Facts About Depression, 8.4% of individuals in the United States experienced at least one major depressive episode in the previous year, which is defined as a sad mood or loss of interest in daily activities that lasted for two weeks or more. This rate is even higher among females (10.5%), people of color (15.9%%), and those between the ages of 18 and 25 (17 percent ).
The sickness of depression is very real and curable. But for many people, stigma, misconceptions, and treatment hurdles still exist, and the effects of untreated depression can be lethal. Here are seven aspects of depression and depressive illnesses that everyone should be aware of.
1. Depression Doesn’t Always Have a “Good” Reason
Sometimes what appears like a “positive” reason—such as losing their job or losing a loved one—causes people to become depressed. However, there doesn’t always need to be a reason for how you feel when you have clinical depression.
In actuality, 16 million adults suffer from depression without ever having gone through a bad situation or going through a major life upheaval. Due to their ignorance of the fact that depression can exist without a trigger or external stressor, this can make others less compassionate.
This can be explained by the fact that depression is associated with an imbalance in the neurotransmitters that control mood.
According to the notion, having too little or too much of these chemical messengers might lead to (or worsen) depression.
As a result, even when everything in your life appears to be going well, your mood may be caused by an imbalance in the brain chemicals that regulate it.
2. Many Factors Can Cause Depression
Although the exact cause of depression isn’t always known, many people think that a number of things frequently contribute to this mental health problem. The following are only a few of the numerous causes of depression:
More than 80 genetic variations that have been linked to depression have been found. According to different research, a parent’s depression increases a child’s likelihood of developing depression during adolescence and into adulthood. This raises the possibility that genetics may contribute to the emergence of this disease.
Changes in the production or function of hormones, such as those connected to menstruation, the thyroid, menopause, or pregnancy, may be a factor in depression. For instance, one study discovered that premenopausal women who had greater testosterone levels also experienced more depressive symptoms.
Disruptions in the body’s circadian rhythm at various periods of the year cause major depressive disorder with seasonal patterns, commonly known as a seasonal affective disorder. Seasonal changes can also cause sleep problems, which can worsen depression.
Trauma and stress:
Losing a loved one, experiencing trauma or abuse, experiencing ongoing stress, and experiencing significant life changes (such as being divorced or losing a job) can all lead to depression. The high quantities of the hormone cortisol that are released during stressful or traumatic moments are responsible for this, according to researchers. Depression may be brought on by cortisol’s impact on the neurotransmitter serotonin.
People with a history of substance use also have increased rates of depression. This could be explained by the stigma associated with depression encouraging people to take drugs as a coping mechanism or by the relationship between substance use and depression. According to other ideas, substance abuse causes depression or that both substance abuse and depression are caused by different underlying problems.
3. Depression Is More Than Ordinary Sadness
Sadness is a normal human response to terrible situations, something we have all gone through at some point in our lives. However, depression is a disease with numerous symptoms that go far beyond a negative attitude.
Depressive symptoms include:
- Changes in appetite, weight, and sleep patterns
- Difficulty with concentration, memory, and decision-making
- Feeling anxious, hopeless, or helpless
- Feeling irritable or restless
- Persistent feelings of sadness or an “empty” mood
- Physical symptoms (such as headaches, digestive issues, body aches, and pain) that don’t subside with treatment
- Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Low energy or feelings of fatigue
- Slowness when talking and/or moving
- Trouble sleeping
4. Children Are Not Immune to Depression
The idea that childhood is always a happy, carefree time is untrue. Children can feel depression even though they might not go through the same things that adults do, including stress at work or financial strains.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2.7 million children, or 4.4% of those between the ages of 3 and 17, have depression diagnoses. Additionally, 47.2 percent of kids with behavior issues and 73.8 percent of kids with depression also experience anxiety.
Bullying—both in-person and online—and the fight for acceptability among peers are just a few of the difficulties that come with childhood. Children may experience stress related to their studies, athletics, physical changes, or domestic problems such as a parent’s separation or divorce.
Children who exhibit signs of depression include:
- Changes in eating habits
- Changes in sleeping patterns
- Mood changes
- No longer enjoying activities they once loved
- Reduced energy levels
- Trouble at school
When a Child Displays Depression Symptoms
Speak to a child’s parent or legal guardian if you think they may be depressed. Consult a pediatrician or mental health specialist if the patient is your child. They might rule out any medical problems and/or suggest that your child receive additional evaluation and therapy from a mental health specialist.
