How To Recognize And Manage Depression Triggers
An episode of depression can occur suddenly, even when things in life seem fine. While depression has potential causes, understanding what triggers it is vital to maintaining good mental health. An episode may leave you feeling tired, unworthy, and make things more challenging to complete. When you can spot signs of depression within yourself, it raises awareness of the status of your mental health, and you can identify depression in others.
Assess Recent Thoughts And Actions
Assessing your mental health is essential when determining possible triggers. Think about thoughts and actions that led to you feeling depressed. Sometimes people get so busy living day to day they may not realize a situation or circumstance triggered their depressive mood. Things around you, such as people, places, ideas, and events, all influence your mental health differently. Journal writing may help with getting things off your chest or reflecting on previous occasions. If you keep a mental health journal, review your past entries for clues. Maybe youll notice a change in your mood or thoughts that could be a starting point for your assessment. Some may not find a cause for their depressive mood. Sometimes things that are out of your control is the culprit.
Press Play For Advice On Managing Depression
Hosted by Editor-in-Chief and therapist Amy Morin, LCSW, this episode of The Verywell Mind Podcast shares how to find the courage to face depression, featuring Olympic gold medalist Laurie Hernandez.
When sadness turns into depression, there are some telltale signs, including:
- Changes in appetite, weight, and sleep patterns
- Feeling anxious, hopeless, or helpless
- Feeling irritable and restless
- Persistent feelings of sadness or an empty mood
- Physical symptoms that dont subside with treatment
- Loss of interested in actives you once enjoyed
- Low energy or feelings of fatigue
- Trouble with concentration, memory, and decision-making
Unfortunately, you can’t just snap yourself out of depression. If you recognize these signs, seek help from a mental health professional.
Eye Problems Or Decreasing Vision
Do you find that the world looks blurry? While depression may cause the world to look grey and bleak, one 2010 research study in Germany suggests that this mental health concern may actually affect ones eyesight.
In that study of 80 people, depressed individuals had difficulty seeing differences in black and white. Known by researchers as contrast perception, this might explain why depression can make the world look hazy.
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Understand And Accept Depression
Learning more about depression can help people deal with the condition. Depression is a widespread and genuine mental health disorder. It is not a sign of weakness or a personal shortcoming.
Accepting that a depressive episode may occur from time to time might help people deal with it when it does. Remember, it is possible to manage symptoms with treatments, such as lifestyle changes, medication, and therapy.
The Good News About Depression
According to Dr. Irene Richard, neurologist at the University of Rochester, quality of life of people with Parkinsons is affected more by depression than by their physical symptoms. At first glance, that may not sound like good news, but Richard explains, The good news is that depression is treatable, and, when depression is treated, everything becomes more manageable.
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Feeling Guilty All The Time
Guilt is a perfectly normal feeling. If you do something you regret, guilt will follow. The thing with depression though, is that it can cause feelings of guilt over nothing or over everything.
Feeling guilty is actually a symptom of depression and its the reason why when I experience depression, I feel like Im taking on the ills of the world. For example, people with depression may feel guilty about not being able to help people who are victims of a natural disaster and this, in turn, makes them feel that theyre worthless.
Of course, feeling guilty about things closer to home, such as feeling incredibly guilty over a disagreement, is even more common.
Different Types Of Depression
Your doctor may diagnose you with depression and say that its mild, moderate or severe depending on your symptoms and how severe they are. Or you may be diagnosed with a specific type of depression, such as:
- dysthymia mild depression that lasts for several years
- seasonal affective disorder depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern
- postnatal depression depression that many parents experience after having a baby. Some people experience antenatal depression during pregnancy.
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The Physical Effects Of Depression
The most well-known symptoms of depression are emotional, including sadness, guilt, irritability, and feelings of hopelessness. Other frequent symptoms, like trouble focusing or concentrating on tasks, are also thought of as being related to ones state of mind.
Although depression is a mental illness, it can also cause physical symptoms. Pain, stomach upset, fatigue, and restlessness are just a few potential physical effects of depression. People can have these physical symptoms for a variety of reasons, but they may not realize depression can be among the potential causes.
Certain treatments used for depression, such as medication, can also have physical side effects like nausea, weight changes, and sexual dysfunction. If you have physical symptoms of depression, your doctor and mental health care provider can help you better understand and manage them.
What Might Indicate That Both Anxiety And Depression Are Present
Traits that may signal the presence of both anxiety disorder and depression include:
- Irrational worries or fears that wont go away
- Physical symptoms, such as fatigue, headaches, rapid heartbeat, labored breathing or abdominal pain
- Difficulty going to sleep or staying asleep
- Changes in eating habits either too much or too little
- Trouble remembering, making decisions or concentrating
- Constant feelings of sadness or worthlessness
- Loss of usual interest in activities or hobbies
- Feeling often tired and cranky
- Inability to relax and live in the moment
- Suffering from panic attacks, including the sense of losing inner control2
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Other Conditions Or Illnesses
The stress from any condition or illness can trigger depression, but there are some that have been specifically studied as being associated with depression.
