Are you experiencing any of these common signs and symptoms of depression?
- Feeling hopeless and helpless
- Inability to concentrate
- Inability to control negative thoughts regardless of how much you try
- Loss of appetite or inability to stop eating
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Feeling more irritable or aggressive than usual
- Drinking more alcohol than usual
- Lack of interest in doing pleasurable activities
- Loss of energy
- Unexplained aches and pains
- Recurring thoughts of death or suicide
If emptiness and despair have taken hold of your life and won’t go away, you may have depression. Depression makes it difficult to function and enjoy life like you once did. Just getting through the day can be overwhelming. Understanding the symptoms, causes, and treatment of depression is the first step to overcoming the problem.
It is important to understand that there are different types of depression and that they are not all the same.
Major Depression is characterized by a constant sense of hopelessness and despair. With major depression it may be difficult to sleep, eat, work, study, and perform daily activities. Major depression is marked by a depressed mood most of the day, particularly in the morning, and a loss of interest in normal activities and relationships — symptoms that are present every day for at least 2 weeks.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, major depression affects about 7% of the U.S. population over age 18. It is estimated that between 20% and 25% of adults will suffer an episode of major depression at some point during their lifetime.
Major depression also affects older adults, teenagers, and children, but frequently goes undiagnosed and untreated in these populations.
Almost twice as many women as men will experience a major depressive episode; hormonal changes during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, miscarriage, and menopause, may increase the risk. Other factors that contribute to the risk of clinical depression in women include increased stress at home or at work, balancing family life with career, and caring for an aging parent. Raising a child alone will also increase the risk.
It is believed that the rate of depression in men is significantly underreported. Depressed men are less likely than women to acknowledge feelings of hopelessness. Instead, they tend to complain about fatigue, irritability, sleep problems, and loss of interest in work and hobbies. Men who suffer from depression are less likely to seek help or even talk about their experience. Signs of depression in men may include irritability, anger, or drug and alcohol abuse (substance abuse can also be a cause of depression rather than the result of it). Repressed feelings can result in violent behavior directed both inwardly and outwardly. It can also result in an increase in illness, suicide, and homicide.
Chronic Depression or Dysthymia is a milder form of depression that affects millions of Americans. Dysthymia symptoms can linger for a long period of time, often two years or longer. It is also possible for those who suffer from dysthymia to also experience periods of major depression.
The exact causes of dysthymia or major depression are not completely known. Genes may play a role, but many affected people will not have a family history of depression, and others with family history will not have depression problems. Changes in levels of brain chemicals are also believed to be involved. Major life stressors, chronic illness, medications, and relationship or work problems may also increase the chances of dysthymia.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 2% of adult Americans are affected by dysthymia. While not disabling like major depression, dysthymia can keep you from feeling your best and functioning optimally. Dysthymia can begin in childhood or in adulthood and seems to be more common in women.
Postpartum depression is linked to chemical, social, and psychological changes associated with having a baby. The term describes a range of physical and emotional changes that many new mothers experience. The good news is postpartum depression can be treated with medication and counseling.
The chemical changes involve a rapid drop in hormones after delivery. The actual link between this drop and depression is still not clear. But what is known is that the levels of estrogen and progesterone, the female reproductive hormones, increase tenfold during pregnancy. Then, they drop sharply after delivery. By three days after a woman gives birth, the levels of these hormones drop back to what they were before she got pregnant.
In addition to these chemical changes, social and psychological changes associated with having a baby create an increased risk of depression.
Symptoms of postpartum depression are similar to what happens normally following childbirth. They include lack of sleep, appetite changes, excessive fatigue, decreased libido, and frequent mood changes. However, these are also accompanied by other symptoms of major depression which may include depressed mood; loss of pleasure; feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, and helplessness; and thoughts of death or suicide.
All depression is serious but it is also very treatable. As with any illness, early diagnosis and treatment may reduce the intensity and duration of symptoms and also reduce the likelihood of developing an episode of major depression.
Take action now to get the professional help you need. Call (703)-437-6311 or email us at Info@centerforlifestrategies.com and schedule a Free consultation with a therapist experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of depression.