According to estimates from the World Health Organization, an estimated 5% of adults – 280 million people worldwide – suffer from some form of clinical depression. While this diagnosis is common, it is also serious. Depression is the primary risk factor for both suicide and self-harm. How does this diagnosis impact your life, and what can you do about it? In preparation for National Depression Screening Day, we’ll provide information about this mood disorder and its treatment.
What Is Clinical Depression?
Depression is, first and foremost, a condition of low mood. It usually comes along with anhedonia (loss of pleasure in favorite activities), apathy (an inability to care about what is happening around you), and hopelessness.
Depression can be brought on by a specific event, such as job loss or the death of a loved one. It can also be a product of neurochemistry – some people’s brains don’t produce enough of specific chemicals, resulting in a lasting feeling of sadness. In some instances, low mood can result from a poor diet or pre-existing condition (like a thyroid disorder).
This condition ranges in severity – the measure of depression is how much it interrupts your ability to operate in daily life. For example, some people continue to go to work and push through feelings of low-grade depression. Others are completely incapacitated by deep despair and find themselves unable to leave the house.
Types of Depression
There are many different forms of clinical depression. They include:
Major Depressive Disorder
Major depressive disorder is a low mood that impacts every area of your life. Those with this condition experience an extreme feeling of depression lasting for at least two weeks. Read below for a list of depression symptoms.
Postpartum depression is associated with the hormonal and emotional shifts associated with childbirth. While symptoms tend to dissipate within weeks of giving birth, ongoing postpartum depression may last for several months and requires clinical intervention.
Psychosis is the term for a person’s break from reality. Those who begin experiencing hallucinations and delusions in addition to depression may be suffering from psychotic depression.
Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dysthymia)
Persistent depression is a low mood lasting at least two years. Someone with this condition may also experience episodes of major depression in addition to their long-term symptoms.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
If you find yourself feeling low during the winter months, you’re not alone. Many people deal with seasonal affective disorder (abbreviated SAD). This state can be managed with specialty therapies, like vitamin D pills and UV light therapy.
Bipolar disorder is not the same thing as depression, but depressive symptoms are one aspect of this condition. Those with bipolar will experience months-long periods of depression in addition to cycles of mania (euphoria and irritability).
How Do I Know If I Have Depression?
Luckily, the symptoms of depression are well-known, and they are treatable. Below is a list of the common criteria for this condition. Those who are unsure whether their symptoms warrant clinical intervention should contact a professional for a depression screening.
If you find yourself experiencing any of the below, especially if you have a co-occurring substance use disorder, we encourage you to seek help.
Symptoms of Depression
- Persistent sadness and emptiness
- Inability to enjoy yourself (anhedonia)
- Fatigue and low energy
- Feelings of guilt and worthlessness
- Changes in appetite and sleep schedule
- Feelings of restlessness or exhaustion
- Thoughts of suicide or death
- Moving and speaking more slowly
- Aches and pains without a physical explanation
- Isolation from friends and family
- Cessation of normal hobbies and activities
- Random bouts of tearfulness
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
Clinical Depression Treatment Options
Depression is a serious condition with potentially life-threatening effects. Thankfully, there are a whole host of treatment options available to those experiencing persistent sadness and hopelessness. Remember that no two people experience depression in the same way; that means your treatment should not be one-size-fits-all. Centers like Augustine Recovery can help you to identify the best path to recovery.
Antidepressants are used to change the levels of specific chemicals in the brain. SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) and SNRIs (serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors) are the most commonly prescribed. If you’re unsure of where to start, try speaking to your family members about which medications have worked for them. This can be helpful information for your prescribing physician.
Medication alone isn’t sufficient for most people struggling with depression. That’s why we always recommend psychotherapy in conjunction with medicine. Counseling is a great way to identify the roots of negative thought patterns, break destructive cycles, and identify coping mechanisms for the future.
Finally, there are steps you can take to improve your symptoms. These lifestyle changes can supplement the work you do in therapy and enhance the effects of medications. Increasing your physical activity, setting achievable goals, eating healthfully, increasing your level of social interaction, and confiding in loved ones are all great ways to improve your mood.
Celebrating National Depression Screening Day
Every October, we celebrate National Depression Screening Day. This is an observance that seeks to help those in need to access the appropriate level of care. Augustine Recovery provides expert dual diagnosis services to those dealing with both depression and addiction. To learn more about our holistic approach to treatment, contact our admissions team.