The Lived Experience Of Depression
A person who is in good physical health, is employed, has a safe home to live in, enough money to care for themselves and their family, supportive friends, and hobbies may struggle to comprehend why they feel persistently sad, angry, or irritable.
In the absence of a clear trigger such as the death of a loved one, a divorce, or the loss of a job, they may feel that it doesnt make sense for them to feel depressed.
Feeling Depressed Or Suffering From Depression
We often get mixed up between low mood and unhappiness and depression. The two things are very different. Depression isnt about feeling unhappy, its feeling youll never be happy again, explains Colin Grange, Psychologist and Clinical Director of Lifeworks.
If youre feeling low, is it starting to interfere with your day to day life? Are you not doing things that you used to do? Are you losing motivation in and enjoyment of life? Are you starting to not enjoy your hobbies? Is everything becoming an effort?
People suffering from clinical depression often experience a range of symptoms both physical and emotional which can interfere with day to day life. Discovering whether you are suffering from one or more of these symptoms could be an important step towards getting the help you need.
Quiz: Am I depressed?
Misconception: Antidepressants Need To Be Taken For The Rest Of A Persons Life
Truth: for most people taking antidepressants for a first-time episode of depression, there is only a need to take them continuously for six to nine months, and the period is never for the entire lifetime.
Depression is under control, one needs to work with their doctor to figure out when they can stop the antidepressant course which usually begins by decreasing the dose gradually.
One should make sure to never just stop them suddenly, on their own, if they feel the symptoms reducing, as doing this can lead to major symptoms.
Suddenly stopping antibiotics can lead to problems like headaches, dizziness, and nausea and even make the depression return.
How Can I Help The Doctor Make A Proper Diagnosis
Before your appointment, write down your concerns about depression and specific symptoms of depression you might have. Itâs also helpful to get an in-depth family history from relatives before meeting with your doctor. This information can help the doctor make an accurate diagnosis and ensure effective treatment. Before your visit, think about and write down:
- Your mental and physical health concerns
- Symptoms you’ve noticed
- Causes of stress in your life
- Questions you have about depression and depression medications
Who Is At Risk For Depression
Depression can affect anyone, no matter their age, gender or circumstances. About 16 million Americans experience depression each year.
Women may experience depression more often than men. And your genetics or other health conditions can increase the likelihood that youll have at least one depressive episode in your lifetime.
Read Also: Free Online Support Groups For Depression
It Can Help You Navigate Some Big Life Choices
For some, therapy is a life-long journey. For others, therapy serves as a guide through some tough waters. Maybe you just need someone to help you weigh a decision about work, a relationship, or your health. Having an empathetic ear in these times can only help.
“We all experience issues at some point in our lives, whether it be a bad breakup, a stressful work situation, or family difficulties,” Sal Raichbach, a licensed social worker of the Ambrosia Treatment Center, told INSIDER. “Talking to someone who is trained in handling emotions and working out problems can be extremely beneficial in these scenarios.”
Can You Have Mania Without Depression In Bipolar
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Recommended Reading: Number One Cause Of Depression
How Is Depression Diagnosed
To be diagnosed with depression, an individual must have five depression symptoms every day, nearly all day, for at least 2 weeks. One of the symptoms must be a depressed mood or a loss of interest or pleasure in almost all activities. Children and adolescents may be irritable rather than sad.
If you think you may have depression, talk to your health care provider. Primary care providers routinely diagnose and treat depression and refer individuals to mental health professionals, such as psychologists or psychiatrists.
During the visit, your provider may ask when your symptoms began, how long they last, how often they occur, and if they keep you from going out or doing your usual activities. It may help to make some notes about your symptoms before your visit. Certain medications and some medical conditions, such as viruses or a thyroid disorder, can cause the same depression symptoms. Your provider can rule out these possibilities by doing a physical exam, interview, and lab tests.
Read NIMHs Tips for Talking With Your Health Care Provider to help prepare for and get the most out of your visit. For additional resources, visit the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality website.
Are There Physical Signs Of Depression
Yes. In fact, a great many people with depression come to their doctor first with only physical issues. You might notice:
- Back pain
- Gut problems
- Constant tiredness
- Sleep problems
- Slowing of physical movement and thinking
You might notice these symptoms and signs even before you notice the mental health symptoms of depression, or you might notice them at the same time. Your doctor can help you figure out the source of your symptoms.
Recommended Reading: Mood Tracker App For Depression
Is Depression Actually A Unique State Of Consciousness
How Recognizing Depression Helps
Coming to see our depression for what it is can be tremendously helpful, even life-changing, in at least two ways.
