Depression is a real illness that affects people in many different ways. Many people think that depression is just sadness but it is more complex than that. Sadness is something that everyone experiences and it is a normal reaction to problems in life. However, depression is more than just sadness, it is a nuanced issue that impedes with someone’s daily functioning. In fact, many people who experience depression need treatment in order to get better.
About The Illness
Sadness is just a small part of depression, there are a number of other symptoms associated with the mental disorder including physical ones. Some common signs and symptoms of depression include:
- A persistent feeling of sadness or “empty mood”
- Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
- Feelings of guilt
- Loss of interest in hobbies
- Increased fatigue
- Difficulty sleeping
- Thoughts of death or suicide
The reason depression can be dangerous is because of what it can lead to. Major depression increases the risk of suicide compared to people without the problem. In fact, among people who have been treated for depression in a hospital setting are twice as likely to die from suicide.
Similarly, drug addiction is common among those who suffer from mental disorders such as depression or anxiety. And, if proper treatment measures aren’t taken, this can prove to be deadly.
Types of Depression
There are a number of different types of depressive disorders:
Major Depression — characterized by severe symptoms that get in the way of the ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and other tasks. Someone with the condition will often deal with several episodes of major depression throughout their life.
Persistent Depressive Disorder — As the name suggests, this type of depression lasts for a long period of time, at least two years. Someone dealing with persistent depressive disorder may also experience periods of major depression along with less severe problems during the two years.
Psychotic Depression — This happens when a person has severe depression and a form of psychosis, including dealing with delusions or hallucinations.
Postpartum Depression — This occurs after a women gives birth. It generally happens due to the hormonal and physical changes following birth paired with the new responsibility of caring for a child, all of which can be daunting and overwhelming. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 10 to 15 percent of women deal with this type of depression after giving birth.
Seasonal Affective Disorder — This type of depression is characterized by the onset of depression during the winter months. This is generally due to the lack of natural sunlight during wintertime. Seasonal depression can sometimes be treated with light therapy but normally this type of depression will subside during spring and summer.
How To Treat Depression
There is not one silver bullet for depression, however, most cases, even the most severe can be treated. And, the sooner treatment begins, the more effective it will be.
One common form of treatment that sees results is through medication and therapy. Specifically, the combination of antidepressants and psychotherapy have been shown to be effective in improvement of depression symptoms.
What To Do
If you think that you or a loved one is struggling with depression or depressive symptoms, it is best to reach out to a medical professional or health care provider. Speaking with a doctor or a provider who specializes in diagnosing mental health health conditions is a great first step for getting past this illness. A doctor will work to diagnose the issue through physical exams, interviews, and tests to help verify the condition is occurring on its own rather than from the influence of a different mental health condition, medication, or other reason.
Talking with a doctor about the problems that you may be facing, but in order to get a proper diagnosis and treat the issue correctly, the doctor or health provider needs consistent and accurate information.
As mentioned before, one way that a health professional may treat depression is through the use of antidepressants that can help improve the way the brain controls mood and stress. However it should be noted that while antidepressants are generally safe to use, they can cause side effects.
Overall, the best thing to do if you or a loved one is facing depressive symptoms is to speak with a medical professional who will tell you how to proceed. Just by taking this step, you are working to improve a debilitating illness that can even be life-threatening.