If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with depression, you no doubt have questions following your doctor’s evaluation. Here we will go into some of the specifics of exactly what depression is and isn’t.
Depression is classified as a mood disorder, and it’s also fairly common. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 8% of American adults aged 20 and beyond experienced depression in any given two-week period in the time frame beginning in 2013 and ending in 2016.
Depression can be exacerbated by loss and/or anger that goes on to interfere with an individual’s day to day function.
There is no one way to experience depression, as different people will process the condition in unique ways. For example, depression can impact your daily work flow, resulting in lost time and lower productivity. Depression can also adversely affect significant relationships and may be linked to physical health concerns.
Did you know that depression has been linked with the worsening of several medical conditions? These include:
- cardiovascular disease
Feeling down on occasion is a normal part of life. Our moods are affected by everything from daily occurrences, disappointments and unexpected surprises. Upsetting events and sad occurrences take place in all of our lives. But, if you’re feeling down more days than not, experience ongoing misery or feel hopeless on a regular basis, you could be dealing with depression.
Depression is a serious medical condition that can lead to negative and unintended outcomes, as well as worsen without proper professional care and treatment.
If depression is left untreated, among the serious complications that can occur include the following:
- substance use problems
- social isolation
- weight gain or loss
- panic attacks
- physical pain
- relationship problems
- suicidal thoughts
Depression can be broken into categories depending on the severity of symptoms. Some people experience mild and temporary episodes, while others experience severe and ongoing depressive episodes.
As you can see, depression can result in a plethora of symptoms that can affect your mind and body.
Additionally, depression can affect women differently than men.
Symptoms of depression in women may be characterized by irritable mood, feelings of emptiness, sadness, hopelessness or anxiety.
Women may experience behavioral symptoms such as loss of interest in activities they previously found pleasurable and isolate from social activities.
Cognitive issues may manifest as talking or thinking at a decreased rate, and thoughts of suicide.
Sleep issues are common and include waking early, difficulty sleeping through the night, and oversleeping.
The physical changes that depression can bring in women include headaches, increased cramps, decreased energy, changes in appetite, increased fatigue, weight changes and general aches and pains.
Conversely, the symptoms of depression in men may manifest in slightly different ways. For example, mood changes can include increased restlessness, irritability, anxiousness, anger and aggressiveness.
Emotionally men may report feeling sad, empty and/or hopeless.
For males, behavioral manifestations of depression can range from engaging in high-risk activities, thoughts of suicide, and being easily fatigued.
Sexual symptoms of depression can include a lack of sexual performance and/or reduced sexual desire.
Difficulty completing tasks, the inability to concentrate and delayed responses can be cognitive manifestations of depression in men, while physical issues may manifest as digestive problems, fatigue, and headache.
Professionals mostly agree that depression is influenced by both biological and situational factors. For example, your family history is linked to your odds of developing depression. If depression runs in your family, you have a higher risk for developing the disorder.
Certain medical conditions can represent a higher risk for depression. These conditions include but are not limited to chronic pain, insomnia and even attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
It’s also been shown that a history of substance abuse can increase the risk of developing depression.
Research shows that roughly 30% percent of individuals who report a substance use issue also experience depression, and research has established an association between alcohol use and depression, e.g., individuals who have depression are more likely to abuse alcohol.
This link can result in a vicious cycle as frequent alcohol use can exacerbate symptoms of depression, and people who have depression are more likely to misuse alcohol and/or become dependent on it.
According to a 2012 study, nearly 63% of individuals who reported alcohol dependency also reported symptoms of depression.
In addition to the examples above, there exist many other risk factors for depression, including:
- the use of certain medications
- experiencing stressful events, e.g., the loss of a loved one, financial problems, or a change in relationship status
- low self-esteem or a high level of self-criticalness
- a personal history of mental illness
There isn’t one single method professionals use to diagnose depression; Your doctor may make a diagnosis based on a psychological evaluation from a self-report of your symptoms.
Based on the items listed above, you may have intuited that your doctor will inquire about your sleep patterns, appetite, activity level and general cognitive and mood states.
If you recognize any of these symptoms of depression in your own life, don’t ignore them. If your mood doesn’t improve or gets worse, seek medical help promptly. Depression is much more than feeling sad or down, it is a serious mental condition which can lead to additional complicating factors.
Depression can be short-term or acute, or it can be an ongoing, long-term challenge. There are many recommendations your doctor will make to treat symptoms of depression, but it is important to keep in mind that treatment does not always result in the elimination of depressive symptoms.
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Our professional, dedicated staff have the understanding, experience, and compassion necessary to support each resident’s clinical treatment team goals. We offer individualized tier level programs, and guidance with residents’ personal recovery and independent living goals.
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