First, depression can affect all areas of our life, making us feel like everything is falling apart: We’re not sleeping well, we’re irritable, our motivation is gone, nothing is fun anymore, and so forth. Putting these many struggles under a single umbrella makes them much more manageable. Rather than having 15 problems, we have one, and obviously it’s easier to tackle a single problem than 15.
Second, once we’ve named it, we know how to treat it. Several “talk therapies” have strong research evidence for alleviating depression. For example, a few weeks of cognitive behavioral therapy generally has a major effect on depression symptoms. There are also medications that are used to treat depression, some of which can be as effective as the best psychotherapies.
For many people, depression can be managed without professional assistance, especially if the depression falls in the mild to moderate range, and if there’s a low risk for self-harm. I was able to manage my own depression through a combination of self-help, strong support from the people closest to me, and getting involved in a triathlon.
However we combat depression, we dont have to sufferhelp is available. And like anything else, knowing what were dealing with is half the battle.
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Causes And Treatments Of Depression
Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Depression can have many causes, all of which are complex and can be difficult to understand. In some cases, feelings of depression can be clearly connected to an experience in someones life, such as a tragic loss or a violent event. Other people may be aware they have a family history of mental illness and, as a result, may not be caught off guard by a diagnosis of depression.
However, some people become depressed and dont know why. They may feel they do not have a reason to be depressedespecially if they perceive their life as being good or easy compared to others.
The pressure to explain or justify how they feel can make depression worse and may prevent people from getting necessary treatment.
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Improving Your Perspective Feels Impossible
Depression does not allow for conversation around change, says Laura Federico, a licensed clinical psychologist. It can feel nearly impossible to shift thought patterns, improve motivation, or create a new perspective when coping with depression.
Federico adds that these feelings are unlike sadness, which though painful, disruptive, and difficult, ultimately consistent with our sense of self, and manageable.
Misconception: Antidepressants Make You A Zombie And Change Your Personality Forever
Truth: No, antidepressants, when taken correctly, do not turn you into a zombie or alter your personality.
They can however help you feel like yourself again and help you get back to your previous level of functioning.
But it is also important to remember that someone when you take antidepressants without depression, it does not just miraculously make you happier, as it is not a happy pill or magic drug.
It works on people with depression due to their changed brain chemistry.
Another common fear is that people start being apathetic, but people rarely experience apathy or loss of emotions while taking antidepressants, in reality.
Even if this does happen to someone, they can just look into lowering the dose or switching to a different antidepressant.
What Are The Symptoms Of Depression
Depression can affect your emotions, mind and body. Depression symptoms include:
- Feeling very sad, hopeless or worried.
- Not enjoying things that used to give you joy.
- Being easily irritated or frustrated.
- Eating too much or too little.
- Changes in how much you sleep.
- Having a difficult time concentrating or remembering things.
- Experiencing physical problems like headache, stomachache or sexual dysfunction.
- Thinking about hurting or killing yourself.
If you or someone you know has thoughts of hurting themselves, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800.273.8255. This national network of local crisis centers provides free, private emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Can Depression Be Prevented
You can help prevent depression by getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet and practicing regular self-care activities such as exercise, meditation and yoga.
If youve had depression before, you may be more likely to experience it again. If you have depression symptoms, get help. Care can help you feel better sooner.
Recommended Reading: Are Depression And Anxiety Mental Illnesses
Am I Depressed Or Just Sad How To Know When To Seek Treatment
When I was diagnosed with major depression at 22, I was too deep within the fog of the illness to much care that finally, after years of struggling, I had an answer as to why I felt so impenetrably bad, and that with treatment, I could improve.
Later, once I began therapy and started taking antidepressants, I began to feel better, which resulted both in relief and a strange sort of guilt. I was grateful to be improving, surely, but remorseful that for years I didnt seek medical help and that I had discounted even severe symptoms as the natural effects of just being in a rut, or of being stressed out.
That I waited so long to take action is not unusual, and my delay was likely a result of both misinformation and lack of information altogether.
According to recent studies, about 1 in 5 Americans meet criteria for a diagnosis of major depressive disorder, says Erlanger A. Turner, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and assistant professor of psychology at the University of Houston-Downtown. However, many people dont seek help either due to stigma or lack of information about treatment.
To help, mental experts explain the symptoms of depression to help you determine if you or a loved one may need to be assessed for a depressive disorder.
Alcohol Tobacco And Other Drugs
Misusing alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs can have both immediate and long-term health effects.
The misuse and abuse of alcohol, tobacco, illicit drugs, and prescription medications affect the health and well-being of millions of Americans. SAMHSAs 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports that approximately 19.3 million people aged 18 or older had a substance use disorder in the past year.
