Depression is a common and highly recognizable mental health disorder. This disorder can impact an individual’s ability to cope with everyday life. Many individuals who struggle with depression have difficulty handling regular daily activities and the symptoms can impact how they think, sleep, eat, work, and feel. This common mood disorder can be extremely disruptive if a person does not seek professional help. While many individuals may experience symptoms of depression, the symptoms have to be present for at least two weeks to be diagnosed with clinical depression.
Types of Depression
Dysthymia, which is also described as persistent depressive disorder, is a depressive episode that lasts for at least two years. These episodes of major depression can be exhaustive and include severe symptoms.
The most common depression amongst pregnant women is called postpartum depression. Many symptoms of postpartum depression decrease within a few weeks of childbirth, due to hormonal imbalance. However, postpartum depression is an extended length of depression in which patients experience extreme mood swings. These episodes are full blown symptoms of depression.
Psychotic depression develops within an individual who already struggles with severe depression. Psychotic depression is an added layer of symptoms that usually impact an individual’s sense of reality that can include delusions or hallucinations.
Seasonal affective disorder is characterized by the onset of depression during the winter months when there is less natural sunlight. This depression generally lifts during spring and summer. Winter depression, typically accompanied by social withdrawal, increased sleep, and weight gain, predictably returns every year in seasonal affective disorder.
Signs and Symptoms
- Lingering feelings of sadness or emptiness
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Loss of interest in things that once brought joy
- Restlessness or Insomnia
- Difficulty making decisions
- Appetite changes
- Suicidal thoughts or attempts
- Digestive issues
These symptoms will vary depending on the individual and what stage the depression is in. An individual experiencing any of these symptoms for an extended period should seek help.
Recent statistics list depression as one of the most common mental disorders in the United States. The risk factors of depression range from a mixture of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors. Depression is not age-specific, but often begins in adulthood. Depression can typically start off as anxiety in children.
Risk factors include:
- Family history of depression
- Major life changes
- Physical illnesses
Depression is treatable and even the most severe cases can experience relief and lead a normal life. Depression is typically treated with medications, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two. The most common form of medication is antidepressants.
If you or someone you know is experiencing depression symptoms, help is available. Please contact your doctor or mental health professional.