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Medically Reviewed By: Aaron Horn, LMFT, MA
What is Depression?
Depression is a severe mood disorder that affects over 16 million people in The United States. Some common side effects of depression are difficulties functioning, maintaining social relationships and loss of interest in normal daily activities. Depression, major depressive disorder, and other related mental disorders impact a person’s ability to participate in day-to-day activities such as eating, sleeping, or going to work.
For a person to have depression, a major depressive disorder, or related diagnosis, they must exhibit signs depression symptoms for at least two weeks. There are several forms of depression and they are distinguished by their symptoms. Before you seek treatment, it’s important to recognize the signs of depression.
Signs of Depression
The following are some common symptoms of depression:
- A consistent feeling of sadness and low mood
- A sense of hopelessness
- Persistent guilt or feelings of worthlessness
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Decreased or increased appetite
- Lack of pleasure in activities a person once enjoyed
- Moving or speaking slowly
- Thoughts of suicide or an active plan to end one’s life
If you’re experiencing any thoughts of harming yourself, don’t wait to get help. Visit the nearest emergency room or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
If you exhibit the symptoms of depression on the above list for two weeks or more, you could be suffering from depression. It’s crucial to seek the help of a mental health professional so you can get treatment. Depression is treatable with the right care, and a therapist can support you to get the help you need and start feeling better. They can help you learn about how depression affects your body and mind, and find ways to cope with your mental health condition. When you know how to deal with depression, it’s possible to live a great life.
A mental health professional can help you diagnose what type of depression you have. It’s important to report your exact symptoms to your provider so they can make an accurate diagnosis. Withholding information could prolong your suffering, and make it harder for them to help. Be honest about what you’re experiencing so your therapist or doctor can make an accurate diagnosis and give you the best treatment options.
If you’re ever experiencing suicidal thoughts related to severe depression, get help immediately! Visit your nearest emergency room or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) to speak with a specialist 24-hours a day. The following is a list of depression, major depressive disorder, and mental health topics related to this chronic illness.
Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) - Is a long-term and debilitating form of depression where people experience persistent feelings of loss of interest and can have trouble participating in normal daily life. MDD is also referred to as Clinical Depression by some licensed professionals.
Bipolar Disorder (BPD) - Bipolar Disorder is also a long-term form of depression that was formerly known as “manic depressive disorder.” People experiencing BPD have intense mood swings that vacillate back and forth between extremely high, to extremely low.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)- A form of temporary depression where loss of interest in activities and socializing occurs. It can affect both older adults and young people. The distinguishing trait is that it occurs at specific times of the year. This is normally related to seasonal changes - like when people experience feeling lonely or anxious around the holidays.
Postpartum Depression - Postpartum Depression is a temporary form of depression that occurs in women who have recently given birth. Research shows that new fathers can experience postpartum depression too (for similar reasons, such as exhaustion due to lack of sleep, complex new emotions from parenthood, etc.). Symptoms of postpartum depression include - loss of interest in everyday activities, suicidal thoughts, and trouble making decisions or thinking clearly.
Psychotic Depression - Psychotic Depression is a form of major depressive disorder or MDD that is aggravated by the presence of one or more psychotic symptoms. These symptoms include hallucinations, hearing voices, or any other serious break from reality.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) - PTSD is an aggravated form of mental illness that can present itself individually or in conjunction with other mental problems like depression. Experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event can leave an imprint on the brain and cause PTSD. PTSD is related to people experiencing high-levels of anxiety long after the triggering event has passed.
Where to get help for Depression
All forms of major depression, major depressive disorder, and related mental health problems require mental health services management and treatment to heal. Talk to your doctor if you’ve experienced a combination of any of these symptoms for longer than a few weeks. If you don’t have a regular doctor, reach out to your local department of health for mental health information including resources and referrals. Your local health department can provide you with health care related information and services for managing substance abuse and mental health issues.
American Psychiatric Association (APA) - is an American-based health and human services organization. The APA provides resources and treatments for people who experience depression and suffer from other common mental disorders. The APA provides solutions and referrals for integrative health, brain stimulation therapies, disease control, and prevention mental health related medical conditions.
Get the latest information on the newest clinical trials and treatments for managing anxiety and depression by visiting the APA’s website.
- Women’s health
- How to manage depressive episodes
- Coping strategies for people with depression
- Living with atypical depression
- Food and Drug Administration Statistics
- Dealing with depression in men
Mental Health America (MHA) - Another prominent health and human services organization that specializes in providing information, support, and resources for mental health related conditions. MHA also operates a crisis line for people who are experiencing the following.
