Depression, also known as a major depressive disorder or clinical depression, is a mood disorder. Generally, 1 in 6 adults will experience depression at least once in their life. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 16 million Americans are diagnosed with depression every year. It can affect everything from how you feel to the way you act, making you feel extreme sadness and isolation from the world. These feelings eventually manifest themselves into a mental and physical state where you cannot function properly in your daily life.
Effects of Depression
Depression affects a person’s life in many ways. Its symptoms can be identified as insomnia, anxiety, loss of interest in pleasurable activities, increased fatigue, suicidal thoughts, extreme isolation, severe sadness, and weight gain/loss.
There is no specific reason for why people develop depression and can happen to a person of any age. Studies have found that adults diagnosed with this condition have had unstable childhoods with high levels of anxiety. There are, however, risk factors that make you more prone to developing the disease. These risk factors could be a family history of depression, trauma, stress, physical illness, life-changing incidents, and medication.
Types of Depression
Many forms of depression generally develop under unique conditions. The different types of depression are listed below:
1. Persistent depressive disorder
A person must be suffering from severe to mild depressive episodes for at least 2 years to be diagnosed as Persistent depressive disorder.
2. Postpartum depression
Women experience postpartum depression during pregnancy or after giving birth. This is a severe depressive disorder that is often mistaken for mild anxiety and depression all mothers experience during and after pregnancy.
3. Psychotic depression
A person is diagnosed with psychotic depression when they have severe depression and an additional psychosis. This person will have severe delusions and hallucinations with a depressive theme, such as believing to have a terminal illness.
4. Seasonal affective disorder
This disorder develops during the winter months when sunlight is less available. This occurs due to less social activity and more sleep due to the cold. It usually dissipates during spring and returns every winter.
5. Bipolar disorder
This is different from depression itself, but a person with bipolar disorder can experience extreme highs and extreme lows. The extreme lows often exhibit symptoms of depression.
Ways To Cope With Depression:
Similar to all other illnesses, depression is treatable.
It will be a lifelong challenge because there is no cure for depression, but it can be managed. People can have depression and live a healthy life if they choose to get treatment for their disorder.
1. Healthy Mind and Body
Depression is a mental illness. It can be managed by diligently working towards maintaining a healthy mind and body balance.
Here are a few things you can do for a healthy mind and body:
a – You can sleep 8 hours a day: Depression impacts your sleep, so aim for 8 hours of complete rest every day.
Lack of proper sleep negatively impacts your health, mood, and other functions.
b Exercise: Regular movement helps with your fatigue set in by depression. It also keeps your body healthy and energized.
c Relaxation activities: Relaxation techniques, such as yoga and meditation, can reduce stress and anxiety.
d Get lots of sunlight. Natural light is known to boost serotonin levels and positively impact your mood.
e Self Reflection: Unresolved trauma or continuous negative thoughts can cause depression. Rewire your brain to think healthy and positive thoughts and dig deep to find any suppressed issues you may have. It is essential to understand the root of your depression.
2. Get Professional Help
It is important to know when you need to seek professional help. A person should try to manage their depression by using self-help techniques mentioned above. However, if you feel your depression getting worse or remaining the same even after doing all of the self-help activities, then it is time to get professional help.
Getting professional help does not mean you are weak or unstable.
Similar to all other illnesses, depression can sometimes require medical assistance. Some studies found that 40 to 60 out of 100 people suffering from depression experienced less severe symptoms with the use of antidepressants. So always feel free to seek professional help when required.
Depression can often be attributed to a person’s brain chemistry.
Antidepressants modify this brain chemistry to alleviate the depressive symptoms. Doctors prescribe antidepressants because they are not stimulant drugs and have no addictive properties. They will generally not affect a person without depressive symptoms. According to the American Psychiatric Association, antidepressants are an extremely effective form of treatment for depression.
However, all individuals experience different levels of depression. Because it is not a physical illness, the amount of medication required varies from person to person. The drug generally takes full effect after 2 to 3 months. If the person feels no improvement, then it is essential to notify your doctor. Your doctor will increase your dosage accordingly. It is also important to tell your doctor if you experience any side effects during medication.
Psychotherapy is also known as talk therapy, which is often used singularly to treat mild forms of depression.
However, psychotherapy and medication are generally performed simultaneously while treating severe depression. According to a study conducted in 2013, psychotherapy had significantly lower rates of relapses (26.5%) than any other form of treatment.
This study also concluded that psychotherapy had lower dropout rates.
Psychotherapy, such as Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) focuses on the present and solving the problems at hand. This therapy is effective in treating depression because it helps a person recognize negative behavior and change them. Psychotherapy also works in a group setting where if a person’s issues originate in their family, family therapy can help them address those troubles and rebuild those relationships.
5. Support System
It is important to have a support system when you are suffering from depression.
Depression can make you feel isolated, and many people have lost their lives due to suicidal thoughts during isolation. So it is crucial to have a support network that can help you at any given moment.
Your support system can comprise your friends and family or anyone you can lean on during severe depressive episodes. Apart from medication and therapy sessions, a support system is the best thing you can do for yourself.