One of the most prevalent mental disorders in the U.S., depression affects one in every six U.S. adults at some point in their lives. This mood disorder involves feelings of sorrow and hopelessness that far outpace run-of-the-mill emotions. A patient’s mood as well as their way of conducting themselves is affected by depression.
People who suffer from depression (aka major depressive disorder) may feel isolated and not reach out for help. It is, however, a manageable illness that can be effectively treated with the right interventions.
The Distinctions between Clinical Depression and Bad Mood
Moments of crisis can cause feelings of sadness and hopelessness in anyone. During times of crises, patients may want to seek out professional help. These scenarios vary from major depressive disorder, however, because of their duration. Clinical depression is defined as depression that lasts for more than two weeks. Symptoms also must interfere with a patient’s quality of life. Sometimes, a professional may give a diagnosis when symptoms are very severe even if they are short in duration.
Clinical depression requires five or more of the following symptoms:
- Daily depressed mood
- Suicidal ideation
- A lack of interest in previously engaging activities
- Memory and concentration issues
- Sudden weight loss or weight gain
- Feelings of uselessness
- Feeling tired or having limited energy
- Twitching or restlessness
- Unusually slow motion
Some symptoms common with depression but not part of the diagnostic criteria are:
- Irritable mood
- Sudden changes in appetite
- Feelings of anxiousness, persistent anxiety
Physical symptoms can include joint pain, back pain, and digestive problems.
The Causes of Depression
Identifying the root cause of depression is crucial in diagnosing and treating the disorder. Multiple stressors can result in depression, however. Working closely with a professional in a clinical setting can help identify the cause or causes of depression. The following are some causes that are often linked with depression.
Major Life Changes
Major life changes such as a death in the family, getting fired, or the end of a relationship can cause depression in anyone. When symptoms are present for longer than 14 days, a clinician may diagnose a major depressive disorder.
Thyroid and autoimmune disease can sometimes cause depression, as well. In these cases, intervention with the underlying physical condition is as important as therapeutic intervention for the depression.
Sometimes, patients may have a certain biochemistry that causes depression. Research is ongoing, and there is not consensus yet on what chemical imbalance may cause depression, but medication has been shown to help.
Genetics and Depression
While research is ongoing, it is estimated that some forty percent of depressive patients have a genetic predisposition toward the disease. Identifying the genetic component in depression will help parents with depression get early intervention for their children.
Can we eliminate depression?
Depression is a manageable condition. Seeking treatment alone results in improvement in 80 percent of patients, according to some research. Those with a biological cause of depression may need to stay on medication for years or even their whole lives, but the symptoms are manageable with medication.
Dealing with Depression
It is often difficult for those with depression to take the first steps and seek out intervention. The disorder itself may prevent them from taking the initiative, along with self-doubt and feelings of helplessness. Anyone experience depression should know that it is a treatable condition and that seeking out help is a necessary step in healing.
When Emergency Care is Necessary
When depression moves towards suicidal ideation, immediate intervention is necessary. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or engaging in self-harm, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
If you suspect a friend or member of your family is suicidal or self harming, take them to emergency care or a nearby mental health facility.
Seeking out Therapy or Psychiatric Support
Talk therapy can be very beneficial for patients with depression. Talk therapy and/or CBT can help chronic sufferers develop tools to combat the symptoms of depression, while short term sufferers can work their way through the problem at hand. If you or a loved one has symptoms of depression, make an appointment to see a therapist and discuss your talk therapy options.
Psychiatrists are the best option for those who want a medical intervention via medication. medical doctors who specialize in mental health disorders. As medical doctors who specialize in mental health, however, they can help any patient. Medication can also help those with acute onset of depression due to a traumatic life event.
Along with medication and/or talk therapy, employing lifestyle tools can also help depression sufferers. Anything from exercising regularly to meditating can ameliorate the symptoms of this disorder.