Depression can be long-lasting or recurrent, substantially impairing an individual’s ability to function at work or school or cope with daily life. At its most severe, depression can lead to suicide. When mild, people can be treated without medicines but when depression is moderate or severe they may need medication and professional talking treatments.
Depression is a disorder that can be reliably diagnosed and treated by non-specialists as part of primary health care. Specialist care is needed for a small proportion of individuals with complicated depression or those who do not respond to first-line treatments.
Types of depression
Some forms of depression are slightly different, or they may develop under unique circumstances, such as:
- Persistent depressive disorder (also called dysthymia) is a depressed mood that lasts for at least two years. A person diagnosed with persistent depressive disorder may have episodes of major depression along with periods of less severe symptoms, but symptoms must last for two years to be considered persistent depressive disorder.
- Perinatal depression is much more serious than the “baby blues” (relatively mild depressive and anxiety symptoms that typically clear within two weeks after delivery) that many women experience after giving birth. Women with perinatal depression experience full-blown major depression during pregnancy or after delivery (postpartum depression). The feelings of extreme sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion that accompany perinatal depression may make it difficult for these new mothers to complete daily care activities for themselves and/or for their babies.
- Psychotic depression occurs when a person has severe depression plus some form of psychosis, such as having disturbing false fixed beliefs (delusions) or hearing or seeing upsetting things that others cannot hear or see (hallucinations). The psychotic symptoms typically have a depressive “theme,” such as delusions of guilt, poverty, or illness.
- 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.
- Bipolar disorder is different from depression, but it is included in this list is because someone with bipolar disorder experiences episodes of extremely low moods that meet the criteria for major depression (called “bipolar depression”). But a person with bipolar disorder also experiences extreme high – euphoric or irritable – moods called “mania” or a less severe form called “hypomania.”
Symptoms of Depression
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, symptoms of depression may include the following:
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
- Fatigue and decreased energy
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness
- Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
- Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
- Irritability, restlessness
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
- Overeating or appetite loss
- Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
- Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
Treatment of Depression:
There are a variety of antidepressant medications and psycho therapies that are effective in treating illnesses. electroconvulsive treatment (ECT), and other somatic therapies. However, ECT is generally avoided, except in extreme circumstances, in favor of both psychotherapy and antidepressants. A medical psychiatrist can provide both psychotherapy services and prescribe antidepressants, which differ for each person based on individual needs.
If you find yourself experiencing any of the symptoms or relating in any way to major depression disorder, you should seek assistance from a medical professional. Thankfully, major depressive disorder has become much less stigmatized in recent years. There is plenty of in-depth information available about depression, and your chosen medical professional is often likely to go through it with you so you can choose the best treatment for your lifestyle.
You should feel as though you have options. You most likely will not have to be burdened by this disease and the negativity that often comes with symptoms of depression. Talking to a counselor and a medical professional is the first step to living a happier, more fulfilling life.