Depression is one of the main reasons that people reach out to us at iCounseling for services. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, the leading cause of disability in the United States for ages 15-44 is depression. It has affected 14.8 million Americans, or 6.7% of the population in the past 12 months. The World Health Organization notes that it is the third leading cause of illness worldwide. Women are twice as likely to have depression as men, but men are more likely to take extreme measures, such as suicide, to deal with their depression. This is a guide to tell you about some depression signs and symptoms, the various types of depression, and some treatment options you may find useful.
According to the Mayo Clinic, depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Also called major depressive disorder or clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. You may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and sometimes you may feel as if life isn't worth living. Depression is more than just a bout of the blues, depression isn't a weakness and you can't simply "snap out" of it.
Biological - People with depression may have too little or too much of certain brain chemicals, such as serotonin and norepinephrine. Changes in these brain chemicals may cause or play a role in clinical depression.
Cognitive - People with negative thinking and low self-esteem are more likely to develop clinical depression.
Gender - Women experience clinical depression nearly twice as often as men. The reasons for this are still not understood, but may include hormonal changes women go through during menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth and menopause. Additional reasons may include stress caused from juggling many responsibilities, as some woman do.
Co-occurrence - Depression is more likely to occur along with certain illnesses, such as heart disease, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and hormonal disorders.
Medications - Side effects of some medications can bring about depression.
Genetic - A family history of clinical depression increases the risk for developing the illness.
Situational - Difficult life events, including divorce, financial problems or the death of a loved one can contribute to clinical depression.
Common Causes of Depression according to Helpguide.org - Loneliness, lack of social support, recent stressful life experiences, family history of depression, marital and relationship problems, financial strain, early childhood trauma or abuse, alcohol or drug abuse, unemployment and underemployment, and health problems or chronic pain.
Depression caused by chronic illness often aggravates the illness, especially if the illness causes pain, fatigue or disrupts your social life. Depression can intensify pain. It causes fatigue and sluggishness that can worsen the loss of energy associated with these conditions. Depression also tends to make people withdraw into social isolation.The rate for depression occurring with other medical illnesses is quite high:
You may notice the following symptoms and signs in yourself or in others:
Increased fatigue with associated sleep issues - Too much sleep, too little sleep, trouble falling asleep, trouble staying asleep, tossing and turning all night, and daytime drowsiness.
Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed: You find yourself not participating in activities that once brought you happiness, and believe that you will not enjoy them anymore.
Isolation and pulling away from people in your life - You distance yourself from people in your life. You stop returning calls and message, you cancel plans, and you feel like telling them how you are feeling would be a burden.
Feeling helpless or hopeless - You have little to no hope for the future, and you feel like your current feelings and situation are not capable of being changed.
Lack of motivation - You find it very difficult to participate in the tasks of everyday life. You can’t imagine gathering the energy to work, watch your children, exercise, eat, or speak with those in your life.
Changes in appetite - This can be eating too much or too little. You may find yourself having virtually no appetite and losing weight. You may also find yourself binge eating unhealthy foods to fill the void depression is leaving in your life. This behavior is most common when you are bored or stressed.
Poor memory, focus, and concentration - You are finding it harder and harder to focus on tasks that need to be done. You struggle to recall information on the spot, if at all. Your concentration is significantly impacted, where you find it difficult to concentrate on a particular task or item that needs to be done.
Intrusive and negative thoughts - You struggle with negative thoughts that seem to insert themselves into your view of yourself, your abilities, and the world. You are unable to see the positive or realistically.
Changes in mood - You notice that you are having increased feelings of sadness, irritability, anger, and aggression. These were not present to this degree, or potentially at all before.
Increased substance use or reckless behaviors - You are drinking or using drugs to numb yourself and detach from the emotional pain. You are careless about your safety and well-being, as you do not have much hope for your future.
Lack of energy - Even the simplest tasks seem like they would exert more effort than you are capable of. You do not bother with the tasks due to this belief.
Physical aches and pains - An unexplained overall feeling of aches and pains, and a general feeling of not being well. Depression symptoms can manifest physically in this way.
Thoughts of death - This can range from active to passive thoughts. You could have passive thoughts of suicide, such as, "I would not care if I ever woke up." You could have active thoughts of suicide which include a detailed plan, the means to do it, and the ability to carry out the plan.
You can speak with your individual therapist about how you might work through these issues, practice these coping skills, and make these lifestyle changes. As you have read, depression can have a significant impact on people’s health and sense of well-being. It can make you feel helpless, and it can cause you to stop doing the things that you once enjoyed in your life. However, help is possible and available. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of incredible strength and a step toward overcoming depression. At iCounseling, we want to help you work on your depression treatment, and get you back to the life you are imagining, and want for yourself. Help is possible, and there is hope that you can have the life you envision. We look forward to working with you.
According to the Mayo Clinic, depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Also called major depressive disorder or clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. You may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and sometimes you may feel as if life isn't worth living. Overcoming depression is more than just dealing with a bout of the blues, depression isn't a weakness and you can't simply "snap out" of it.
Biofeedback is a technique that trains people to improve their health by controlling certain bodily processes that normally happen involuntarily, such as heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tension, and skin temperature. Many people will go to a therapist for a few sessions to learn the techniques, which they can then do on their own. However, there are now mobile apps and personal computer programs which simulate the training.