This video by the National Alliance on Mental Illness is only one minute long but it captures a brief overview of what depression manifests as in someone’s life.
Depression, formerly known as Depressive Disorder in the DSM-5 is more than a simple sad feeling or having a sad day. I think it is used as a feeling, ‘I feel depressed’ but many are using the term loosely without fully understanding the weight of this mental health illness.
According to NAMI “more than 17 million U.S. adults—over 7% of the population—had at least one major depressive episode in the past year. People of all ages and all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds experience depression, but it does affect some groups more than others.” Depressive disorder affects many people each year. Many go untreated, but for those who do seek treatment the prognosis is good!
Symptoms of Depression
Depression can present different symptoms, depending on the person. According to the DSM-5, for most people it appears with common symptoms that persist for a period longer than two weeks. Some of the symptoms include: sleep changes, appetite changes, lack of concentration, loss of energy, hopelessness thoughts, decrease in movement, physical aches and pain, suicidal thoughts, and lack of interest in activities. Depressive Disorders fall into the category of mood disorders, they alter a person’s mood to be abnormally sad.
What are some common types of Depressive Disorders?
Major Depressive disorder occurs when depression symptoms persist for longer than 2 weeks and it is the first episode of depression. Persistent Depressive disorder occurs when depression symptoms have persisted for more days than not for a period longer than 2 years. Postpartum Depression occurs after women have a baby and experience depression symptoms that were not present before pregnancy and birth of child.
What are some causes of Depressive Disorders?
There are many things that can cause depression, a sudden life change, crisis, physical illnesses and sudden hormone changes. Trauma can cause depression for people when left untreated. Mood disorders are also genetically linked and can run in families, depression is one of the more common ones. Substance abuse is linked to depression as well, sometimes the substance abuse is masking the pain of depression.
Some of the common treatments for depression
I want to share some of these because the one thing that keeps people from getting help sometimes is depression makes you feel hopeless. Depression treatments have proved to be successful. Cognitive behavior therapy is one of the most common forms of psychotherapy that is used and when combined with medication the success rate is increased. Medications can help boost mood and energy; there are mood stabilizers and antidepressants. Exercise has been shown to improve mood and manage mild depression symptoms as well. There are several alternative therapies like acupuncture and meditation that can be incorporated into a holistic approach to managing and treating depression.
I know from my personal journey, that there is hope for those of us who battle depression. Just because it runs in your family, or you have suffered from it for what seems like forever does not mean there is no hope.
How can I help?
Depressive disorders are common. The danger of depression is it changes our thoughts and affects our mood making us more sad. The pain of depression also keeps the person suffering from it in an often sad, dark place. Motivation to get out of bed, to get out and be around people dwindles; making the danger of this mood disorder great because one of the ways to battle depression is to get social support and exercise. The best way to help a loved one suffering is by being able to be there for them, offering encouragment and support.
When someone is experiencing depression the disorder makes them want to isolate and only perpetuates the cycle. It can be hard to be in a relationship with someone who suffers from depression, they may appear cold or uninterested in communicating or being around you socially. Know that they are hurting and in pain, and gently continue to press in, don’t give up!
If you or a someone you know is battling with depression there are a multitude of recourses available. The National Suicide Hotline is 1-800-273-8255. If you need support and prefer to text there is a text hotline you simply text the word HOME to 741741. NAMI has a hotline as well 1-800-950-6264.
Mental Health America has great screening tools to help you.