What is Depression?

Depression is an illness involving the person’s body, thoughts, and mood. It’s a mood disorder that causes the person to persistently feel sad, numb, worthless, and other similar emotions. It causes people to lack motivation to complete everyday tasks and keeps people from doing things they enjoy. It is not the same as feeling sad and then having the feeling pass, and it’s not something that people can just pull themselves out of and feel better after a little while; it’s a condition that causes negative feelings and thoughts consistently, for a long period of time. It’s not a sign of weakness to be depressed. Rather, it actually shows how much strength everyone has when they are dealing with it because of how oppressive and overpowering this illness can feel. Depression is not a choice, just like how no other illness is a choice, but it is treatable and recovery is always possible.

Depression Subtypes:

Major Depressive Disorder – an person is in an extremely depressed mood for more than two weeks. This is the most commonly diagnosed type of depression. It affects all aspects of a person’s life, such as work, relationships, self esteem, and home life. It makes it hard to find the motivation to do much.

Dysthymia – a similar subtype to Major Depressive Disorder but one that occurs over a much longer period of time (more than 2 years). It is considered a chronic form of depression that is typically harder to treat. 

Adjustment Disorder – a depressive disorder that occurs when a person experiences stress or depression over a big and often unexpected change in his or her life 

Seasonal Affective Disorder – a form of depression that appears at certain times of the year. This varies from person to person; however, it is most common during the winter months when the days are shorter and there is little sunlight. 

Postpartum Depression – a form of depression experienced by some women after childbirth. It occurs predominantly because of the hormonal changes in the body that occur during and after carrying a child. In the first 24 hours after delivery, a woman’s hormone levels drop rapidly back to where they were before she became pregnant, which often leads to a period of depression, when she feels a constant fear for her child’s life. More than half of women suffering from postpartum depression will experience it again if they have another child. 

Who is affected?

Causes of Depression:

Depression can be caused by many things, but there are some more common factors. Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse can make someone more vulnerable to depression. A death or a loss of a friend or family member can increase the risk of depression because of the overwhelming grief and sadness brought on by it. Genetics can play a big role as well, as some people are predisposed to having depression because it runs in their families. A serious illness (physical or mental) or medical condition other than depression may trigger depression as well. Substance abuse is also a common factor in depression.

Signs and Symptoms:

Some symptoms to look out for are fatigue, having difficulty concentrating or making decisions, and feeling worthless and hopeless. People tend to lose interest in activities that previously gave them pleasure or enjoyment. People can experience mood swings, anxiety, sadness, guilt, or feeling excessive tiredness. Many people with depression have a hard time sleeping, where they either sleep too much or too little. Eating habits can also be affected, resulting in weight gain or weight loss. Thoughts of self harm or suicide can occur as well, which are both very serious matters and should be addressed immediately to keep the individual safe.

Treatment Options: