What is Depression?
In general, depression is classified as a mood disorder. It may be described as feelings of sadness, loss, or anger that interfere with a person’s everyday activities. As a matter of fact, depression is also fairly common.
Whereby, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 8.1 percent of American adults ages 20 and over had depression in any given two-week period. Especially, from 2013 to 2018.
However, people experience depression in different ways. Not to mention, it may interfere with your daily work, resulting in lost time and lower productivity. And also, it can influence relationships and some chronic health conditions.
There are many different types of depression. In particular, events in your life cause some, and chemical changes in your brain cause others.
What is Mental Health?
In general, mental health includes emotional, psychological, and social well-being.
Not to mention, it affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices.
In other words, mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.
- every individual realizes his or her own potential,
- can cope with the normal stresses of life,
- can work productively and fruitfully,
- and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.
The positive dimension of mental health is stressed in WHO’s definition of health as contained in its constitution:
“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
This fact highlights the important aspects of mental health and disorders.
Is Depression Affiliated to Mental Health?
Over the course of your life, if you experience mental health problems, your thinking, mood, and behavior could be affected.
Many factors contribute to mental health problems, including:
- Biological factors, such as genes or brain chemistry
- Life experiences, such as trauma or abuse
- Family history of mental health problems
Types and Forms of Depression
It’s normal to feel down once in a while, but if you’re sad most of the time and it affects your daily life, you may have clinical depression.
Depression is a condition you can treat with medicine, talking to a therapist and changes to your lifestyle. Whatever the cause, your first step is to let your doctor know how you’re feeling.
1. Major Depression
Your doctor might diagnose you with major depression if you have five or more of these symptoms on most days for 2 weeks or longer.
At least one of the symptoms must be a depressed mood or loss of interest in activities.
You may hear your doctor call this “major depressive disorder.” You might have this type if you feel depressed most of the time for most days of the week.
Other Symptoms of a Major Depression include:
- Loss of interest or pleasure in your activities
- Weight loss or gain
- Trouble getting to sleep or feeling sleepy during the day
- Feelings restless and agitated, or else very sluggish and slowed down physically or mentally
- Being tired and without energy
- Feeling worthless or guilty
- Trouble concentrating or making decisions
- Thoughts of suicide
All in all, talk therapy can greatly help!
You’ll meet with a mental health specialist who will help you find ways to manage your depression.
2. Persistent Depressive Disorder
By the same token, if you have depression that lasts for 2 years or longer, it’s called persistent depressive disorder.
You may have symptoms such as:
- Trouble concentrating or making decisions
- Change in your appetite (not eating enough or overeating)
- Sleep too much or too little
- Lack of energy, or fatigue
- Low self-esteem and a feeling of hopelessness
3. Bipolar Disorder
Someone with bipolar disorder, which is also sometimes called “manic depression,” has mood episodes that range from extremes of high energy with an “up” mood to low “depressive” periods.
When you’re in a low phase, you’ll have the symptoms of major depression.
Medication can help bring your mood swings under control. Whether you’re in a high or a low period, your doctor may suggest a mood stabilizer, such as lithium.
The FDA has approved three medicines to treat the Bipolar depression phase:
Doctors sometimes prescribe other drugs “off label” for bipolar depression, such as the anticonvulsant lamotrigine or the atypical antipsychotic Vraylar.
Traditional antidepressants are not always recommended as first-line treatments for bipolar depression because there’s no proof from studies that these drugs are more helpful than a placebo (a sugar pill) in treating depression in people with bipolar disorder.
Also, for a small percentage of people with bipolar disorder, some traditional antidepressants may increase the risk of causing a “high” phase of illness or speeding up the frequency of having more episodes over time.
4. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
The seasonal affective disorder is a period of major depression that most often happens during the winter months when the days grow short and you get less and less sunlight.
It typically goes away in the spring and summer. If you have SAD, antidepressants can help. So can light therapy.
You’ll need to sit in front of a special bright lightbox for about 15-30 minutes each day.
5. Psychotic Depression
People with psychotic depression have symptoms of major depression along with “psychotic” symptoms, such as:
- Delusions (false beliefs)
- Paranoia (wrongly believing that others are trying to harm you)
- Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t there)
6. Peripartum (Postpartum) Depression
Women who have major depression in the weeks and months after childbirth may have peripartum depression.
Antidepressant drugs can help similarly to treating major depression that is unrelated to childbirth.
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
Women with PMDD have depression and other symptoms at the start of their period.
Besides feeling depressed, you may also have:
- Fatigue, Irritability, and Anxiety
- Trouble concentrating and Mood swings
- Change in appetite or sleep habits
- Feelings of being overwhelmed
7. ‘Situational’ Depression
This isn’t a technical term in psychiatry. But you can have a depressed mood when you’re having trouble managing a stressful event in your life.
Such as a death in your family, a divorce, or losing your job. Your doctor may call this “stress response syndrome.”
8. Atypical Depression
This type is different than the persistent sadness of typical depression.
It is considered to be a “specifier” that describes a pattern of depressive symptoms.
If you have atypical depression, a positive event can temporarily improve your mood.
Other symptoms of atypical depression include:
How some People Cope with Depression
Instead of talking about how they feel, some people use alcohol or drugs to feel better.
But, in the end, this usually makes things worse, certainly in the long run.
For instance, your work will suffer and alcohol often leads to irresponsible, unpleasant or dangerous behavior.
You also focus more on work rather than on relationships or home life. And this can cause conflicts with your husband, wife or even your partner.
Moreover, conditions that can get worse due to depression include:
How do you Manage a Chronic Depression?
For most patients, episodes of major depression last a limited amount of time.
Generally, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) specifies that symptoms last at least two weeks.
And also, treatment studies report a median duration of about 20 weeks. But, for some patients, the condition becomes chronic — with symptoms lasting at least two years.
Episodic and Chronic Depression
The differences between episodic and chronic depression encompass more than just duration.
Studies show that, compared with episodic major depression, chronic depression causes;
- more functional impairment,
- increases risk of suicide,
- and is more likely to occur in conjunction with other psychiatric disorders.
It’s important to realize that feeling down at times is a normal part of life. Sad and upsetting events happen to everyone.
But, if you’re feeling miserable or hopeless on a regular basis, you could be dealing with depression.
Patients with chronic depression are also more likely than patients with episodic depression to report childhood trauma and a family history of mood disorders.
Because the chronic one lasts longer and tends to be more severe than an episodic one, treatment is more intensive. Relapse is also a challenge.
About half of patients with chronic depression who respond to treatment will suffer a relapse within one to two years if they stop treatment.
Whether with antidepressants, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two. For that reason, some type of maintenance therapy may be necessary.
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