Actual clinical depression goes beyond just “feeling blue” or “being down.” Depression symptoms take many forms, and no two people’s experiences are exactly alike. Depression is one of the most common mental/emotional disorders in the United States. It’s believed that depression is or can be due to any combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors. It often begins in adulthood, and can occur in people of any age, gender, race, career, relationship status, socio-economic status.
Simply put, depression could be described as a person feeling sad and depressed for weeks or even months months on end. Everyone has a day or two of feeling low, or being in a “bad mood.” But depression is ongoing, and no matter what the external circumstances are, the depressed person is unable to pull out of this feeling. It’s often also accompanied by a sense of hopelessness, a lack of energy or “heaviness,”, and not being able to experience pleasure in the things that once brought the person enjoyment.
A person with depression may not even seem sad to those around them. They themselves often don’t even realize they’re depressed. They may be saying things like “I just can’t get motivated” or “I’m not in the mood.”Simple things like getting dressed, or eating meals may become large obstacles for them. Sometimes friends and family will notice notice that something has changed, and though they want to help, they just don’t know how.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, depression can actually affect children and adolescents, but instead of the symptoms such as sadness, hopelessness, or low mood,, it appears as elevated levels of anxiety, or a more prominent irritability. Many chronic mood and anxiety disorders in adults begin as high levels of anxiety in children.
How Do I Know if I’m Depressed?
If you have been experiencing some of the following signs and symptoms most of the day, nearly every day, for at least two weeks, you may be suffering from depression:
- Ongoing sadness, anxious, or “empty” mood
- Feelings of hopelessness, or extreme pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
- Less physical energy or fatigue
- Moving or talking more slowly
- Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Changes in sleeping habits: difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, oversleeping
- Change in appetite and/or weight changes
- Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
- Physical discomfort with no apparent physical cause
- Physical discomfort that is not relieved even with treatment
Certainly, not everyone showing a few of these symptoms is depressed, AND not everyone who is depressed will have all of these symptoms. Some have just a few while others may experience many. However, a person experiencing several of these symptoms regularly, as well as low mood really should be seen by a professional to determine if a diagnosis of depression is present. Even those with only a few symptoms may benefit from treatment for depression, to prevent their depression from worsening. The severity, duration and frequency of symptoms will vary depending on the individual as well as on the stage of the illness.
Risk Factors for Depression
Depression, especially in midlife or older adults, can co-occur with other serious medical illnesses, such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and Parkinson’s disease. These conditions are often worse when depression is present. Sometimes medications taken for these physical illnesses may cause side effects that contribute to depression. A doctor experienced in treating these complicated illnesses can help work out the best treatment strategy.
Risk factors include:
- Genetics – a personal or family history of depression
- Life events, even good ones such as the birth of a baby, or a new job
- Retirement, loss of job/income
- Traumatic event
- Death of a loved one
- Relationship issues or changes such as marriage or divorce
- Certain medical conditions and/or medications
- Substance Abuse
Can Depression Be Cured?
Sometimes depression occurs in response to a specific event in one’s life. But for some, depression is a condition that will be with them their entire life. Ongoing treatment/therapy is crucial, to help prevent relapses and to maintain ongoing mental/emotional wellness. The good news is that depression, even the most severe cases, can be treated. The earlier treatment begins, the more effective it is. It’s important to understand that no two people are affected the same way by depression and there is no “one-size-fits-all” treatment. It may take some trial and error to find the treatment or approach that works best for you. At Thriveworks Blacksburg depression counseling, our therapists are trained and experienced in treating depression. They’re understanding, patient, compassionate, and ready to work with you towards getting back to experiencing joy in your life. Call to schedule an appointment as soon as tomorrow – sometimes even today!
Call 540-376-3348 for Thriveworks Blacksburg depression counseling today.