Depression isn’t as simple as feeling sad or down for a few hours or days. There is an extreme difference between the two. You know what it’s like to feel sad. Everyone experiences periods when they feel a little down from time to time. Sadness is, unfortunately, a normal part
If you feel sad every day, though, and your mood has an impact on your quality of life, you might have depression. Depression is a serious disorder that influences your behavior and your outlook on the world. It affects many aspects of your life, from home to academics to employment, as well as relationships with family and close friends.
Thankfully, depression is treatable. There are two main causes of depression: major life events and chemical changes in the brain. Not every type can be cured but treatment can manage and relieve the effects of depression.
What Is Depression: A Definition
Depression is a mood disorder that affects your emotions, physical wellbeing, and overall outlook on your life and the world around you. The condition plays a serious role in how you think, feel, and are able to carry out simple daily activities.
Major depressive episodes are one of the most common mood disorders seen in the population. For example, about 7.2 percent of adults experienced a major depressive episode in 2018. 4.7 percent of adults experienced a depressive episode with severe impairment in their life activities.
Sadness is a characteristic symptom of depression but it isn’t the only symptom. People with depression often feel empty rather than just sad, and some have a hopeless view of their lives. This makes it difficult for many people with depression to carry out daily tasks like eating, sleeping, chores, or working.
Depression doesn’t look the same for everybody. The different types of depression lead to a variety of symptoms depending on the person. Each type shares commonalities, though, and should all be taken seriously and treated.
The Difference Between Depression and Sadness
Sadness is a part of the collective human experience. It normally goes away after a few hours or days, though. You’re able to bounce back within an appropriate timeframe and it has no lasting impact on your life.
Depression is different. The symptoms of depression are severe and often affect various aspects of your daily life. They also don’t go away as quickly as regular feelings of sadness do. You also must experience symptoms every day for a minimum of two weeks to receive a depression diagnosis.
Types of Depression
There are a few different types of depression ranging in severity that are caused by various factors. Some types of depression are a result of life events while others are caused by chemical changes in the brain. The following are a few of the main depression diagnoses.
Major depression is one of the two main forms of depression diagnoses. People with major depression experience their depression symptoms for most of the day, every day, for at least two weeks.
Their symptoms interfere with their basic abilities to sleep and eat, as well as their functioning at work or school. People with major depression also experience difficulties enjoying life during the period of their depressive episodes. Some experience only one episode of major depression in their lives but most people experience multiple episodes throughout their lives.
Persistent Depressive Disorder
Persistent depressive disorder, or dysthymia, is the other main type of depression. This type of depression refers to those whose symptoms last for an ongoing minimum of two years. They may experience periods between major depressive episodes where their symptoms are less severe. Still, persistent depressive disorder is a long-lasting form of depression.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Seasonal affective disorder, also called SAD, is a form of depression that comes and goes on a seasonal basis. People diagnosed with SAD experience the same symptoms of depression but only during certain times of the year. It typically affects people during the fall and winter months, especially in areas where it is dark for large parts of the day, then goes away during the spring and summer.
Perinatal or Postpartum Depression
Perinatal and postpartum depression are two forms of depression related to pregnancy. Women with perinatal depression experience symptoms of major depression while they are pregnant. Postpartum depression refers to symptoms experienced after delivery. The symptoms of perinatal and postpartum depression are often caused by the effects of extreme hormonal changes.
Psychotic depression is the presence of major depression symptoms accompanied by some type of psychosis. Psychosis refers to fixed and disturbing but false beliefs, or delusions, as well as seeing, hearing, feeling, or sensing things that are not there, or hallucinations. Psychotic depression is a serious condition because of the dangers caused by a person’s delusions and hallucinations.
Causes of Depression
There isn’t one single cause of depression, especially with the many different types of depression there are. Current research indicates that even in a single person there is often a combination of biological and environmental factors at play. A variety of circumstances may lead someone to develop depression over time.
In general, mood disorders typically run in the family. People who have a history of depression in their family are genetically predisposed to developing the condition. This doesn’t mean that everyone with a family history of mood disorders will develop depression, but there are higher chances that they will.
