It starts like just another day but then it begins to feel like the day is getting worse. Anxiety sets in, sadness creeps in, a feeling of low settles right in and before you know it, all your interest in even the most fun activities is lost. While sometimes feeling down or sadness is all right, it might become an issue when things like these not just begin to happen often but also affect your lives greatly. Because this is how depression enters into the picture of life.
It happens to all of us, the bombardment of negative feelings. But when it becomes almost impossible to shake them away, it is most likely to be depression. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression is the main cause of disability worldwide. More than 300 million people belonging to different ages are suffering through this disorder globally. From children to adults, it can happen to anyone. And that is why it becomes important to know What is Depression and its Types and not just that but also its Signs, Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment.
What is Depression and its Types? Signs, Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment
What is Depression?
Most of the people consider the fluctuations of mood as depression, but they couldn’t be far from reality. Depression is actually a complex mood disorder that affects how you feel, think and behave. It leads to different emotional and physical problems and causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest as well as other negative emotions such as worthlessness, helplessness, hopelessness, pessimism or guilt. Depression not just affects the concentration and motivation but also other aspects of everyday life.
Disrupting many systems of the body, depression also interferes with sleep and appetite, causing insomnia and weight loss and in some cases weight gain as well. Different people experience depression in different ways. The negative feelings may vary from not having the energy to do the simplest of the tasks of everyday life to even thinking that life is not really worth living at all. So now we know that depression is not a mood or blues and you can’t just snap out of it. Depression is something that causes pain not only to the one living with the disorder but also hurts the dear ones of them.
What Are the Signs of Depression?
Different types of depression have different kinds of symptoms but most of them are common which are:
- Lack of interest or pleasure in activities and hobbies that used to be enjoyable
- Constantly feeling sadness, emptiness or hopelessness
- Feelings of worthlessness or extreme guilt
- Angry outbursts even over trivial issues
- Loss of sexual desire
- Unreasonable crying episodes of longer time
- Fatigue and feeling lethargic
- Insomnia or sleeping too much
- Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
- Changes in appetite
- Withdrawal from social gatherings
- Trouble in thinking clearly, remembering, concentrating, or making decisions
- Weight gain or loss
- Irritability, agitation, frustration, or restlessness and pacing up and down
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide, or an attempt at suicide
- Unexplained physical issues such as headaches, stomach-aches, or back pain.
Causes of Depression
There is no single cause of depression but many different causes and factors that when combined together lead to depression. The different factors that play a key role are:
- Genetic features
- Depression in family history
- Personal history of mental illness such as anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder
- Changes in the brain’s neurotransmitter levels
- Stressful events, such as the death of a loved one, economic problems, or a divorce
- Major trauma or stress
- Low self-esteem or being self-critical
- Environmental factors
- Psychological and social factors
- Drug use
- Certain medications like sleeping pills or blood pressure medication
- Hormone changes in menstrual cycles or pregnancy
Types of Depression
Like we mentioned earlier, depression has many forms. Different individuals suffer from a different type of depression. Here are some of the most common forms of depression:
Major Depressive Disorder
Also known as major depression, it is the most severe type of depression. A person suffering from major depressive disorder is consistently in a state of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness. When these persistent feelings are just not going away then know that it is the major depression clawing at one’s mind. People with major depression often experience recurrent episodes throughout their lives.
Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD) is just another name of dysthymia and as the name suggests, this kind of depression affects one’s life more than major depression. People with dysthymia have episodes of major depression as well as less chronic symptoms that last for at least two years.
Delusions and hallucinations become a part of their lives when a person is suffering from psychotic depression. People experience psychosis, a mental disorder with depression. When these two conditions occur together, it is called depressive psychosis. In this condition, one may feel, see, hear or believe things that are not real. This form of depression is quite dangerous as the combination of the two conditions might cause one to have thoughts of suicide or to take risks that may harm others as well.
This form of mental disorder takes the mood swings to a whole other level. Bipolar disorder is also known as Manic Depressive Disorder which involves experiencing manic episodes of high energy and depressive episodes of low energy.
Many women experience the “baby blues” after giving birth while hormone levels are in the process of readjusting, causing moods to change. But postpartum depression or postnatal depression is much more serious than that. While pregnancy is an exciting time for people, women with postpartum depression experience major depression during pregnancy or after delivery. The constant feelings of sadness, exhaustion, and anxiety make it difficult for new mothers to look after themselves or their babies.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
As you can guess from the name, this form of depression is brought on by the change in seasons, specifically when the winter comes. People with seasonal affective disorder experience depression when there is a lack of natural sunlight during the winter months.
People with atypical depression often complains about feeling heaviness in their limbs. They get irritated easily, overreact to small matters and thus start having relationship problems. Overeating and oversleeping is also experienced by them.
Caused by a life-changing event, the situational disorder is another form of depression. From losing your job to the death of your dear ones, it can be triggered by anything which makes a large impact on your life.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder that causes repeated thoughts, urges, and fears. People having OCD act out repeated behaviors to reduce the stress that is caused by their obsessions. They also suffer through major depression and start withdrawing from friends and social functions.
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
PMDD or premenstrual dysphoric disorder is a cyclic, hormone-based disorder in which women suffer from severe depression symptoms, irritability, and tension before menstruation. One might confuse it with premenstrual syndrome (PMS) but PMDD is more severe than that. During the reproductive years of a woman, PMDD can arise at any time. Women with premenstrual dysphoric disorder experience depression, anxiety, seasonal affective disorder and also have suicidal thoughts. It is not necessary that these symptoms will occur at every cycle but they do often show appearance in the majority of the cycles. Women with PMDD also have a high risk of experiencing postpartum depression after childbirth.
Treatment of Depression
Depression is a serious issue which is really hard to get rid of but even the worse kind of depression can be treated with proper treatment and care. Having proper medications, family support, and psychotherapy can work wonders for treating depression. In fact, many cases of depression are treated using the combination of medication and psychotherapy.
There is no single kind of treatment for depression since it hits different people in different ways. Hence, it takes some trial and error method to find out which treatment will work the best for a person. Medications such as antidepressants, antianxiety, and antipsychotic medications are often combined with psychotherapy in which a therapist helps people to cope with negative feelings. Besides these, other alternatives like light therapy or herbal supplements are also used for the treatment of depression.
Any treatment that you might start after taking experts’ opinions, it is essential to combine this treatment with a healthy diet and regular exercise. Yoga takes not much effort while meditation helps to clear the mind. Both of these will help you relax and calm your body and mind. Avoid alcohol and drugs since these substances only help in increasing anxiety and depression. Avoid negative people too, for you don’t want any added stress or negative aura around you. Express your thoughts rather than mulling over them all by yourself. Either take the help of your friends and family and confide in them or spill your guts by spilling ink on paper by keeping a journal with you.
Fighting with depression is going to take a long time. Not to mention it will be tiring and exhaustive at times. But with patience and a strong will, you can overcome even the lowest of the lows and highest of the highs. Just stick to a healthy lifestyle and strictly follow your medication and you will do just fine.