective it is. Depression is commonly treated through psychotherapy, medication or both.
Psychotherapy (or “talk therapy”) is a proven method that helps people with depression understand why they are feeling the way they do, and fosters a mindset for improved mental health.
Evidence-based psychotherapy approaches, specific to the treatment of depression, can include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), problem-solving therapy and interpersonal therapy (IPT).
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a hands-on, goal-oriented therapy that employs a practical approach to problem solving. The goal of this therapy is to change underlying patterns of thinking or behavior that may be causing mental health issues.
- T.E.A.M. Therapy (Testing. Empathy. Paradoxical Agenda Setting. Methods.) builds on CBT by offering additional psychotherapy techniques. T.E.A.M. empowers the patient to set the agenda at therapy sessions and work as a partner with an empathetic therapist to achieve goals.
- Problem-solving therapy is a form of cognitive-behavioral intervention that works on improving the ability to cope with stressful life experiences. It does this by helping individuals understand the role emotions play in the thought process as well as develop an action plan geared toward reducing psychological distress and improving well-being.
- Interpersonal therapy (IPT) is a highly structured and time-limited psychotherapy approach that focuses on the attachments in an individual’s life and resolving interpersonal problems at the center of psychological issues.
Things You Can Do Beyond Treatment
Be proactive in managing this disorder:
- Remain active and regularly exercise
- Set realistic and achievable goals
- Spend time with other people – avoid isolating yourself
- Seek positive affirmations from yourself