- Issues with drug abuse
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Strategies for dealing with treatment resistant depression
- Sleep disturbances and related sleep problems
- How to prevent depression
- Dealing with the loss of a loved one
- Managing depression in children
Centers for Disease Control - Learn what effects Integrative health have had on treating depression including new medications, treatments, and advances taken to prevent depression in relation to the experience of stressful events.
Department of Health and Mental Health - Your local public health care resources can assist people suffering from depression by making referrals for human services, mental health care services, and finding healthy living resources. A public mental health professional can assist patients with finding treatments providers for cognitive behavioral therapy and brain stimulation therapy.
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health - Provides information and referral on non-mainstream practices for curing depression. Non-main stream treatments for depression include managing loss of interest in older adults, brain stimulation therapies, and herbal medication management to promote healthy living.
BetterHelp.com 100% Online Counseling Services - When people experience worthlessness or guilt related to alcohol or drug abuse, this could make depression worse. The licensed professionals at Betterhelp.com help clients to mitigate the mental aches and pains associated with depression and to diminish the symptoms of depression including feelings of worthlessness.
All of the above reference sites have a built-in services locator that helps clients find treatment for depression including cornerstone content that point clients to important services, administration resources, and social media contacts. Visiting mental health websites can provide help for people experiencing depression with new insights and healthy living strategies to cope with depression.
Did you know that you’re more likely to develop depression symptoms if a close family member already has depression? Risk factors for developing depression include a family history of depression, especially if a close family member has been suffering from major depression. Find out how your family history can affect your response to brain stimulation therapy and learn healthy living strategies for managing depression by using one of these reliable resources.
Dysthymia or Persistent Depressive Disorder
Dysthymia, otherwise known as Persistent Depressive Disorder, characterizes a person who has a depressed mood for at least two years. An individual who has Dysthymia may have a period of mild depression followed by an episode of major depression. People who have Persistent Depressive Disorder can get through the day, but it’s not easy.
They struggle to cope with their emotions, and it hurts them to face their pain; however, they can manage their symptoms if they know what they are. The key to getting the right diagnosis is noticing that the symptoms have lasted over two years. Once that determination has been made, it’s possible that the individual has Dysthymia.
Depression and Isolation
A tricky part of depression is that the person experiencing it tends to isolate from their loved ones. If you’re depressed, you may not want to see people that you care about because you’re not feeling well emotionally. That is why it’s imperative to seek treatment.
People who are suffering from depression need to get help. If left untreated, it can lead to severe consequences, including suicide. There is hope if the individual receives treatment, and one of the best forms of treatment is seeing a therapist or counselor.
Depression Symptoms and Signs
Promote suicide prevention by knowing the warning signs and symptoms of depression, major depressive disorder, postpartum depression, and anxiety. According to the National Institute of Mental Health the following are common signs and symptoms of depressive disorders.
- Unexplained weight gain
- Extreme weight loss
- Chronic pain
- Feelings of sadness
Feeling sad, a previous history of depression, and anxiety often go hand in hand. Untreated depression and anxiety can result in aggravated medical issues like heart disease. Older adults need to take special care to get immediate treatment for depression to avoid aggravating heart disease related conditions.
The most obvious outward sign of depression is the loss of interest in daily activities that have previously been a normal part of your everyday life. For example, a person experiencing depression major depressive disorder or postpartum depression may have unexplained weight gain when they were previously focused on healthy living and weight consciousness.
***Important Note: If you are struggling with bouts of depression and have thoughts of death or suicidal thoughts - reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 immediately to speak with a counselor 24-hours a day.
Counseling Helps Depression
One of the most effective types of treatment for depression is counseling. Talking to a therapist about your feelings is invaluable. You will be able to express what you are struggling with and get the treatment you need. Depression can feel incredibly overwhelming, weighing you down, but a counselor is trained to recognize the symptoms and help you work through them. They will teach you coping skills, and you will learn to manage depression without feeling hopeless.
One of the hardest things about getting help when you are depressed is believing you can get better. When you work with a counselor, they will show you that there is hope, and you can heal.
One form of therapy that can help you with your mental health issues is online counseling. If you’ve come to the realization that you or someone you know is dealing with depression, and you'd like assistance from a licensed therapist; we would love to help. With more than 8,000 licensed counselors interested in and able to help with the treatment, signs, and symptoms of depression, our team of therapists can be of assistance today.