Your Thoughts Are Black
During these weeks your mind is likely occupied by what Kita S. Curry, Ph.D, CEO of Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services describes as persistent thoughts of failure, hopelessness or shame, and thinking in black-and-white.
Types of thoughts you may experience, according to Curry: No one has ever loved me its always been this way it will never get better! Thats when you know youre probably depressed.
This sense of hopelessness can be so pervasive you may find yourself unable to feel joy, even when great things happen.
At one point, I knew I was feeling blue, but when I wasnt excited that I was a finalist in a book contest, I realized I was depressed, says Curry.
It Can Help You Express Yourself In A Healthy Way
Communication, especially with people you’re close to, is not always an easy skill to master. And even people who don’t consider themselves to be particularly anxious can struggle in this area.
Therapy is a great setting to express yourself freely, and then learn the skills to turn those raw thoughts into effective communication.
“The person is able to communicate in a healthy way and know the intentions behind the communication to increase the chances of the other party understanding,” Chris Kernes, a therapist and co-founder of the on-demand talk-therapy app LARKR,told INSIDER.
Recommended Reading: When Do People Get Depression
Depression Without Sadness: Alternative Presentations Of Depression In Late Life
JOSEPH J. GALLO, M.D., M.P.H., University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
PETER V. RABINS, M.D., M.P.H., Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland
Am Fam Physician. 1999 Sep 1 60:820-826.
Older adults often deny feeling sad while exhibiting other characteristics of depression. Elderly patients with depression who do not present with sadness often have unexplained somatic complaints and exhibit a sense of hopelessness. Anxiety and anhedonia are also encountered frequently. Other features that may indicate underlying depression include slowness of movement and lack of interest in personal care. A screening device, such as the Center for Epidemiologic StudiesDepression Scale, Revised , may identify depression in suspicious cases. When this condition is identified, treatment should generally include the use of an antidepressant medication, usually a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor.
When I was first aware that I had been laid low by the disease, I felt a need, among other things, to register a strong protest against the word, depression.
William Styron, Darkness Visible1
Criteria for Major Depressive Episode
A. Five of the following symptoms have been present during the same 2-week period and represent a change from previous functioning at least one of the symptoms is either depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure.
Criteria for Major Depressive Episode
Check Off Any Of These Heres How To Find Care And What To Expect
If you or a loved one is exhibiting any of these symptoms, talking with a mental health expert the next step.
One of the quickest ways to find a mental health provider is by visiting the state psychological associations website, says Turner. Most psychological associations offer a directory to look for services. If youre in a crisis, you can always visit the emergency room and they will provide immediate care and possible referral sources. If you have time to do extensive research, searching the internet for reputable providers is helpful. The American Psychological Association and SAMHSA offer treatment locators. Once you are able to seek out services, they can evaluate you for the appropriate diagnosis.
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Does Depression Look The Same In Everyone
Depression can affect people differently, depending on their age.
Children with depression may be anxious, cranky, pretend to be sick, refuse to go to school, cling to a parent, or worry that a parent may die.
Older children and teens with depression may get into trouble at school, sulk, be easily frustrated feel restless, or have low self-esteem. They also may have other disorders, such as anxiety and eating disorders, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or substance use disorder. Older children and teens are more likely to experience excessive sleepiness and increased appetite . In adolescence, females begin to experience depression more often than males, likely due to the biological, life cycle, and hormonal factors unique to women.
Younger adults with depression are more likely to be irritable, complain of weight gain and hypersomnia, and have a negative view of life and the future. They often have other disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder, social phobia, panic disorder, and substance use disorders.
Middle-aged adults with depression may have more depressive episodes, decreased libido, middle-of-the-night insomnia, or early morning awakening. They also may more frequently report having gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea or constipation.
It Can Allow You To Build Better Relationships
If you have relationships in your life that you’d like to see improved, deepened, or altered, therapy is a great place to get the skills to do so.
“The person receiving therapy is able to build trust, appropriate transparency and set boundaries in all the relationships in their lives,” Kernes told INSIDER.
When Should You Get Help
On the other side of the spectrum, there are people that I know that are extremely depressed but refuse to get help. If you have depression, your life is completely turned upside down for absolutely no reason you could be at a point where things are perfect from the outside, but it feels like youre walking around with a cloud over your head. Every day you keep thinking to your self, Why am I sad?, Why do I feel like I could break down and cry at any point?, Is this normal?, or Is something wrong with me?If your sadness is getting to the point that it’s affecting your work, relationships, sleep, or you feel suicidal, you need to get help–try not to self-diagnose.