We think of a person as being depressed when they feel, blue, unhappy, miserable, or down in the dumps. These are feelings that each of us has experienced at one time or another. Feeling depressed is not a bad thing it is an emotion just a part of life. In fact, if a person never felt depressed we would consider them to emotionally stunted.
There are many causes of depression for instance people are likely to get depressed when they get bad news such as when someone close to them dies or if they are diagnosed with a serious illness. They sometimes get depressed over news that is not nearly as terribly, like when their favorite sports team losses or they get passed over for a promotion. The vast majority of people go through short periods of depression and snap out them, and they describe this kind of emotion as just being down. However when a person falls into a long term funks or periods of unhappiness, they may be clinically depressed. While there is no sure way to tell if a person is clinically depressed there are some common signs such as:
- Excessive sleeping
- Constant feelings of hopelessness
- Catastrophic thinking
- Inability to Concentrate
- Persistent sadness
- An inability to find joy or happiness
- Rapid weight gains or loss
- Drastic mood swings
- Thoughts of suicide
- Anger issues
If a person exhibits any of the above symptoms for an extended period of time, it is likely that that are clinically depressed. It is important to recognize when a person is depressed because long term depression can render a person incapable of handling their day to day affairs and some seriously depressed people harm themselves (3 in 100) and in extreme cases commit suicide (17 in 100). If a person suspects that they or a loved one is depressed it is important that they seek help because the consequences of not getting treatment for depression can be catastrophic.
Types of Depression
The most common type of depression is called major depressive disorder (MDD). Symptoms of this type of depression include feelings of sadness, irrational burst of anger, frustration and restlessness. People that suffer from MDD often self-medicate by using alcohol or illegal substances. They are also at risk for other serious mental problems, and they commit suicide at a much higher rate than the general population. People who suffer from MDD are treated with drugs and talk therapy. The most common drugs that are used to treat this type of depression are antidepressants such as, citalopram (Celexa), fluoxetine (Prozac), escitalopram (Lexapro) and sertraline (Zoloft). Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) has also proven to be an effective treatment for people who suffer severe forms of MDD
Bipolar depression is another serious type of depression. The symptoms of bipolar depression include manic behavior, racing thought processes, and poor decision making. This type of depression affects about two to three percent of the population. People who suffer from bipolar depression commit suicide at a much higher rate than the general population. People that suffer from bipolar depression are usually prescribed drugs called mood stabilizers.
Another common type of depression is seasonal affective depression (SAD). This type of depression occurs in people that live in regions that have distinct summer and winter seasons. This condition usually occurs in women and adolescents. Most experts believe that decreased exposure to sunlight affects the biological clock of people that suffer from this type of depression. Symptoms of SAD include daytime fatigue, lethargy, and increased irritability. People with the SAD disorder are treated with counseling and with light therapy.
Dysthymia depression is commonly referred to as chronic depression. It affects an estimated three percent of the world’s population. It affects roughly twice as many women as men. Dysthymia depression often last for long periods of time and can prevent those that suffer from it from living a full and progressive lives. Symptoms of chronic depression include fatigue, low energy, low self-esteem and lack of motivation. The treatments for this type of depression include psychotherapy, exercise and living a healthy lifestyle.
No one knows exactly what causes depression, and it is often much more serious than just being sad or in a foul mood. Most experts believe that depression is a physical condition related to “neurotransmitters in the brain—specifically those such as norepinephrine and serotonin that affect mood” the result is a chemical imbalance in the brain. The good news is that chemical imbalances can be treated, and psychotherapy and a healthy lifestyle can also help.