Articles on Depression
Depression is a mood disorder that effects millions of people around the world. Fortunately, depression has been studied for decades and there is a wealth of information available for people who have depressive symptoms. Many treatments for depression are highly effective and can provide relief in just a few weeks. The articles below have been published to both help people that have the condition, as well as those that want to help someone else. If you or someone you know is dealing with depression, or you would like to speak to someone about this subject, feel free to contact us to see how one of our counselors can be of assistance.
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Medically reviewed by Julie A. Dodson, MA, LCSW
What Is Depression?
Depression is a severe mood disorder that affects at least 21 million people in the United States. Some common symptoms of depression include difficulties functioning, maintaining social relationships, and loss of interest in normal daily activities. Depression, major depressive disorder, and other related mental disorders can impact a person’s ability to participate in day-to-day activities such as eating, sleeping, or going to work.
Depression is a serious mental health condition that typically requires treatment by a medical professional. For a person to be diagnosed with a major depressive disorder (or a related diagnosis), they must exhibit signs of depression symptoms for at least two weeks. There are several forms of depression that are distinguished by their symptoms. Recognizing these signs and symptoms can be an important first step in getting the help you need.
Depression Symptoms And Signs
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 major depressive disorder or perinatal depression may have unexplained weight gain when they were previously focused on healthy living and weight consciousness. Other signs and symptoms include the following:
- 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 once enjoyed
- Moving or speaking slowly
- Thoughts of suicide or an active plan to end one’s life
*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.
If you exhibit the symptoms of depression on the above list for two weeks or more, you may be managing a depressive disorder. Seeking the help of a medical health professional is crucial in the development of a treatment plan that works for you. Depression is treatable with the right care, and a therapist can support you to get the help you need. They can guide you in learning about how depression affects your body and mind while suggesting strategies that can help you cope with your mental health condition.
A mental health professional is trained to diagnose the specific type of depression you may have. It is important to be completely open about your symptoms with your provider so they can make an accurate diagnosis. While it does take courage, being honest about what you are experiencing to your therapist or doctor contributes to a prompt diagnosis and gives you the best treatment options.
The following list covers examples of some types of depression and related mental health topics related to this mood disorder.
Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)
Major depression, also known as major depressive disorder (MDD), is the most common type of depression. People with major depression experience consistently low moods, fluctuation in weight and eating habits, difficulty sleeping, low energy, irritability, and/or feelings of extreme sadness and hopelessness. A depressive episode can be caused by a traumatic experience or a stressful life event, but it does not have to be. Major depression can also be caused by a combination of brain chemicals and genetic makeup.
Bipolar Disorder (BPD)
Bipolar disorder, previously known as manic depression, is characterized by extreme mood swings from manic highs to depressive lows. These mood swings can occur on rare occasions or frequently, and the shift between mania and depression is unpredictable. According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of manic episodes include being abnormally upbeat, wired or jumpy, increased energy, euphoria (an exaggerated sense of well-being and self-confidence), decreased need for sleep, unusual talkativeness, racing thoughts, distractibility, and poor decision-making.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Seasonal affective disorder causes recurring episodes of depression at similar times every year. Seasonal depression is most common in climates with limited sunlight in certain months of the year and in locations where sunlight is regularly absent due to cloudiness or a more northern location. Symptoms of SAD include irritability, feelings of sadness or anxiety, lack of concentration, no longer interested in typically enjoyable activities, and an increased need for sleep.
Perinatal depression includes all forms of prenatal depression and postpartum depression. According to the National Institutes of Health, perinatal depression can occur during pregnancy, around childbirth, or within the first year postpartum. Symptoms of perinatal depression are similar to major depressive disorder. Specific symptoms of perinatal depression include difficulty feeling attached to the baby in development or after birth (also called postpartum depression, or PPD).
Major Depression With Psychosis
This form of major depressive disorder is aggravated by the presence of one or more psychotic symptoms, or losses from reality. These symptoms include hallucinations, hearing voices, or any other serious break from reality. A person experiencing psychosis may also experience delusions – false beliefs about oneself or what is taking place.
Dysthymia Or Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD)
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. These episodes can vary in severity. Some may experience an episode of MDD during dysthymia, which is referred to as double depression. Symptoms include low self-esteem, trouble making decisions, consistent guilt over past actions or events, decreased activity over an extended period, avoiding social interaction, and excessive anger.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD is a trauma-based disorder that can present itself individually or in conjunction with other mental health conditions like depression. Experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event can leave an imprint on the brain and cause PTSD. People managing PTSD may experience high levels of anxiety among other symptoms long after the triggering event has passed.
Where To Get Help For Depression
All forms of depressive disorders and related mental health problems require mental health services management and treatment to recover. Speak with your doctor if you have experienced a combination of any of these symptoms for longer than a few weeks. If you do not 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 misuse and mental health issues. You can also consult the following organizations for resources:
American Psychiatric Association (APA)
This health and human services organization is based in the United States. The APA provides resources and treatments for people who experience depression and other common mental disorders. The organization also 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.
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 misuse
- 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 And Prevention (CDC)
The CDC offers numerous resources to increase your knowledge about depressive disorders. These include learning the positive impacts of integrative health for the treatment of depression including new medications, treatments, and advances taken to prevent depression in relation to the experience of stressful events.
Department Of Health And Human Services (HHS)
Your local public health care resources can assist people living with 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.
National Center For Complementary And Integrative Health (NCCIH)
The NCCIH provides information and referral on non-mainstream practices for curing depression. Non-mainstream treatments for depression include managing loss of interest for older adults, brain stimulation therapies, and herbal medication management to promote healthy living.
Many 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 healthily manage living with depression.
Depression And Isolation
A tricky part of depression is that the person experiencing it tends to isolate from their loved ones. If you are depressed, you may not want to see people that you care about because you are not feeling well emotionally or simply do not want to socialize. However, social support is a necessary and healthy component of our human existence that has been shown in research to protect against depressive symptoms.
People who are living with depression should consider getting 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.
*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.
Mental Health Therapy Helps Depression
One of the most effective types of treatment for depression is mental health therapy. 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, but a counselor is trained to recognize the symptoms and help you work through them. They can teach you coping skills, and you can learn to manage depression and develop a plan that works for you.
One obstacle to reaching for support when you are depressed may be believing that you cannot get better. When you work with a counselor, they can show you that there is hope, and that you can heal.
One form of therapy that can help you with your mental health is online counseling. If you have come to the realization that you or someone you know is dealing with depression, and you want assistance from a licensed therapist; support is available. With more thousands of licensed counselors professionally capable of helping with the treatment, signs, and symptoms of depression, our team of therapists are ready to assist.
The online platform at BetterHelp.com is designed to provide the (more than) one million people who have benefited from our services with the professional help they need online at a time that is convenient for them.