What is depression?
Depression is a type of mood disorder. We can describe depression as a feeling of loss, anger, or sadness. While having these feelings is natural for a person, the problem begins when they start to get in the way of the functioning of daily life. Depression is among the leading causes of disability worldwide as per the World health organization’s report.
If the signs of feeling low and sadness last for at least two weeks, it is considered depression. Depression can also last for longer, such as for multiple weeks, months, or even several years.
Types of depression
There are various forms of depression, and knowing which one you have can drastically help you cope with it.
The most common forms of depression are:
A person has major depression when the symptoms are present throughout the day, almost every day, and for at least two weeks and interfere with the normal functioning of life such as study, sleep, eating, etc. For many people, this type of condition only occurs once in their lifetime, but some might face it several times.
Persistent depressive disorder or dysthymia
A person is said to have this type of depression when the symptoms last for at least two years. People with this type of depression can experience major depressive episodes with the persisting periods of less severe symptoms.
Apart from the two most common types, there are also the following variants of depression:
It is also called postpartum depression, which can occur to women after giving birth. The episodes of major depression during this period are caused by readjusting levels of hormones, which can result in severe mood changes.
Major depressive disorder with seasonal pattern
This form was previously called Seasonal affective disorder (SAD). The symptoms of this form of depression come about with the reduction in daylight during the winter season. It mostly affects people living in places with prolonged or severe winters. People with this depression seems to have reduced or virtually no symptoms during other seasons.
This form of depression occurs in people who also have psychosis. It is a combination of severe symptoms of depression and elements of psychosis, like delusions or hallucinations.
Symptoms of depression
While one of the significant signs of depression is sadness, everyone who has depression doesn’t need to experience it. Many people do not feel dad at all but can show other symptoms of depression.
Depression symptoms include:
- Decreased energy
- Loss of interest in hobbies and pleasure activities
- Disturbed sleep patterns
- Feeling of hopelessness
- Continuous feeling of sadness or emptiness
- Feeling fatigued without any reason
- Changes in appetite
- Loss of sexual desires
- Feeling of worthlessness
- Trouble concentrating
- Difficulty making decisions
Symptoms of depression also vary according to gender and age. Women, men, older adults, and children, all experience depression differently.
Causes of depression
The main factor responsible for depression is not known. But, many elements can contribute to the development of the sings of depression in a person, including:
- Environmental factors
- Other medical conditions like bipolar disorder
- Changes in neurotransmitter levels in the brain
- Psychological and social factors
- Drug use
- History of mental illness
- Low self-esteem
- Crucial life events, such as the death of a loved one or loss of a job
Before the treatment, your doctor will ask some questions regarding the condition. These will include:
- When the symptoms started
- How long they last
- How severe are they
- Does depression or other mental issues run in the family
- If you have a history of alcoholism or drug abuse
After assessing your condition, the doctor might prescribe medication, recommend a therapy, or both.
Different types of antidepressants are available for treating the symptoms of depression, which include:
- Selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
- Atypical antidepressants
- Tricyclic antidepressants
A mental health specialist can teach you new ways of behaving and thinking. They can also guide you to change the habits that might contribute to depression. This therapy can help equip you with the skills required to cope with the negative feelings that lead up to the depression.
This procedure is especially helpful for people who have Seasonal affective disorder (now called major depressive disorder with seasonal pattern). In this therapy, exposure to white light doses can help people control their mood and reduce the symptoms of depression.
If these therapies are not something you want to go through, you can always ask your healthcare provider for alternative treatment options—several herbal supplements like st. John’s wort, fish oil, SAMe, etc. might also help with symptoms of depression. It is crucial to talk with a doctor to determine which substances you should take, as some supplements can cause adverse effects and make the symptoms even worse.
Exercising, in general, is beneficial for your overall health. Set a goal of doing physical exercise for 30 minutes 3 to 5 days a week. It can increase the production of endorphins in the body, which can significantly improve your mood.
In addition to the medication, therapies, and exercise, you can also do the following things to manage the symptoms of depression:
Changes in food and diet
Avoid eating processed or sugary foods, as they can lead to several health problems, which increase the chances of depression. Try incorporating these items in your diet:
- Olive oil
Avoid drugs and alcohol
Drug abuse and alcoholism can also be significant contributors to symptoms of depression. In the short term, these substances might lift your mood and reduce the feeling of sadness, but over an extended period, they will make the symptoms worse.
Learn to say no
Having an overwhelming feeling can worsen the symptoms of depression. It is crucial to set boundaries in personal and professional life; doing so can make you feel better.