5. Depression Is a Real Illness
Some depressed individuals believe they are “crazy” or weak. If the depression doesn’t seem to be brought on by a bad incident, they could wonder if what they’re feeling is real. However, some doctors are even beginning to refer to depression as a systemic disease, as it is a true illness (meaning it affects the whole body, not just the brain).
Do not forget that 16 million adults suffer from depression without a traumatic event or significant shift in their lives. Disruptions in the neurotransmitter levels that should be present in these people can help a depressive episode start. These neurotransmitters are crucial for controlling mood:
Dopamine: A neurotransmitter that regulates motivation, reward, memory, and mood
Norepinephrine: When you are under stress or in a “fight or flight” response, norepinephrine causes your heart rate and blood pressure to spike.
Serotonin: also referred to as the “feel-good” neurotransmitter, aids in mood regulation and contributes to your general sense of wellbeing.
6. Depression Is Treatable
For depression, there are numerous successful therapeutic approaches. 18 People who have had less success with conventional depression therapies now have hope thanks to the development of innovative medications.
The optimal course of treatment for you will depend on your symptoms and general health. The symptoms of depression are frequently treated with a mix of psychotherapy, medication, and lifestyle modifications.
You might take part in solo, group, family, or couples therapy, depending on your circumstances. You can better recognize, comprehend, and learn how to manage your depressive symptoms with the aid of therapy.
Although there are many various therapeutic modalities, these have been shown in studies to be effective in treating depression:
- Behavioral activation
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Interpersonal therapy
- Problem-solving therapy
- Psychodynamic therapy
- Social skills therapy
- Supportive counseling
Numerous drugs have also been proven beneficial in the treatment of depression, particularly when combined with psychotherapy.
Finding the drug that reduces your symptoms with the fewest side effects may need some trial and error since there is no one-size-fits-all method for treating depression.
Inform your mental health practitioner if the medicine that has been provided to you isn’t functioning. It could be necessary to try a different medicine or adjust the dosage in order to get relief from your depression symptoms.
You can manage depression symptoms more effectively by making a few lifestyle adjustments in addition to treatment and medication (as well as managing medication side effects). Find out which adjustments might be most beneficial for you by speaking with your mental health practitioner.
There is no one-size-fits-all diet that will heal depression, but some foods might affect mood and emotional control. Your mental health can be hijacked by processed meals, alcohol, caffeine, sugar, and refined carbohydrates, so you should restrict or avoid them. On the other hand, whole foods including fruits, vegetables, fish, poultry, beans, nuts, and seeds might improve mood. Since non-organic food contains pesticides, herbicides, steroids, and antibiotics, all of which disturb the gut microbiota, eating organic food may also be advantageous. This could result in the release of immunological pro-inflammatory molecules (cytokines) that can disturb the balance of neurotransmitters by crossing the blood-brain barrier.
Getting in a solid workout will improve your mood, lower your stress level, and lessen the effects of depression. Your degree of fitness and general health should guide the type of activity you select. Choose a hobby that you enjoy. Along with mind-body exercises like yoga and tai chi, your practice can incorporate cardio workouts like jogging, swimming, cycling, or brisk walking.
Management of stress:
Stress can precipitate depression and exacerbate its symptoms. Resilience is cultivated over time through practices like mindfulness meditation, healthy eating, consistent exercise, and restful sleep. Once you discover what works for you, include daily stress-reduction strategies. Additional suggestions can be obtained from a support group or mental health expert.
7. Untreated Depression Is a Common Cause of Suicide
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, mental illness affects 45 percent of people who die by suicide. Individuals with undiagnosed, untreated, or inadequately treated depression are included in this.
Numerous depression warning signals also serve as suicide warning indications. For the purpose of avoiding suicide thoughts, ideas, or deeds, accurate depression diagnosis, and treatment are crucial.
If You or Someone You Love Has Depression
You might be unsure of what to do if you or someone you care about is exhibiting symptoms of depression. Learn more about depression, including its signs, causes, and treatments as well as common misconceptions and stigmas. You’ll have a clearer idea of what to anticipate as a result, which will help you be a more knowledgeable patient or caregiver.
Make a scheduled visit to a medical or mental health practitioner. They can perform a physical examination, order blood tests to rule out any medical problems that might be mistaken for depression, and then recommend you for additional assessment and treatment to a mental health specialist.
Asking your doctor or therapist for trustworthy resources of information and assistance about depression during the session is another option. They might be able to put you in touch with local agencies that focus on diagnosing or treating depression.