Traumatic events, both witnessed and personally experienced, can cause depression. Experiencing trauma during developmental years, especially abuse or neglect, puts someone at an even greater risk. Early traumas often result in long-term effects on the brain that carry over into adulthood.
Numerous medical conditions can cause someone to develop depression or exacerbate existing depression symptoms. These conditions include anxiety, sleep disturbances, chronic pain, or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Sudden and extreme life changes are another cause of depression. Changes in a relationship or marital status, financial changes, illness, or the death of a friend or family member are some examples.
Some medications lead to the development of depression as a possible side effect, especially medications taken for some of the conditions mentioned above.
Drug and Alcohol Abuse
Drug and alcohol abuse, especially long-term use and abuse, can lead to short-term or permanent changes in brain function. These changes include the possible development of conditions like depression that may or may not be reversible.
One of the biggest examples of sudden and unexpected life change is the worldwide experience with COVID-19, the novel coronavirus. The social distancing measures and widespread isolation caused by COVID-19 has caused many people to experience symptoms or develop a full-blown depressive condition.
Symptoms of Depression
Not everyone with depression experiences the same symptoms. Symptoms vary depending on the type of depression or the circumstances surrounding their condition. The following are some of the possible symptoms of depression.
Consistent Low Mood
Consistent low mood is one of the most characteristic symptoms of depression. People feel down or have a pervasive low mood and an overall lack of excitement. This isn’t as simple as feeling upset for a few minutes or hours; it’s an ongoing and sometimes progressive feeling.
Feelings of Hopelessness, Helplessness, or Worthlessness
Living with depression often feels too overwhelming and difficult to deal with which stresses people out. It breeds feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, or worthlessness are another characteristic symptom of depression.
Low energy levels are a sign of depression. The condition causes people to feel fatigued, exhausted, or depleted throughout the day. It makes getting out of bed or handling simple daily responsibilities feel like insurmountable tasks.
It’s frustrating when simple tasks are a struggle and that frustration shows itself as a short temper. The consistent low mood and feelings of hopelessness cause irritability in some people.
Loss of Interest in Activities
Losing interest in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed is a common sign of depression. Depleted energy levels leave vert little for things like these. The feelings of hopelessness often make it seem like they aren’t as important as they were before.
Difficulties Focusing or Remembering Things
Depression makes it challenging to focus on tasks. These might be at work, at school, or even things to do around the house. It’s also difficult to remember things such as names, events, or other commitments.
Sleeping problems are common for those with depression, both sleeping too much and sleeping too little. Some find they feel restless and unable to stay asleep for long periods. Others find they have trouble getting out of bed in the morning, preferring to sleep.
Suicidal Ideation or Planning
Suicidal ideation and sometimes developing a plan are the most severe symptom of depression. Anyone with ideation or a plan should be taken seriously and seek immediate medical attention to receive the help they need.
How is Depression Diagnosed?
There is a difference between feeling sad for a day or two and depression. To receive a diagnosis for depression, symptoms must be consistent and present for a minimum of two weeks. All forms of depression, from persistent depressive disorder to seasonal affective disorder, require at least two weeks of symptomatic behavior.
Although depression is seen in some children and adolescents, it usually starts in adulthood. Children and adolescents tend to show more signs of irritability than low mood, and they also show high levels of anxiety. But the main types of depressive disorders are usually noticed and diagnosed in adults.
Can Depression be Genetic?
Current research indicates that depression tends to run in families. Genetics often play a role in whether someone develops the condition. Not everyone with a genetic predisposition develops depression. Still, someone who has a family history of mood disorders has a greater risk of developing one at some point in their life as well.
Effects of Depression
Although depression is a mental disorder, it affects more than the mind. It isn’t only an overwhelming feeling of sadness. The effects of depression play a role in a person’s mood, focus, energy levels, motivation, and overall capacity to function.
