Depression is not “having a bad day.” It is not a weakness. It is not a temporary mood swing. It is not a flaw in a person’s character, and it is not something for which one should ever feel guilty or ashamed.
What is depression?
Depression is a very real medical condition characterized by specific emotional, behavior, cognitive and physical symptoms. It is reported than 16.2 million people in the United States have had one major depressive episode - and that number is rising. It is also estimated that depression is one of the leading causes of disability around the globe, with more women than men prone to experiencing depression, especially those with a family history of the disease.
Even with rising numbers of diagnosed individuals, and a steady growth in education and information, many people still opt not to seek treatment because of a number of reasons: fear of judgement, cost, or lack of belief in treatment.
Is it true there are different types of depression?
Yes. Here are some of the types:
Major depressive disorder is the most common form, characterized by at least two weeks of suffering. During this time, the individual feels sad, hopeless, or listless, for part or all of the day. This type of depression, without treatment, can go on for weeks, months, or even years, and can cause damage to a person’s life, personally, socially and professionally.
After giving birth, a woman’s hormone levels take a hit – which can result in what is known as postpartum depression. Symptoms include severe loss of appetite, changes in sleeping patterns, panic or anxiety attacks, decreased energy, or repeated crying episodes. Experiencing postpartum depression adds a painful new layer to the pressures a mother is already under.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that occurs as a result of the loss of daylight, which occurs in states that experience four seasons. Many people with SAD begin to feel the symptoms during late fall and through the winter, feeling depressed, sluggish, unable to sleep, and in some extreme circumstances, frequently thinking about death or suicide. In less common circumstances, people can experience “spring and summer SAD,” which have similar symptoms, but which occurs in the warmer months of the year.
Do you “catch” or inherit depression?
Depression can be caused by a single or a number of factors, including family history, chemical imbalances, traumatic life events, sexual, physical or verbal abuse, divorce, bereavement, violence or work stress. Addiction or substance abuse can also be associated with depression, and women are at a higher risk than men of becoming depressed.
How is depression treated?
While medical treatment is sometimes necessary for the treatment of severe forms of depression, talk therapy is considered one of the most successful and essential forms of treatment for management of depression.
Some of the effective psychological treatments for depression include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which involves the therapist and client working together on identifying persistent negative thought and behavior patterns which may be causing the depression, then working on changing those by introducing new, rational thoughts. Another therapy is Interpersonal Therapy (IPT), which focuses on personal relationships and the skills required to deal with the problems that may arise in and from those relationships. There is also the increasingly popular Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) which involves meditation and the act of focusing on the present moment, which enables the patient to move away from thinking about the past and future (which may be the cause of one’s depression and anxiety) and makes them aware of what is actually happening in the present (i.e. “My feet are on the ground. I am breathing in, and out, in, and out.”)
Beyond therapeutic intervention in the safety of four office walls, your counselor will guide you toward other methods you can do on your own that will enable you to manage your depression. While you are taking the first step (accepting help), leading a healthy lifestyle, maintaining an active social life, and developing a plan with goals and tracking your progress are other ways you can learn to manage – and treat – your depression.
If you're struggling with depression, we can help. Contact us today for a free intake consultation.