Depression symptoms can be an overwhelming and isolating experience, especially for the person’s loved ones.…
All You Need to Know About Depression
Last Updated on
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 of life.
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.
Continue reading to learn more about different types of depression, their causes and impacts, how to find treatment, and more!
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.
Types of Depressopm | Infographic
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder | Everything You Need To Know
If you’ve ever experienced a traumatic event, you understand the troubling feelings that follow. You might have invasive memories or flashbacks to the event, general anxiety, or difficulties sleeping.
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.
Everything About Prescription Opioids | Hawaii Island Recovery
You have likely heard about them to some extent but what exactly are prescription opioids? How are they made and how do they affect the people who use them?
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.