Some struggling with depression may consider the condition difficult to define. The feelings of crushing, overwhelming and debilitating are indeed difficult to describe but mental health professionals and patients have done their best to delineate the problem for the benefit of depression patients.
The National Institute of Health outlines several kinds of depression for therapists, patients and lawmakers.
- Major depression – An all-encompassing disease affecting each part of life without exception. This depressive disorder removes feelings of fulfillment and happiness from even the most previously enjoyable activities. While a patient can experience this once in his or her life, it’s more common to have recurring episodes
- Persistent depressive disorder – Patients must have continued for two years or longer to earn this diagnosis. The severity of the disorder can ebb and flow over this period of time but still remain consistent to some degree
- Psychotic depression – Occurs when the patient has a combination of severe depression and signs of psychosis. Psychosis is a break from reality in which a person sees or hears things that are nonexistent. During these states of distress, immediate mental and physical care is advised
- Postpartum depression – Roughly 10 to 15 percent of women giving birth experience postpartum depression, which is when hormonal and physical changes make new motherhood overwhelming to the point of despair. Feelings of sadness and hopelessness are common as is weight change and differences in appetite and sleeping habits. This condition is not to be confused with postpartum psychosis, which is a more dangerous form of mental illness and requires immediate medical attention
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) – Less natural sunlight in the winter months can bring on depression in some people, with the spring and summer gradually lifting the sadness over time. Roughly 3 million people experience this problem in the United States. While many patients respond to a specialized light therapy, medication and counseling may be required as well
- Bipolar disorder – Sustained ups and downs over a period of time, sometimes including mania, affect 2 to 3 percent of the population and is a significant risk factor for suicide just like any other kinds of depression. Mood stabilizers come in many varieties and help blunt the switch from mania to depression for a more mentally consistent and healthy life
- Situational depression – As indicated in its name, situational depression can occur when life situations become too overwhelming for a person to handle. The death of a loved one, a lost job or a traumatic event such as an assault or robbery can present with situational depression. Sometimes, it can lead to a major depressive episode if left untreated
- Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder – Depression, anxiety, and mood swings can affect 5 percent of women in the second half of their menstrual cycles, according to Angelos Halaris, M.D., a professor of psychiatry and medical director of adult psychiatry at the Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago. Halaris says the condition can regularly affect a woman’s relationships, work, school and other parts of life
Symptoms of depression are vast, depending on the patient and the kind of depression. They include but are not limited to:
- Sleep disturbances – Manifesting in either insomnia or hypersomnia, depression patients can feel difficulty falling asleep or getting up in the morning at a reasonable hour
- Changes in appetite – Some people with depression will yearn for food as comfort while others barely eat anything, resulting in weight change over time
- Physical signs – An underreported part of the depression experience. This can manifest any number of ways, including headaches, depression, stomachaches and back pain
- Loss of general interest – Not to be confused with laziness, a depressed person will have trouble enjoying even the most previously entertaining activities
- Persistent sadness – Feelings of sadness continuing for days, weeks, months and even years in extreme cases
- Thoughts of suicide – In severe cases of depression, regular thoughts about suicide can persist and lead to an actual attempt. In these cases, immediate treatment is recommended
- Feelings of hopelessness – Living day-to-day considering every pursuit pointless and uninspiring
- Poor concentration – Memory can take a hit as well, making a person forgetful of even the most important life events
- Irritability and agitation – Depression patients can feel easily annoyed and ready to lash out at others. Frustration over recurring feelings of depression can hurt relationships unless these thoughts are unpacked and treated
Coping with these overwhelming, life-disrupting aspects of depression can be difficult for one person to handle alone. Mental health professionals can help patients realize their mental potential and overcome the problems of depression.
The Texas Depression Treatment Helpline is a great resource for finding the right treatment experts on this overwhelming illness that affects many people each day. Don’t hesitate to read through our literature and reach out for help at any time.