They impact a person’s close relationships, their social life, their ability to make a living, even their ability to carry out basic tasks. Depression is so much more than a mental disorder. Oftentimes depression gets to the point where it affects every area of someone’s life.
What Depression Feels Like
The first thing that comes to mind for most people when they think of depression are the feelings of sadness and hopelessness. It’s true, these are characteristic symptoms of and feelings associated with depression. But depressive disorders run much deeper and expand much wider than can be described with a single word.
People with depression describe feeling empty on the inside. It isn’t only feeling down or thinking there isn’t much waiting in the future, but it’s an all-consuming hollow feeling in the present moment. It’s as though all their excitement for and engagement with life disappeared, all the things making them who they are left behind an empty shell.
This hollow, cavernous sensation tends to foster feelings of hopelessness for the future. Especially when someone has struggled with depression for a while and it hasn’t improved much. It’s easy to see how it could seem like life is going to stay that way forever. Life is challenging when you’re plagued by a sense of emptiness that you can’t shake.
Depression also affects sleep, causing people to either sleep too much or not enough. Couple the feeling of emptiness with insomnia and now they can’t shake the feelings during the day nor the night. You can understand why depression is such an exhausting condition to live with.
Effects on the Mind
Depression is a mental disorder that causes clear and detrimental effects on the mind. The endless feelings of emptiness often make it difficult for the mind to find a quiet place to rest. There isn’t a place to go for escape when the sensations you’re trying to run from primarily exist in your head.
When someone with depression also deals with insomnia as a side effect this only makes things worse. Sleep serves as a way to escape or take a break from the difficulties of life for many but insomnia takes this luxury away. It may feel like it’s impossible to escape the symptoms of depression which exacerbates other symptoms.
Those cavernous feelings that seem endless may lead to a preoccupation with self-harm, death, or suicidal ideation. This is one of the most dangerous effects of depression on the mind. Not everyone with depression experiences thoughts of death or suicide but those who do should always be taken seriously.
Depression’s effects on the mind aren’t something that a person can simply “get over” either. It isn’t something a person can shake off and move on with their day. In reality, it’s quite the opposite. The effects of depression on the mind tend to
dictate the entire pace of a person’s day.
Effects on the Body
The effects of depression are not only psychological but physical as well. They cause physical sensations and reactions throughout a person’s body. One of depression’s physical effects on the body is fatigue, an overall feeling of tiredness and lack of energy. Fatigue isn’t the same thing as feeling sleepy; fatigue is a state of complete physical and mental exhaustion.
Weight fluctuations are another effect of depression on the body. These shifts in weight are caused by the way depression leads to changes in appetite. Eating for comfort as a way to cope with the symptoms of depression is a common experience. Some people overeat while others experience loss of appetite. Plenty of people also shift back and forth.
Increased sensitivity to pain or chronic pain, in general, are also prevalent effects. Headaches, muscle aches, and a variety of other aches and pains are frequently seen in those with depression. Oftentimes medication has little to no effect on these pains.
Depression also causes people to lose interest in sex. Their lowered libido can be a result of either the depression itself, taking antidepressants, or both. It also decreases interest in many other activities that were once enjoyable, due to both the lack of energy and lack of overall excitement.
How Depression Affects Your Life
Plenty of people have days where they’re feeling sad and it carries over into their daily activities. Those feelings of sadness are fleeting and gone within a few hours or days, though. They’re able to return to normal soon after and there aren’t many lasting effects on their life.
When you have depression, though, it doesn’t simply go away. Symptoms last at least a minimum of two weeks but often persist for longer than that. The more time that you leave your condition untreated, the greater the impact. And the impact of your depression spreads out to more areas of your life than only you.
Depression tends to permeate every aspect of your daily life. Your symptoms can affect almost anything from your relationships to your employment and much more. It plays a role in your cognitive abilities which carries over into your performance and your productivity. What are some of the variety of ways that depression can affect your life?
How Depression Affects Relationships
Depressive disorders affect many more than just the person struggling with the condition. More often than not, depression affects relationships of all types, from family members and close friends to coworkers and casual acquaintances.
