Depression is a common but serious mental health disorder that can severely impact every area of a person’s life, from how they think and feel to how they behave. Getting help for depression may be the bravest step you can take.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States, affecting an estimated 16.3 million adults each year. Depression is treatable, but only about one-third of people who suffer from the condition seek professional help for depression. While the disorder is very serious, it is treatable. The Mental Health Center of San Diego has multiple effective treatment options available to help a person overcome depression.
Also called Clinical Depression, Depressive Disorder is more than just feeling sad or “blue” for a few days. To be diagnosed with depression, symptoms must be present for at least two weeks, and a depressive spell can become so bad that people begin to contemplate suicide.
Clinical depression can happen after traumatic experiences, or for no reason at all, and episodes also tend to be reoccurring. You can’t always just “snap out” of a depressive episode, you need professional help otherwise the symptoms can feel unbearable.
When most people think of depression, they think of sadness. And while sadness is certainly a symptom of depression, it is by no means the only one. In fact, there are many different symptoms of depression, and they can vary from person to person. That’s why it’s so important to be aware of all the potential signs and symptoms of this mental illness.
One of the most common symptoms of depression is an overarching feeling of sadness or irritability.
Another common symptom of depression is a loss of interest in activities that you once enjoyed.
Depression can also make it difficult to concentrate on anything, whether it's work, school, or even a conversation with a friend.
If you're struggling to get out of bed in the morning or find yourself wanting to take a nap in the middle of the day, it could be a sign that you're depressed.
Some people with depression lose their appetite altogether and end up losing weight as a result. Others find themselves overeating and gaining weight.
Changes in sleep patterns are also common among those suffering from depression. Some people have trouble falling asleep at night while others find themselves waking up early and being unable to get back to sleep.
Depression can also manifest itself as physical pain throughout the body, including headaches, stomachaches, and back pain.
Feelings like there's nothing good left in life or like there's nothing you can do to change your circumstances, could be linked to an underlying case of depression.
While not every person who experiences suicidal thoughts is necessarily depressed, suicidal ideation is definitely one possible symptom associated with this mental illness.
If you’ve been having thoughts about harming yourself or ending your life, please reach out to The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline right away. They provide 24/7 support for those in crisis and can be reached by dialing 9-8-8.
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Some people associate depression with a chemical imbalance, but the disease is much more complicated. New research suggests that depression isn’t spurred merely by having too little or too much specific brain chemicals.
In fact, there are millions – billions, even – of chemical reactions that are responsible for your mood, responses, and how you perceive life. With this level of complexity, you can see why two people might experience depression differently and react differently to forms of treatment.
However, some risk factors do influence one’s susceptibility to depression.
Differences in certain brain chemicals and imbalances may enhance symptoms of depression.
Depression and suicidal ideation can run in families. For example, if someone’s parent has a major depressive disorder, their child has a 70 percent chance of experiencing the illness sometime in life.
People who exhibit low self-esteem, are sent into a rage or overwhelmed by everyday stresses, or have a pessimistic outlook on life appear to be more likely to be diagnosed with depression.
Environment can trigger a depressive episode. Continuous exposure to neglect, abuse, poverty, or tumultuous circumstances may make some people more vulnerable to depression.
There are several ways that a doctor can diagnose depression. The first step is usually to conduct a physical exam to rule out any other possible causes for the symptoms.
Physical Exam: The doctor will also ask about your medical history and any family history of mental illness. They will want to know about your symptoms and how long you have been experiencing them. Be as honest and as specific as possible in your answers.
Psychological evaluation: This evaluation may include questions about your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. The purpose of this evaluation is to get a better understanding of your symptoms and how they are impacting your life. The doctor may also ask you to complete a questionnaire about your symptoms.
Based on all of this information, the doctor will be able to determine whether or not you are suffering from depression. If they believe you are depressed, they will work with you to develop a treatment plan.
While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for depression, treatments generally fall into two categories: medication and psychotherapy. In some cases, a combination of the two may be recommended. The type of treatment that’s right for you depends on the severity of your symptoms, your preferences, and any other health conditions you may have.
If you think you might be depressed, the first step is to call the Mental Health Center of San Diego at (858) 258-9883. We will have a doctor assess your symptoms and develop a treatment plan that’s right for you.
With proper treatment, most people with depression will start to feel better within a few weeks. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help if you’re feeling overwhelmed by your symptoms—the sooner you get treatment, the sooner you’ll start feeling better.