Many people deal with feelings of sadness from time to time. Throughout life, there are a lot of different occurrences that may affect your emotions. But when feelings of sadness come out of nowhere or last for a long time, it might be more than just a passing feeling, and getting help may be your best option for feeling better.
What is Depression?
So, what exactly is depression? Depression, also known as major depressive disorder, is a mental illness that affects many different people. Depression has the potential to affect the way you think and the way you act. Depression causes overwhelming feelings of sadness, often accompanied by a lack of interest in activities you previously enjoyed taking part in. When depression is untreated over a period of time, it can lead to a variety of different physical and mental problems that make living life difficult. Sufferers may lose the ability to function properly at home, at work, and with friends.
Depression is different from normal feelings of grief or sadness. Grieving a loss is a normal process that can involve intense feelings of sadness that may be mistaken for depression. During times of grief, after the loss of a loved one, a job, or the end of a relationship, feelings of sadness are intermixed with other positive feelings or memories. When it comes to major depression, mood tends to be low the majority of the time over weeks, along with a feeling of low self-esteem or feelings of self-loathing. Grief and depression may coexist at times, which can worsen and extend the length of time one spends grieving.
What Causes Depression?
The specific cause of depression in an individual can be complex and difficult to determine at times. While depression is often thought to occur as the result of a chemical imbalance within the brain, there is more to the disorder than you may think. In fact, there are many different potential causes of depression. Some individuals are more genetically predisposed to issues with depression, which is why the disorder may seem to run in families. In some cases, the brain may have issues properly regulating moods.
Stressful life events may also have an impact on feelings of depression. Instances of trauma, abuse, and conflict can bring on depression. Certain medications, like corticosteroids, can increase a person’s risk of developing depression. Gender may have an impact on your risk of experiencing depression as well, as more women find themselves feeling depressed in comparison to men. This may be because women experience more hormonal changes throughout their lives.
Age plays a role in the risk of becoming depressed as well, with the elderly at higher risk of depression. In most cases, a combination of these issues cause depression. Getting help from a healthcare professional can help you determine the cause or causes of your depression, as well as how to cope with those feelings.
Who is at Risk of Depression?
Determining who is at risk for depression is easier said than done due to the complex nature of Major Depressive Disorder. While there are some potential problems that can increase the chances of developing depression, the exact causes are unknown.
Those who are more advanced in age are at an increased risk of depression. Women also tend to deal with the disorder more often than men.
Taking certain medications can increase your chance of developing depression. A family history of the disorder may also make you more prone to feelings of depression.
Experiencing instances of trauma may increase your chances of developing depression, whether right after your traumatic experience or after a prolonged period.
While none of these risk factors guarantee that you will develop the disorder, exhibiting any or all of these risks may increase the possibility of you having problems like major depressive disorder throughout your lifetime.
Symptoms of Depression
There are many different symptoms of depression, both physical and psychological in nature. While some individuals may only experience instances of depression once or twice throughout their life, others may have life-long episodes of the disorder. Symptoms of depression will vary from person to person, as the disorder affects individuals in vastly different ways.
Feelings of overwhelming sadness and hopelessness are one sign of depression. Feeling numb or empty can be another sign. Those who deal with depression may find themselves tearful or prone to crying at random.
People who suffer from depression may find themselves feeling anger or frustration. These feelings may occur even over small issues that may not have bothered the individual in the past.
Those dealing with a major depressive disorder often find that they lose interest in activities they have enjoyed in the past. Hobbies, sports, and other normal activities may seem to lose their appeal. People who are depressed also typically find that their sex drive is lowered.
Depression has the potential to cause a lack of energy. Small tasks and day-to-day duties like chores may seem overwhelming.
Anxiety levels may increase when experiencing depression. Problems like insomnia or trouble falling asleep may begin. Oversleeping is also a symptom of depression.
Changes in weight are also typical for those suffering from depression. Weight gain and weight loss are both possible symptoms, depending on the individual.
Depression may make the sufferer feel as though they are moving in slow motion throughout life. They may experience slowed speech, slowed thinking, and slowed movements. Additionally, thoughts may seem foggy, and it may be difficult to concentrate. Making decisions and remembering things may be harder than before.
Individuals suffering from depression may find themselves feeling worthless or guilty over past experiences.
Those with depression may find themselves experiencing unexplained physical pain. Back pain and headaches are common complaints among those suffering from depression.
In extreme cases of depression, individuals may find themselves thinking of death, harming themselves, and suicide.
Treatment for Depression
Getting help for depression is very important. When left untreated, depression can worsen until thoughts of suicide feel overwhelming, leading to self-harm and suicide attempts. With the right treatment, depression can be treated, and individuals can go on to lead regular, happy lives.
Depression is typically treated through therapy and medical intervention when necessary. Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, is a common treatment for depression and may at times be sufficient on its own for treating the disorder. Cognitive behavioral therapy is one common type of psychotherapy used in the treatment of depression. CBT focuses on problem-solving, identifying negative thinking, and replacing distorted thinking with positive responses to issues. Psychotherapy can also involve others like family members or spouses.
Antidepressant medication may also be prescribed to the individual. Antidepressants are non-addictive in nature and can help improve faulty brain chemistry that may cause issues like depression. Sometimes multiple medications must be tried before finding the right dose and medication type for a particular individual.
Getting Help for Depression
Getting help for depression is important for those who experience the disorder. When left untreated, depression can lead to self-harm and thoughts of suicide. Receiving assistance from a trained therapist, psychiatrist, or mental health treatment center can help you work through your feelings of depression in order to find the root causes specific to you as an individual. With treatment, it is possible to overcome depression and lead and life of happiness and health.