The sadness, hopelessness, and overall feelings of emptiness can make it a challenge to put effort into many relationships. Even the most basic of social interaction can be exhausting for some people. It’s difficult for friends and family to know how to support a loved one with depression when they don’t understand the condition.
Even if you spend the majority of your time alone, depression still affects your relationships. You might think that withdrawing from the people you care about keeps them from feeling the effects of your depression. Instead, isolating from your friends and family leaves them in the dark when all they want to do is help.
How Depression Affects Work
Depression often affects a person’s work, regardless of the type of job they have. Side effects of depression include difficulties concentrating and the inability to focus for an extended time. Limited attention tends to affect productivity which might lead to incomplete tasks or missed deadlines.
Anxiety and stress are a few more common side effects of depression that affect a person in the workplace. Part of being a team player at your job, no matter what kind of employment you have, includes working with others. You’ll have a much harder time working well with your coworkers if you constantly feel anxious or stressed out.
Your depression could lead to complications in your work life if you don’t do anything to address it. If you work in a job that provides benefits, speak with your Human Resources department to learn about your options. They may offer time off or other ways to address your disorder while keeping your job.
How Depression Affects School Performance
Those who attend school instead of working, or who are pursuing their education in addition to their employment, will notice depression affects school performance as well. Someone trying to do both simultaneously will notice an impact on their ability to perform well at either commitment.
The difficulties concentrating make it hard to absorb information in lectures or to complete long-form assignments. Stress, anxiety, fatigue, and problems with sleep also play a role in their capabilities at school.
Sometimes it’s helpful for people to take a leave from their education to work through their depressive disorder instead of trying to push
through. Allowing yourself time to focus completely on your mental health reduces stress and anxiety.
How Depression Affects Memory
Depression has a significant effect on cognitive abilities and memory. Your lack of focus on the present moment makes it difficult for you to recall things later on. This could be something as simple as what you had for dinner the night before or as serious as an important meeting or assignment.
These effects on your memory may cause you to forget to follow through on something you agreed to do. You might struggle with making decisions or recalling something that someone asked you to remember. Depression’s impact on your memory can be another source of stress and frustration.
Can Depression Cause Anger?
Both depression, as well as the difficulty of navigating life with some of its symptoms, can cause anger. It isn’t easy to live in a constant state of stress and tension. Feeling frustrated when depression affects things in your life that are important to you is common.
Oftentimes these small difficulties, coupled with symptoms of stress, anxiety, and irritability, add up over time and cause bursts of anger. It’s a good idea to seek help for your depression before the anger becomes habitual and causes more serious problems.
Depression Facts and Statistics
There are many misconceptions surrounding depression. Unless you have experience with depression, either personally or with a close loved one, it’s easy to believe some of the common myths. Learning more about depression is helpful, though, because it’s one of the most common mental disorders in the United States.
Some Depression Facts
The following depression facts will deepen your understanding of the condition. You never know whether it may affect you or someone you love at some point. These are some of the most common misconceptions about depression that people spread.
Depression is much more than feeling sad.
Everyone feels sad or down at some point but some believe that depression is the same thing as feeling sad or having a bad day. They don’t understand that depression is much more intense than ordinary sadness. It might start as a few bad days but if it persists longer than two weeks then it qualifies as clinical depression.
Depression is a pervasive condition that leaves people feeling empty and hopeless daily. It affects their entire outlook on the world around them and impacts nearly every aspect of their life. Their relationships and employment suffer, their appetite and sleeping patterns change, and they have a difficult time concentrating. Depression is far more than a bad day.
Depression is not a person’s fault.
Sometimes people with depression blame themselves for their condition. They might believe they are weak or crazy, that they shouldn’t feel
as down as they do. It’s difficult to live with a condition that persists regardless of how much they do to work through it.
Depression is not a person’s fault, though. It isn’t a character flaw or some lack of willpower that causes feelings of emptiness and hopelessness. Even if it seems like there’s no “good reason” to have depression, it doesn’t mean it’s the person’s fault.