According to a 2012 overview paper, overt hypothyroidism is rare in depression. However, mild or subclinical hypothyroidism is much more common.
Harvard Health reports that up to half of heart attack survivors have a low mood, with many experiencing significant depression. The depression associated with heart disease has been linked to slower recovery, future cardiovascular problems, and higher risk of mortality within about six months.
Other medical conditions that have been associated with mood disorders such as depression include:
- Degenerative neurological conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease
- Head injuries
The Connection Is Sometimes Illusory
Posted August 18, 2013
It is a commonplace that when bad things happen, people feel bad. Feeling depressed is just one of the many emotional states that constitute a reaction to the constantly varying conditions of our lives. We are at any one time worried, or gleeful, or angry– or feeling some less specific emotionin response to something said to us, or done to us, or as simply a product of the happenstance of the days events. If someone were to ask us, Why are you frightenedor angryor aggrieved? we would most of the time be able to give an explicit answer. I am depressed because my friend snubbed meor because I failed at an important taskor because I have been turned down for a jobor because I have been abandoned by the person I love.
The sort of depression described above, even when it is profound, does not respond to drugs. It gets better when the loss that has been experienced is made up in some way. It is like an exaggerated form of grief. People get better with time. Psychotherapy is helpful in providing support and guidance. But someone jilted by a lover will recover finallycompletely– only when someone else has taken that other persons place.
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Want To Beat Depression For Yourself Or A Friend
Dr. William Nathan Upshaw is the Medical Director of NeuroSpa TMS®. Since receiving training from the inventor of TMS Therapy nearly a decade ago, Dr. Upshaw has been a pioneer, champion and outspoken advocate of TMS Therapy. Dr. Upshaws holistic experience in the field has transformed him into Floridas leading advocate for widespread accessibility to TMS Therapy.
The term triggered has entered our national vocabulary as a general reference to sore spots in a persons psyche that result in emotional outbursts, particularly in conversations about politics. Weve all seen the PTSD triggered memes. However, theres a much more serious use for the term trigger. In psychology, a trigger is a stimulus or condition that prompts a relapse of depression. A depression trigger can be something simple or a complex series of events.
Although a depression trigger isnt the root cause of a persons depression, triggers can cause a recurrence of depression. Its important to understand ones triggers, as depression tends to be recurrent. People who have lived through one depressive episode are 50 percent more likely to endure a second episode, and the likelihood of recurrences just goes up after that. A recurrence of depression, called a relapse, can often be prompted by events or situations like the ones below.
These are all examples of common depression triggers:
Coping with Your Depression Triggers
Genes’ Effect On Mood And Depression
Every part of your body, including your brain, is controlled by genes. Genes make proteins that are involved in biological processes. Throughout life, different genes turn on and off, so that in the best case they make the right proteins at the right time. But if the genes get it wrong, they can alter your biology in a way that results in your mood becoming unstable. In a person who is genetically vulnerable to depression, any stress can then push this system off balance.
Mood is affected by dozens of genes, and as our genetic endowments differ, so do our depressions. The hope is that as researchers pinpoint the genes involved in mood disorders and better understand their functions, depression treatment can become more individualized and more successful. Patients would receive the best medication for their type of depression.
Another goal of gene research, of course, is to understand how, exactly, biology makes certain people vulnerable to depression. For example, several genes influence the stress response, leaving us more or less likely to become depressed in response to trouble.
The evidence for other types of depression is more subtle, but it is real. A person who has a first-degree relative who suffered major depression has an increase in risk for the condition of 1.5% to 3% over normal.
Onset Of Depression More Complex Than A Brain Chemical Imbalance
It’s often said that depression results from a chemical imbalance, but that figure of speech doesn’t capture how complex the disease is. Research suggests that depression doesn’t spring from simply having too much or too little of certain brain chemicals. Rather, there are many possible causes of depression, including faulty mood regulation by the brain, genetic vulnerability, stressful life events, medications, and medical problems. It’s believed that several of these forces interact to bring on depression.
To be sure, chemicals are involved in this process, but it is not a simple matter of one chemical being too low and another too high. Rather, many chemicals are involved, working both inside and outside nerve cells. There are millions, even billions, of chemical reactions that make up the dynamic system that is responsible for your mood, perceptions, and how you experience life.
With this level of complexity, you can see how two people might have similar symptoms of depression, but the problem on the inside, and therefore what treatments will work best, may be entirely different.
What follows is an overview of the current understanding of the major factors believed to play a role in the causes of depression.
