You’re sad, frequently tired, and have trouble eating and sleeping. The important question is, how often do these things happen? If they’re only temporary and go away on their own, there may not be much to worry about. But if these symptoms persist, you could be experiencing signs of depression.
WHAT IS DEPRESSION?
“Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think, and how you act. Fortunately, it is also treatable. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease your ability to function at work and at home.” Fortunately, symptoms are treatable with options like ketamine.
The American Psychiatric Association says depression risk factors fall into four categories:
- Biochemistry, or how certain brain chemicals work, could predispose someone to depression symptoms.
- Inheritance, like other illnesses, depression can run in families.
- Personality traits like low self-esteem, cynicism, and being easily exhausted by stress are more likely to lead to depression symptoms.
- Environmental stressors and big life events, like joblessness, bereavement, psychological distress, and problematic relationships are thought to be linked to depression.
TYPES OF DEPRESSION
There are many kinds of depression, but all of them can be relieved with the right treatments.
- Major depressive disorder is a clinical depression with intense or overpowering symptoms that persist longer than two weeks. These symptoms inhibit everyday life.
- If you suffer from bipolar disorder, you may experience episodes of low moods and exceptionally high-energy cycles. During low periods, you may experience depression symptoms like feeling hopeless or sad or having low energy.
- Persistent depressive disorder, known as dysthymia. Symptoms are less acute than major depression, but they can linger for two years or more.
- If you struggle with psychotic depression, you have had serious depressive symptoms and hallucinations or delusions. Delusions mean you believe in something not rooted in reality, while hallucinations mean seeing, hearing, or feeling something that isn’t actually there.
- Seasonal affective disorder, or seasonal depression, usually begins in late fall or early winter. It often subsides during the warmer months.
Depression can be hard to diagnose, mostly due to symptoms that can overlap with those of other mental health conditions. But if you’re depressed, you generally exhibit the following symptoms:
- Sad or depressed moods
- Lack of interest in things you once enjoyed doing
- Changes in appetite or weight
- Problems sleeping
- Low energy or increased tiredness
- Increase in pointless physical activity (you’re unable to sit still, you pace, you wring your hands) or slow bodily movements or speech noticeable by someone else
- Feeling worthless or guilty
- Having trouble thinking, focusing, or decision making
- Thinking of suicide or death
Is depression curable?
Like most other mental health conditions, depression isn’t generally considered something that can be cured. Its symptoms are a lifelong struggle but can often be managed with care and dedication. According to one online post, “When someone is cured of an illness, it means it’s gone forever. Some illnesses can’t be cured—like diabetes.” Or depression. There’s no known cure, but there are many effective treatments. People can recover and live long and healthful lives.
If you suffer from depression, it’s not common to have other physical or mental health difficulties, like anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder, phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder, substance abuse disorders, and eating disorders. If you or someone you know has symptoms of depression or another mental health condition, seek professional medical care from a doctor or mental health specialist. Treatments, including different kinds of psychotherapy and ketamine infusion therapy, can help.
DIAGNOSIS & DEPRESSION
Before being treated for depression, you first must undergo a diagnosis by a medical doctor or mental health professional specializing in mental illness. A doctor may perform a thorough physical, looking for an underlying medical cause for your symptoms. During a psychiatric evaluation, your clinician will ask about thoughts, feelings, and behavior and whether you have a personal or family history of depression or mental illness. In many cases, your symptoms will be compared to criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
After diagnosis, you may be treated with psychotherapy, antidepressants, self-help, or treatment like ketamine infusion therapy.
If you suffer from depression, you’re one of more than 17 million American adults waging the same battle. It’s little consolation being part of that club, but there is good news. With early diagnosis and proper care, you can begin to manage depression symptoms and regain control of your life.