People with depression can’t just “get over it.”
Sad people can usually snap out of their bad mood or function despite it. This isn’t the case for depression. Someone who struggles with depression can’t simply “get over it.” They may be able to act as if to help them get through the day but their feelings of sadness and emptiness go with them.
Sometimes depression has multiple causes.
Each person has a unique experience with depression. Some people have one specific reason they can point to while others have multiple causes for their condition. Common causes of depression include:
- Imbalances in brain chemistry
- Hormonal changes
- Seasonal changes
Conditions like Seasonal Affective Disorder are a result of seasonal changes while imbalances in brain chemistry lead to Persistent Depressive Disorder. Stress or trauma can trigger an otherwise dormant chemical imbalance and cause Major Depressive Disorder.
There are treatments for depression.
A depression diagnosis doesn’t have to be the end of the world. It isn’t an easy condition to live with but there are treatment options that have proven to relieve symptoms. There is no single way to treat depression. Combining a few methods that work for each individual’s situation is the most effective approach. Treatment methods for depression include:
Therapy is at the core of any effective depression treatment. Whether it’s individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy, or any combination of the three, it’s an important aspect of treating depression. Proven therapeutic methods used to help people with depression include:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Interpersonal therapy
- Supportive counseling
- Social skills therapy
- Problem-solving therapy
- Psychodynamic therapy
- Behavioral activation
Medication is another useful tool in a treatment program for depression. They are not a cure for the condition but they are effective in relieving
symptoms. It also allows for deeper work to be done during sessions when used alongside therapy. Some classes of medications used to treat individuals with depression include:
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs): Prozac, Zoloft, Celexa
- Norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs): Wellbutrin
- Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs): Effexor, Cymbalta
It can be difficult to make lifestyle adjustments without first seeking help with therapy and medication. After symptoms reach a more manageable point, it’s also helpful to include some changes in lifestyle when working through depression.
Making adjustments to your diet is a great place to start. This doesn’t mean going on a strict diet or counting calories, but it’s good to be mindful of foods you use to fuel your body. A diet that is full of processed foods, high in sugar, or includes significant amounts of caffeine or alcohol can negatively impact your mental health.
Exercise is a fantastic way to naturally boost your mood, reduce your anxiety, and help you handle stress. There are endless options for exercise so try different things until you find one you enjoy. You could walk, jog, swim, bike, or hop on an elliptical. Yoga, pilates, and tai chi are other excellent ways to get a workout in.
Depression in the US
The United States population is no stranger to depression. It affects millions of people every year and is one of the most common mental disorders throughout the country. Here are some quick depression statistics to give you a better idea of the disorder’s impact in 2017 alone:
- 17.3 million adults in the U.S. (7.1 percent of the population) had
at least one major depressive episode
- 11 million adults (4.5 percent of the population) had at least one major depressive episode with severe impairment
- 35 percent of adults with a major depressive episode did not receive treatment
Depression doesn’t affect adults alone. Adolescents struggle with
depression, too. Some statistics about depression in adolescents in 2017 include:
- 3.2 million adolescents ages 12 to 17 (13.3 percent of the population) had at least one major depressive episode
- 2.3 million adolescents (9.4 percent of the population) had at least one major depressive episode with severe impairment
- 60.1 percent of adolescents with a major depressive episode did not
What Age Group Has the Highest Rate of Depression?
There are dozens of studies that break down the rates of depression among various groups in the population. From age to gender to race, you can find statistical breakdowns outlining the impact of depression on all types of people.
Age is a significant factor to consider when looking at depression rates. Different age groups are at risk of developing depression for different reasons. For example, adolescents have to navigate coming of age in a fast-paced world. Adults have numerous pressures from all angles, such as work, school, and family.
Data shows that growing numbers of people struggle with the condition each year. In 2018, about 1 out of 7 of adolescents ages 12 to 17 had at least one major depressive episode. 4.6 million adults ages 18 to 25 and 8.0 million adults ages 26 to 49 experienced an MDE. Additionally, 5.1 million adults aged 50 and older had a major depressive episode last year.