Our online platform here at BetterHelp.com is designed to provide the (more than) one million people that have benefited from our services with the professional help they need online at a time that is convenient for them.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)
What is the number one cause of depression?
According to health information by the National Institute of Mental Health (nimh.nih.gov/health), depression has multiple causes instead of just one. Genetics, medications, stress, medical problems, thyroid problems, and certain chemicals in the brain may contribute to the development of symptoms. Anxiety disorders may also play a role in depression.
What is a simple definition of depression?
According to health information by the National Institute of Health (nih.gov/health) and the American Psychiatric Association, depressive major depressive disorder or depression is a mood disorder that affects how you feel, think, and act. It affects the body in different ways, including symptoms of feeling sadness and loss of interest in activities, difficulty sleeping, thinking, concentrating, and feelings of hopelessness. Poor lifestyle habits may also play a role in depression.
What country has the highest rate of depression?
Health information analyzed by researchers says China has the most cases of depressive major depressive disorder. The United States is third behind India with the highest claims.
What are the levels of depression?
According to health information at nimh.nih.gov/health, there are types of depression that vary in symptoms, including depressive major depressive disorder, persistent depressive disorder, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), postpartum depression, situational depression, and premenstrual dysphoric depression (PMDD). Sometimes symptoms of depression, bipolar disorder are similar, except high and low mood is common with disorder bipolar. Symptoms vary for each type with detailed classifications available in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, a publication by the American Psychiatric Association. The manual of mental info is created and used by health professionals specializing in mental health. The Statistical Manual of Mental edition provides an in-depth assessment of various types of mental disorders for people training and specializing in the mental health field. Although the Statistical Manual of Mental contents was created for health experts, the Manual of Mental materials uses everyday language to help anyone learn more about mental illnesses.
You can also learn more about the effects of depression and related health topics through published studies available at nih.gov/health.
How do depressions start?
The depressive major depressive disorder has different causes such as a serious illness, unknown medical condition, conflicts with others, medication side effects, brain chemical changes, genetics, abuse, unexpected change or loss, poor habits, and stress.
Effective treatment options include brain stimulation therapies, administration FDA-approved medications, and self-help techniques. Brain stimulation therapies help with problem-solving and understanding what influences mood behaviors. Brain stimulation therapies include talk therapy options, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).
Medications approved by the FDA, such as reuptake inhibitors and selective serotonin classifications, are formulated to help regulate mood. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are most prescribed for depression with fewer side effects. A different classification of reuptake inhibitors may include mild, short-term side effects such as an increase in blood pressure.
Many therapies and medication options are evidence-based and backed by clinical studies to understand effectiveness. Self-help treatment options are commonly used with therapy and medication to achieve the best results. Some use supplements such as fish oil to boost their mood naturally. Some studies show evidence that fish oil may improve brain function to help mild or moderate symptoms.
Who is at higher risk of depression?
Health information through ongoing studies suggests different groups of people are at high risk. People with brain chemistry variations, a family history of depressive disorders, people with chronic pain or illness, or hormonal changes may have a higher risk. People who experienced a traumatic event such as abuse, neglect, or family dysfunction (incarcerated parent, domestic violence, substance use, divorce, etc.) or an environment such as poverty may have a higher risk of depression.
People considered high risk might benefit from brain stimulation therapies, including therapy (CBT), to improve thought patterns and learn positive ways to understand life events. FDA-approved depression meds such as reuptake inhibitors SSRIs are also useful.
Which race is the most depressed?
Most minority groups have people with depression, but studies show Hispanics followed by African Americans, have higher rates of depressed individuals. Some studies suggest Whites may experience severe depression more than other races, while Blacks and Hispanics are likely to suffer mild depression long-term.
What gender is more likely to have depression?
Depression in women is more likely than in men. Studies related to depression health topics available through nih.gov/health show it is more common in women than men due to hormonal changes, differences in socialization and social roles, and how to cope. Studies also suggest women are more likely to experience stressful events triggering symptoms. Women could be diagnosed with depression differently than men based on symptoms. Men could also be underdiagnosed because they view their symptoms as stress instead of sadness.
Which age group has the highest rate of depression?
Depression is a mood disorder that affects different age groups. Most often suffered by adults, depression is also a concern for children adolescents, teens, and seniors. The age group with the highest rate of depression is between ages 45 to 65 or middle-age adults. People who are very young and very old are at risk for major depression. Research has shown people between the ages of 12 and 25 are at risk for depression, with a considerable increase in recent years among children adolescents. Brain stimulation therapies and depression medications such as reuptake inhibitors are standard options to help young people cope with their symptoms.