by HEALTHY HEART CLINICS
What is depression?
Feeling depressed is a normal feeling to experience in reaction to something. However, if symptoms of depression are disrupting your life, it’s time to seek professional care. Depression (known as major depressive disorder) is a serious mental illness that affects how you feel, think, and act. Major depressive disorder causes feelings of sadness and loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed. Depression is treatable through medication and therapy.
There are different types of depression. Different types of major depressive disorders can develop from different circumstances.
Types of depression include:
- Major depressive disorder (MDD): Also known as clinical depression or major depression. This condition is identified when depression symptoms last longer than two weeks and interfere with everyday life.
- Bipolar depression: People who experience bipolar disorder have periods of high-energy (manic) periods and extremely low periods that alternate. During the low period, people with bipolar disorder may experience symptoms of depression (feeling sad, hopeless, and lacking energy).
- Perinatal and postpartum depression: Perinatal (meaning after childbirth) depression is also commonly known as postpartum depression. This type of depression can last up to one year after having a baby. The “baby blues” are another commonly known post-birth side effect that can last can up to two weeks post-childbirth. However, perinatal depression goes beyond minor sadness, worry, or stress and can last much longer. If you are experiencing baby blues for longer than two weeks, speak to your provider about your symptoms.
- Persistent depressive disorder (PDD): People with PDD, or dysthymia, experience less severe symptoms of major depression for up to two years.
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD): PMDD is a severe form of premenstrual disorder (PMS). This disorder causes women to feel severe symptoms of PMS in the days or weeks leading up to their menstrual period.
- Psychotic depression: People with psychotic depression experience psychosis symptoms along with their symptoms of depression. These psychotic symptoms can include delusions (false beliefs that are often disturbing), and hallucinations (seeing and hearing things that are not there).
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD): Also known as seasonal depression, usually starts in the last fall and early winter. Often this disorder does away with the season change into spring and summer.
What causes depression?
There are various factors that can result in depression:
- Life events: Trauma, stress, or the death of a loved one can lead to depression. Isolation and lack of support can also lead to depression.
- Medical conditions: Chronic pain, or ongoing illness can cause depression. Conditions such as diabetes, cancer, and Parkinson’s disease can lead to depression.
- Brain chemistry: Abnormal levels of brain chemicals can lead to depression.
- Medication: A side effect of some medications is depression. Make sure you discuss with your provider any prescription medications you are taking. Recreational drugs and alcohol can lead to depression or make it worse.
Risk factors for depression:
Anyone is at risk for developing depression. However, there are certain risk factors that can increase your likelihood of depression.
Personality: personality can contribute to your risk of depression. If you are easily overwhelmed or have trouble coping, you may be prone to depression.
Genetics: If you have a family history of depression or other mental illness, you can be more likely to become depressed.
What are symptoms of depression?
Symptoms of depression can affect your emotions, mind, and body. These symptoms include:
- Feeling sad, hopeless, or worried
- Feeling guilty and/or worthless
- Difficulty sleeping, waking up early in the morning or oversleeping
- Not enjoying things that used to give you joy
- Low self-esteem
- Being easily irritated (irritable) or frustrated
- Changes in appetite or unplanned weight changes
- Decreased energy or fatigue
- Memory loss or difficult time concentrating
- Headache or stomachache without cause and does not ease with treatment
- Sexual dysfunction
- Thoughts of suicide or harming yourself
When should I see my provider?
- If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, talk with your provider about what your symptoms. They can give you an accurate diagnosis, refer you to a specialist, or suggest treatment options.
- If you or someone you know is thinking of hurting themselves or taking their own life:
- call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 (TYY: 1-800-799-4TTY (4889).
- Go to the emergency room
- Contact a healthcare provider
- Speak to a trusted friend, family member, or spiritual leader
How can I improve my quality of life?
- Maintain physical activity.
- Maintain regular sleeping patterns and get enough sleep.
- Connect with people. Talking with friends in a safe environment is a great way to ease depression symptoms.
- Avoid alcohol, nicotine, or drugs. Do not try methods of self-medication.
- Seek counseling. Speak to a professional about your problems.
Each patient deserves the highest quality of care. Creating a personalized care program tailored to each patient’s unique conditions, needs and circumstances can help people regain control and maintain optimum health.