Broken down by age group, this means:
- 14.4 percent of adolescents ages 12 to 17
- 13.8 percent of young adults ages 18 to 25
- 8 percent of adults ages 26 to 49
- 4.5 percent of adults ages 50 and older
Adolescents show the highest rates of depression, those between the ages of 12 and 17, out of all age groups. Among adults, young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 experience the highest rates of depression.
Who is the Most Depressed Group in America?
Again, the highest rates of depression by age are seen in adolescents aged 12 to 17. Then the 18 to 25 age range has the highest rates of depression among adults. When separated by gender, though, females experience depression at higher rates than males do.
8.7 percent of women between the ages of 18 and 25 experienced a major depressive episode in the last year. Comparatively, 5.3 percent of men in the same age range experienced at least one MDE.
There is an even more drastic difference among the adolescent population. 6.8 percent of male adolescents reported an MDE, not a small number on its own. On the other hand, 20 percent of their female counterparts reported a past-year depressive episode.
Race is another categorization when looking at depression rates. In both the adolescent and adult populations, individuals reporting 2 or more races have a higher prevalence of MDE. 16.9 percent of adolescents and 11.3 percent of adults reporting 2 or more races revealed they experienced a major depressive episode in the past year.
Ultimately, women and individuals reporting 2 or more races are some of the most depressed groups in the country.
What is the Number One Cause of Depression?
It’s difficult to point to one single cause as the number one cause of depression. Each person has their own particular story that led them to develop the condition. Research indicates that various combinations of genetic, biological, environmental, as well as psychological factors play a role.
Depression more commonly begins in adulthood. This is especially true among those who are middle-aged or older who have been diagnoses with other serious health conditions. Some medications taken for these illnesses are a cause of depression.
Ultimately, there is no particular cause of depression to point to. There are a variety of factors at play that determine whether someone will develop depression at some point. Some of those factors include:
- History of depression in the family
- Major life changes
- Physical illnesses
Celebrities and Depression
It’s tempting to believe that celebrities were dealt a better hand in life. With a seemingly endless supply of money, the ability to travel wherever they want, adoring fans around the world, and more, how could it not seem that way? What could celebrities possibly have to worry about in life?
Mental illness doesn’t discriminate, though, and celebrities are just as susceptible to depression as everyday individuals. Chemical imbalances and situational depression alike can affect anyone. Fame and money don’t make celebrities immune to developing depression.
Does Fame Cause Depression?
It can’t be easy to spend all your time in the spotlight. Celebrities can’t only be at their best while attending premieres, red carpet events, and awards shows. There’s constant pressure to be on their A-game at all times when they can’t go anywhere without someone recognizing them.
Being famous comes with an incredible amount of stress. It’s exhausting to feel like people are watching your every move. The progression of social media and “cancel culture” places more strain on these individuals simply trying to live their lives.
It’s difficult to be authentic when your entire existence is under near-constant scrutiny. A lack of authenticity results in a misalignment between your internal truth and the mask you wear in the world. The disconnect between your “stage self” and your true self can lead to depression, anxiety, addiction, and more.
Celebrities and other famous people are all too familiar with this. Many people struggle to live authentically without the added pressure of the world watching them their lives. The pressure that comes with being a public persona can cause individuals to develop depression.
Celebrities who Suffer from Depression
Dozens of celebrities have come forward about their struggles with depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and more throughout the years. Their candid honesty raises the public’s awareness of the importance of mental health issues. Sharing their stories also provides others the strength and courage to share their problems.
Some celebrities are more outspoken about their paths through the maze of mental illness. Their stories help the push to destigmatize people talking about and prioritizing their mental health and wellbeing The following celebrities have openly shared their difficulties with depression.
Demi Lovato has been one of the most candid about her struggles with her depression, bipolar disorder, addiction, eating disorder, and self-harm. She had a self-described nervous breakdown in 2010 under the public eye and entered a treatment facility for the first time. Since then, she’s shared her story in hopes that others will shed shame and seek help.
