What is it?
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.
People experience depression in different ways. It may interfere with your daily work, resulting in lost time and lower productivity. It also can influence relationships and some chronic health conditions such; arthritis, asthma, cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity.
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.
Depression can be more than a constant state of sadness or feeling “blue.” Symptoms may also be on going or come and go.
Depression can affect men, women, and children differently.
Symptoms of depression in men may include:
Mood: anger, aggressiveness, irritability, anxiousness, restlessness
Emotional: feeling empty, sad, hopeless
Behavioural: loss of interest, no longer finding pleasure in favourite activities, feeling tired easily, thoughts of suicide, drinking excessively, using drugs, engaging in high-risk activities
Sexual: reduced sexual desire, lack of sexual performance
Cognitive: inability to concentrate, difficulty completing tasks, delayed responses during conversations
Sleep: insomnia, restless sleep, excessive sleepiness, not sleeping through the night
Physical: fatigue, pains, headache, digestive problems
Symptoms of depression in women may include:
Emotional: feeling sad or empty, anxious or hopeless
Behavioural: loss of interest in activities, withdrawing from social engagements, thoughts of suicide
Cognitive: thinking or talking more slowly
Sleep: difficulty sleeping through the night, waking early, sleeping too much
Physical: decreased energy, greater fatigue, changes in appetite, weight changes, aches, pain, headaches, increased cramps
Symptoms of depression in children may include:
Mood: irritability, anger, mood swings, crying
Emotional: feelings of incompetence (e.g. “I can’t do anything right”) or despair, crying, intense sadness
Behavioural: getting into trouble at school or refusing to go to school, avoiding friends or siblings, thoughts of death or suicide
Cognitive: difficulty concentrating, decline in school performance, changes in grades
Sleep: difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
Physical: loss of energy, digestive problems, changes in appetite, weight loss or gain
The symptoms can extend beyond your mind. These eight physical symptoms of depression prove that depression isn’t just all in your head.
Common causes of Depression
Family History. You’re at a higher risk for developing depression if you have a family history of depression or another mood disorder.
Early Childhood Trauma. Some events impact the way that body reacts to fear and stressful situations.
Brain Structure. There’s a greater risk for depression if the frontal lobe of your brain is less active. However, scientists don’t know if this happens before or after the onset of depressive symptoms.
Medical Conditions. Certain conditions may put you at higher risk, such as chronic illness, insomnia, chronic pain, or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Drug Use. A history of drug or alcohol misuse can impact your risk.
Many other people may never learn the cause of their depression.
In addition to these causes, other risk factors for depression include:
*Low self-esteem or being self-critical
*Personal history of mental illness
*Stressful events, such as loss of a loved one, economic problems, or a divorce.
Effects of Depression
If left untreated, complications will include:
*Weight gain or loss
*Substance use problems
Types of Depression
Depression can be broken into categories depending on the severity of symptoms. Some people experience mild and temporary episodes, while others experience severe and ongoing depressive episodes.
There are two main types: major depressive disorder and persistent depressive disorder.
Major Depressive Disorder
Major depressive disorder is the more severe form of depression. It’s characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness that don’t go away on their own.
You must experience 5 or more of the following symptoms over a two-week period:
*Feeling depressed most of the day
*Loss of interest in most regular activities
*Significant weight loss or gain
*Sleeping too much or not being able to sleep
*Slowed thinking or movement
*Fatigue or low energy most days
*Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
*Loss of concentration or indecisiveness
*Recurring thoughts of death or suicide
There are different sub-types of major depressive disorder “specifiers”. These include:
*Peripartum onset, during pregnancy or right after giving birth
Persistent Depressive Disorder
Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD) used to be called dysthymia. It’s a milder, but chronic, form of depression.
In order for the diagnosis to be made, symptoms must last for at least two years. PDD can affect your life more than major depression because it lasts for a longer period.
It’s common for people with PDD to:
*Lose interest in normal daily activities
*Have low self-esteem
Treatment for depression
Your doctor may prescribe antidepressants, antianxiety, or antipsychotic medications.
Speaking with a therapist can help you learn skills to cope with negative feelings. You may also benefit from family or group therapy sessions.
Ask your doctor about acupuncture or meditation. Some herbal supplements are also used to treat depression, like St. John’s wort, SAMe, and fish oil.
Talk with your doctor before taking a supplement or combining a supplement with prescription medication because some supplements can react with certain medications. Some supplements may also worsen depression or reduce the effectiveness of medication.
Aim for 30 minutes of physical activity three to five days a week. Exercise can increase your body’s production of endorphins, which are hormones that improve your mood.
Avoid alcohol and drugs
Drinking or using drugs may make you feel better for a little bit. But in the long run, these substances can make depression and anxiety symptoms worse.
Learn how to say no
Feeling overwhelmed can worsen anxiety and depression symptoms. Setting boundaries in your professional and personal life can help you feel better.
Take care of yourself
You can also improve symptoms of depression by taking care of yourself. This includes getting plenty of sleep, eating a healthy diet, avoiding negative people, and participating in enjoyable activities.
Techniques that may help include:
*Getting plenty of sleep
*Building strong relationships with others