Living with Depression
It’s not uncommon to hear someone comment that they are “depressed.” And while indeed they may be, what they are often really referring to are feelings of “bleh” or vague sadness after a rough day or week. Those feelings are normal. Stressful events definitely take their toll; our increasingly busy schedules and the resulting lack of downtime are difficult on the psyche.
But a bad day isn’t depression. Depression lingers. It eats into the ability to enjoy everyday life, and it causes the person suffering to struggle with finding pleasure in moments that would, in other circumstances, be pleasant and happy. While it’s not uncommon to go through a brief period of depression after a traumatic event, such as the death of a loved one, these feelings usually lessen with time.
However, if feelings of sadness or emotional numbness persist for longer than a few weeks, the individual might have an underlying condition. If feelings of depression are causing problems personally, at school, or at work, consider talking with a depression therapist at Thriveworks Portage.
Causes of Depression
Depression is a complex set of disorders. There are many common symptoms and applicable reasons for why it occurs. Some people experience depression because of chronic physical or other medical conditions. Others may suffer depression after dealing with the loss of a loved one, a major life event like losing a job, or a traumatic event. Still others experience depression and feel overwhelmed with sadness and loneliness for no clear reason.
It’s also interesting to note that anxiety and depression often occur together, in which case therapy becomes even more valuable a tool.
There are a number of factors that contribute to depression, including the following:
Abuse – Past physical, sexual, or emotional abuse can increase the vulnerability to clinical depression later in life.
Chronic Health Concerns – Sometimes depression co-exists with a major illness or may be triggered by another medical condition.
Genetics – A family history of depression may increase the risk. It’s thought that depression is a complex trait, meaning that there are probably many different genes that each exert small effects, rather than a single gene that contributes to disease risk. However, depression in genetics is complex and no one genetic factor has been linked to depression.
Social Anxiety – Social isolation that occurs either due to anxiety or voluntary withdrawal due to other mental illnesses can contribute to the risk of developing clinical depression. Social anxiety can also occur after voluntary or involuntary withdrawal from a family or friend group.
Substance Abuse – Alcohol and drug abuse are often misunderstood. Sometimes the people surrounding the person abusing the substance may attribute a moral failing to the person—and sometimes, the person themselves may make a moral judgement about their addiction. It’s important to realize that in neither case is the judgement accurate. Many people with a history of substance abuse problems develop major or clinical depression or other undiagnosed mental health issues that cause them to seek an escape from dealing with reality.
Types of Depression
Common symptoms associated with all types of depression can include:
- loss or increased appetite
- weight fluctuations
- sleep changes
- loss of energy
- feelings of emotional numbness
- loss of interest in regular activities
Each diagnosis has different qualifications and factors that determine the more exact nature of the person’s depression. A few possible disorders include:
The specific symptoms that qualify major depression have changed over the years, but currently included symptoms are: prolonged moods of sadness and loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities, and can have other common depression symptoms. The symptoms are present consistently during most days and the diagnosis is usually only made when the symptoms last for at least two weeks. Symptoms of major depression can be detrimental to a person’s life, especially to relationships either personal or professional.
Bipolar disorder consists of periods of mania followed by periods of depression. The mania side of bipolar disorder is the opposite of depression and can vary in intensity. Symptoms include feeling great, having lots of energy, irritability, etc.. However, alongside periods of mania, bipolar also comes with depressive mood periods that come with the same possible symptoms of lethargy, sadness, and hopelessness associated with many other forms of depression. The experiences of mania and depression are not short-lived and can trigger without warning or explanation. Sometimes the person loses touch with reality in psychotic episodes. The exact symptoms vary from person to person.
Sometimes people with a depressive disorder can lose touch with reality and experience psychosis. This can involve hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t there) or delusions (false beliefs that aren’t shared by others), such as believing they are bad or evil, or that they’re being watched or followed. They can also be paranoid, feeling as though everyone is against them or that they are the cause of illness or bad events occurring around them.
How Therapy Can Help
Depression is painful to live with. But if you are suffering, you’re not alone, and therapy can help. There is no way to just “snap out” of a depression disorder or clinical depression any more than you can an iron deficiency or asthma. There are multiple treatments for handling depression that can with the right therapist, can improve your quality of life and help you work towards your own happiness.
We welcome patients to our new location, where they will meet with Starr Bull, a licensed professional counselor who specializes in several areas, including therapy for depression.