Jim Carrey is one of the most well-known comedians alive, guaranteed to be one that can make you smile or laugh when needed. During an interview with 60 Minutes, though, Carrey came forward about the depression he’s dealt with throughout his life. His confession shocked the world and brought awareness to the internal battles celebrities fight behind the scenes.
Carrie Fisher was upfront about her dealings with depression, bipolar disorder, and addiction. She was an outspoken advocate for mental health throughout her life, both in interviews and in her books. Even after her passing in December of 2016, Fisher continues to be a source of inspiration and strength for people around the world.
Matthew Perry is another celebrity who kept people laughing while onscreen in Friends but described those years as some of the loneliest and worst in his life. Perry fought with depression that led him to drugs and alcohol. He cycled through active addiction and rehab before finally finding and maintaining recovery with the help of his costars and loved ones.
Kristin Bell is not the first in her family to deal with depression and anxiety; both her mother and grandmother struggled with natural serotonin imbalances as well. She explains there is no shame in asking for help or incorporating medication as a part of mental health treatment. Medication for mental health, she explains, is as important as insulin for diabetics.
Owen Wilson is yet another renowned comedian using laughter to hide his internal struggles. To the public’s surprise and horror, Wilson attempted suicide at his home in Santa Monica in 2007. He opened up about his battle with depression in the months following the attempt. Since then, Wilson slowed his career down to keep himself centered and grounded.
Depression and Anxiety
Depression and anxiety are two separate conditions that are commonly associated with one another. There is a high rate of comorbidity between the two and they often have similar symptoms that people confuse. But not everyone who has depression also has anxiety, and not everyone who has anxiety also has depression.
There are three ways people experience depression and anxiety:
- Individually: A person experiences one disorder or
the other, but not both
- Sequentially: One disorder occurs in reaction to the other, ex. depression occurring in reaction to anxiety
- Comorbidity: A person simultaneously experiences symptoms of both depression and anxiety that reach the qualification threshold for a clinical diagnosis.
Both depression and anxiety have unique causes as well as their own behavioral and emotional symptoms. It can be different to tell the difference between overlapping symptoms if you aren’t familiar with each disorder. Clinicians can separate
the two and provide the necessary types of treatment.
Are Depression and Anxiety the Same Thing?
There is a lot of crossover between the symptoms of each condition but depression and anxiety are not the same things. Depression includes several depressive disorders and anxiety includes numerous anxiety-related disorders. There is some crossover between the symptoms of both conditions but they are not the same.
Symptoms of anxiety can typically be grouped under the umbrella of heightened arousal. They include extreme agitation or racing thoughts that make it difficult to focus, fall asleep, or stay asleep, carry out tasks, and more.
Depressive symptoms have more to do with an overall low mood and effects that result from it. Some symptoms of depression include difficulty concentrating, lack of energy, loss of appetite, extreme changes in sleeping patterns, and more.
Current research doesn’t suggest that one condition directly causes the other. Having one condition increases the risk of developing comorbidity with the other condition. For example, many people who have a depressive disorder also have a history of anxiety earlier in their lives.
Many people live with only one disorder or the other, though. They might notice some symptoms that line up with the other condition, such as feeling lonely when isolating due to extreme anxiety. But they may never experience severe enough symptoms to warrant a true diagnosis of the second disorder.
Are Depression and Anxiety Related?
Although depression and anxiety are not the same things, the two are very much related. They share a similar biological basis because low serotonin levels are believed to play a role in both disorders. Both people with depression and people with anxiety also tend to have lower levels of other chemicals in the brain like dopamine and epinephrine.
People with depression may feel some anxiety as a result of their disorder. They fear that their depressive episodes will never end and that things will feel pointless forever. This makes it difficult to go out and socialize with others which might seem like symptoms of anxiety.
Individuals struggling with anxiety tend to avoid situations that heighten their symptoms. This might look like avoiding friends and family or social gatherings to keep their anxiety at bay. The isolation that their anxiety causes, though, may result in feelings of loneliness and depression.