Fatigue Or Consistent Lower Energy Levels
Fatigue is a common symptom of depression. Occasionally we all experience lower energy levels and can feel sluggish in the morning, hoping to stay in bed and watch TV instead of going to work.
While we often believe exhaustion stems from stress, depression can also cause fatigue. However, unlike everyday fatigue, depression-related fatigue can also cause concentration problems, feelings of irritability, and apathy.
Dr. Maurizio Fava , Director of the Clinical Research Program at Bostons Massachusetts General Hospital, points out that depressed individuals often experience nonrestorative sleep, meaning that they feel sluggish even after getting a full night of rest.
However, because many physical illnesses, like infections and viruses, can also cause fatigue, it can be challenging to discern whether or not the exhaustion is related to depression.
One way to tell: While everyday fatigue is a sign of this mental illness, other symptoms like sadness, feeling hopeless, and anhedonia may also be present when you are depressed.
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Regions That Affect Mood
Increasingly sophisticated forms of brain imaging such as positron emission tomography , single-photon emission computed tomography , and functional magnetic resonance imaging permit a much closer look at the working brain than was possible in the past. An fMRI scan, for example, can track changes that take place when a region of the brain responds during various tasks. A PET or SPECT scan can map the brain by measuring the distribution and density of neurotransmitter receptors in certain areas.
Use of this technology has led to a better understanding of which brain regions regulate mood and how other functions, such as memory, may be affected by depression. Areas that play a significant role in depression are the amygdala, the thalamus, and the hippocampus .
Research shows that the hippocampus is smaller in some depressed people. For example, in one fMRI study published in The Journal of Neuroscience, investigators studied 24 women who had a history of depression. On average, the hippocampus was 9% to 13% smaller in depressed women compared with those who were not depressed. The more bouts of depression a woman had, the smaller the hippocampus. Stress, which plays a role in depression, may be a key factor here, since experts believe stress can suppress the production of new neurons in the hippocampus.
General Signs And Symptoms
Not everyone with depression will experience the same symptoms. Symptoms can vary in severity, how often they happen, and how long they last.
If you experience some of the following signs and of depression nearly every day for at least 2 weeks, you may be living with depression:
- feeling sad, anxious, or empty
- feeling hopeless, worthless, and pessimistic
- crying a lot
Males may experience symptoms related to their:
- mood, such as anger, aggressiveness, irritability, anxiousness, or restlessness
- emotional well-being, such as feeling empty, sad, or hopeless
- behavior, such as loss of interest, no longer finding pleasure in favorite activities, feeling tired easily, thoughts of suicide, drinking excessively, using drugs, or engaging in high-risk activities
- sexual interest, such as reduced sexual desire or lack of sexual performance
- cognitive abilities, such as inability to concentrate, difficulty completing tasks, or delayed responses during conversations
- sleep patterns, such as insomnia, restless sleep, excessive sleepiness, or not sleeping through the night
- physical well-being, such as fatigue, pains, headache, or digestive problems
Females may experience symptoms related to their:
Children may experience
Common causes include:
You may successfully manage symptoms with one form of treatment, or you may find that a combination of treatments works best.
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Whats The Difference Between Normal Grief After A Loss And Mdd
When you experience a loss of someone close to you, its normal to grieve and feel down and empty for a period of several weeks or more, but it should get better, says Dr. Murrough. If youre starting to feel worse instead of better as time goes on, thats a red flag. Perhaps, more critically, a typical grief reaction isnt: My life is not worth living anymore. Consider seeking treatment if you or someone experiences this.
Where Can I Go For Help
If you are unsure of where to go for help, ask your family doctor or health care provider. You can also find resources online including the NIMH website at www.nimh.nih.gov/FindHelp, or check with your insurance carrier to find someone who participates in your plan. Hospital doctors can help in an emergency.
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How Is Depression Diagnosed
These days, a routine doctors visit with your general health practitioner may be all it takes to receive a diagnosis. Standard screening tools like the Patient Health Questionnaire a survey of yes, nine items, that physicians use to assess the severity of depressionare becoming widely used in primary care settings to screen for the condition.
In fact, most patients with depression are going to be diagnosed and treated by primary care doctors, not specialists or psychiatrists, says James Murrough, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the Depression and Anxiety Center for Discovery and Treatment at Mount Sinai.
Depression is mainly diagnosed by history and clinical presentations, or a specific pattern of symptoms, says Dr. Murrough, which is to say theres no blood test for MDD. But if you have symptoms like changes in sleep or appetite, your doctor may look into other conditions unrelated to mental health .
The first thing your doctor might do is order blood testsnot to make the diagnosis of depression, but to rule out things that could be masquerading as depression, explains Dr. Murrough. For example, an underactive thyroid can present as low mood and feeling sluggish, and iron deficiency anemia is another reason why some people might have low energy.