What is depression?
Are there different types of depression?
Why do people become depressed?
What is depression linked with?
What are the warning signs of depression?
What are some things a depressed person might say?
What would a depressed person not seek help?
Is there hope for people who suffer from depression?
What is depression? Back to top
- Depression is a medical illness which affects the brain, which in turn affects the rest of the body.Depression can affect anyone: children, adolescents, young adults, middle-aged adults, and older people.
- Everyone feels down from time to time. However with depression, these feelings are more severe and occur nearly every day for two weeks or more.
- Depression is widely misunderstood, often ignored or untreated despite it disrupting work, family relations, and social life.
- Depression is the most prevalent mental health disorder. 20% of adults will have suffered from depression at some point in their lives.
- Depression affects nearly 10% of Americans ages 18 and over in a given year, or more than 19 million people.
- More Americans suffer from depression than coronary heart disease (7 million), cancer (6 million) and AIDS (200,000) combined.
- Depression is among the most treatable of psychiatric illnesses. Between 80 percent and 90 percent of people with depression respond positively to treatment, and almost all patients gain some relief from their symptoms.
- Depression can be properly treated and most people can start feeling well again in a few weeks. But first, depression has to be recognized. Diagnosis is based on how sufferers report they feel, look, and behave.
Are there different types of depression? Back to top
There are four different types of depression. The main types of depression include:
- Major Depression- Here a person feels very low. Feels like it begins suddenly and may possibly be triggered by a loss, crisis, or change. It interferes with normal functioning, lasts several week to years if left untreated.
- Bipolar Disorder- Periods of depression and “highs” or mania which includes less need for sleep, overconfidence, racing thoughts, reckless behaviour, and increased energy.
- Dysthymia- A person will feel mildly depressed for at least two years. They function fairly well on a daily basis, but lives and relationships with others suffer over time.
- Seasonal Affective Disorder- Mood fluctuations or depression results in changes in the season, usually when there is a decrease in sunlight.
Why do people become depressed? Back to top
Usually it is a combination of environmental, psychological, genetic, and biochemical factors. Some of these are described below, but depression can also occur without an obvious reason.
- Life Changes- both positive and negative major life changes can trigger depression (e.g., death of a loved one, an assault, a move, financial setback)
- Psychology- unhealthy thinking patterns
- Environmental Stressors- challenging or difficult work, family, and personal circumstances
- Family History- a family history of depression increases the likelihood for depression, 11x more likely than someone without a family history
- Chemical Imbalance- there can be imbalances of important chemicals in the brain; decreased serotonin is associated with depression
- Major Illness- health conditions or diagnosis may play a role; i.e. having a heart attack, stroke or cancer may trigger depression, chronic pain, physical condition that does not improve, etc.
- Substance Abuse- alcohol and/or other drug use may cause or worsen depression
- Medication- some medications or combinations of medications may cause depression as a side effect
What is depression linked with? Back to top
We see that depression or symptoms of depression may be common within the following:
- Eating disorders
- Substance abuse
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Adjustment disorders
- Anxiety disorders
- Personality disorders
- Diagnosis of recent physical illness or disease
What are the warning signs of depression?* Back to top
- Feeling sad, empty, hopeless, or numb
- Restlessness, irritability, or anxiety
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Less interest or participation in activities normally enjoyed
- Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- Repeated thoughts of death or suicide
- Low energy and feeling tired all the time
- Changes in appetite or weight (eating more or less)
- Change in sleep patterns (sleeping more or less)
- May include headaches, aches, pains, digestive problems, dizziness, or light-headedness
- Increased use of alcohol or drugs
- Self-destructive behaviors
- Neglecting responsibilities
- Neglecting appearance
- Slowing down
- Risk-taking behaviours
- Loss of control or rage
*It is common for people who are depressed to show symptoms like those above, but one must keep in mind that many people who experience depression will try very hard to mask these feelings from others.
What are some things a depressed person might say? Back to top
It is important to note that everyone experiences depression differently. Each person’s experience of depression is unique to themselves meaning that the duration, type, severity, and frequency of symptoms is likely to vary. However, usually the onset of major depressive episodes is gradual. A depressed person might say things like:
- “Nothing is going right and it never will”
- “I can’t do anything right”
- “It doesn’t matter”
- “What’s the point?”
- “It seems like I cry all the time”
- “I don’t want to talk to anyone. It’s too hard.”
- “Everything annoys me”
- “I’m not sure if you still love me”
- “People think I’m crazy”
- “I don’t care what I look like”
- “No one cares”
Why would a depressed person not seek help? Back to top
- Stigmas- stereotypes, judgments, and gender expectations they feel
- Shame or fear may cause them to hide it
- They don’t know they need it
- They don’t know where or how to get it
- They may feel so hopeless that they think nothing will make it better
Is there hope for people who suffer from depression? Back to top
- 80-90% of people who seek appropriate treatment return to how they felt and functioned before they were depressed.
- There are many effective treatments which may include psychotherapy or talk therapy, medication, etc. Use a mental health professional to find out which is best for you.
- It’s always important to talk about it.