Since anxiety and depression have similar biological causes displayed in different ways, it helps to look at them as two different sides of the same coin. They’re based in the same roots but manifest in different physical and emotional symptoms.
Depression and Alcohol Abuse
It’s difficult living with symptoms of depression, especially for months or years. Unfortunately, many people turn to self-medicating their symptoms with alcohol. It might seem like a helpful solution now and then. After all, millions of Americans have an occasional drink to calm their nerves.
That’s not the case for people with clinical depression diagnoses, though. There is a complicated relationship between alcohol and depression. Having a few drinks might feel like it provides a moment of relief. Alcohol is a depressant, though, so even if it offers temporary relief it only makes symptoms worse over time.
That doesn’t keep people from abusing alcohol when they have depression, though. People with a mental illness are more likely to struggle with an alcohol use disorder than those without one. 32.7% of people with a serious mental illness binge drank in the past month compared to 24.5% of people without mental illness.
Alcohol and mental illness are a dangerous combination. It lowers inhibitions, affects decision-making skills, and inhibits people from considering long-term consequences. These effects can lead people with thoughts of self-harm or even suicidal ideation to act on them while under the influence.
Depression and Drug Addiction
People with depression are also more likely to struggle with substance use disorder. They turn to many different kinds of drugs for relief from their depression symptoms. Some simply misuse their prescription medication. Others turn to harder substances for relief from their symptoms of depression.
It doesn’t matter which drugs they use, though. Like alcohol abuse, depression and drug addiction are an unsafe combination too. Even people who use misuse medications they have a prescription for are putting themselves at a greater risk.
Dual diagnosis describes someone who has both depression and drug addiction or alcoholism. Each condition is difficult to manage on its own. Managing mental illness and substance use disorder at the same time is even more difficult.
It might seem like getting high relieves symptoms of depression but it only worsens the condition. As their depression gets worse, some people use more substances to achieve relief. It creates a vicious cycle of symptoms and drug use that a specialized dual diagnosis addiction treatment facility can help with.
Can Depression Be Cured?
Not all forms of depression are lifelong conditions. With proper intervention from a comprehensive treatment plan, some types of depression can be cured. Situational depression and seasonal depression are two examples of short-term conditions. If a person experiences either type they can seek help and work through their symptoms.
People with ongoing, long-term cases of depression are somewhat different. They may not be able to cure their depression but they can still find relief from symptoms with proper treatment. Depression is a difficult diagnosis to live with but it doesn’t have to dictate a person’s life. Asking for help is the first step toward learning to manage symptoms and live life again.
How To Treat Depression
There are a few different ways to treat depression. Using a single approach to treating depression is not an effective way to work with people, though. Everyone responds to treatment in their own way and needs an individualized plan to get the best results.
The three main aspects of depression treatment are individual therapy, group therapy, and antidepressant medications. Medications are not an effective form of treatment on their own. They function best when combined with a therapeutic approach. Within therapy, there are multiple modalities that a therapist can use depending on their needs.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is the most common method for working with people with depression. Dialectical behavior therapy is helpful for those who have a dual diagnosis. EMDR therapy (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) is the best form of therapy for people struggling with trauma.
Alternative therapy methods like experiential therapy are excellent additions to a depression treatment program. Animal-assisted therapy, holistic health services, and more can also be beneficial depending on the individual.
Where To Get Help For Depression
Help for depression is widely available. There are both outpatient and inpatient options for treating depression depending on the severity of the condition. Outpatient options are available almost everywhere from a licensed clinical therapist. Most people receive help on an outpatient basis by seeing a therapist weekly and a psychiatrist if medication is necessary.
When symptoms of depression are severe, though, sometimes inpatient treatment is necessary. Inpatient treatment for depression helps those who are a danger to themselves or others. It provides them with the supervision, structure, and intensive care needed to bring them to a stable state.
After completing an inpatient treatment program, people then transition to ongoing outpatient care. They’re able to address their main struggles during inpatient and then work through additional troubles once they’re in a safer place mentally.