What is depression?
Being depressed often feels heavy, but you’re not alone in this fight. Millions of Americans suffer from depression each year, making it one of the country’s most common mental illnesses.
A deeper understanding of depression can help you to begin the path to healing. Taking the time to learn more about the causes and symptoms of depression will be very helpful when it comes time to consider treatment options.
Depression is more than sad. Everybody feels bored or unmotivated from time to time, but depression is more serious. It is a mood disorder characterized by persistent feelings of sadness and loss of interest in daily activities. If these symptoms persist for a period of at least two weeks, this is considered a depressive episode.
Causes of depression
There is no cause for depression because it is based on a unique combination of genetic make-up and environmental conditions of an individual. There are many factors to consider:
- The physical or chemical structure of the brain
- History of depression in the family
- History of other disorders (anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder)
- Stressful and traumatic events (abuse, financial problems, death of a loved one)
- Hormonal changes (menstrual cycle, pregnancy)
- Certain medications (sleeping pills, medicines for blood pressure)
- Major depression, as we have discussed, is the most common type of depression. Often people with major depression experience recurring episodes in their lives.
- Dysthymia is a persistent mood for a long time, even a year or more. It could be described as the feeling of living with an autopilot.
- Some people are more sensitive to the least amount of light in winter. Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that is caused by a lack of natural sunlight.
- People with atypical depression often report heaviness in their extremities. You may suffer from irritability and relationship problems, as well as overeating and sleeping too much.
- Bipolar disorder is also called manic-depressive disorder because it involves alternating manic and depressive episodes.
- Sometimes depressive episodes can become so severe that hallucinations or delusions are present, the person becomes catatonic or feels trapped in bed. This is known as psychotic depression.
- Postpartum depression occurs after birth. Mothers may feel disconnected from their new baby or may fear that they might hurt their baby.
- The major depression that occurs during the second half of the menstrual cycle is called premenstrual dysphoric disorder. It affects the individual’s ability to function normally.
- Situational depression is triggered by a life-changing event. It can be anything from job loss to the death of a family member.
Signs and symptoms of depression
Although there are more types of depression, many of them have similar recognizable symptoms. This list scratches the surface, but offers a general description of what depression involves:
- Persistent feelings of sadness, despair, uselessness or emptiness
- Irritability, frustration or restlessness
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies that used to be fun
- Difficulty sleeping, sleeping or sleeping too much
- Fatigue and lack of energy
- Difficulty thinking, remembering, concentrating or making decisions
- Fluctuations in appetite or weight
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
- Physical symptoms such as headache, abdominal pain or back pain
Experiencing a combination of these symptoms over a period of at least two weeks probably means that you are in a depressive episode.
Any treatment for depression should be accompanied by a healthy diet and regular sleep habits. It may seem easy, but you can not overestimate the importance of caring for your body.
There are several methods you can use to relieve the symptoms of depression. We can all exercise more often, but exercise is especially useful for the depressed mind. It allows you to cope better with stress and the endorphins released during exercise give you a mental boost. In addition to mental health benefits, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that physical activity helps you sleep better at night.
Yoga is a more accessible form of exercise because it does not require any equipment and because many of the movements and poses do not require too much effort. Meditation is a very effective way to cleanse the mind and calm the body. It is also easy to do guided meditations on applications and books online by phone, text and video.
If you like keeping a diary, you can put your thoughts on paper instead of sending them. It is helpful to have close friends and relatives who you can trust, but who are not always available or stressed. This makes Diary a good alternative for alternative ventilation.
Therapy with a certified therapist or counselor can work wonders, and many patients may prefer therapy over the therapeutic route. In particular, situational depression can be alleviated with a way to eliminate everything from the chest and get practical advice.
For a more practical approach, try specialists such as psychiatrists or psychologists. They offer many forms of therapy, from light therapy for seasonal affective disorder to cognitive-behavioral therapy that can alter mental processes.
Other alternatives include drinking specialty tea or taking supplements. The properties of green tea and chamomile give them a calming effect and some can drink tea from St. John’s wort to treat depression. It can also be taken as a supplement. Although there is no evidence that St. John’s wort is the best symptom of depression, fish oil and SAM-e are dietary supplements with proven effects.
It is not a pity to take medication for depression. People regularly take medications for physical illnesses and a mental illness is no different. If you are concerned about possible side effects, consult your doctor to discuss the problem. Each medication can be reduced or suspended, and there are several types that are tailored to your individual needs and chemistry.
Remember that recreation is a journey, not a destination. The bad days will come back, but with a specific treatment, you should be able to overcome the extreme depths. Although science has not found a cure for mental disorders such as depression, it is still possible to lead a happy and fulfilling life.