Depression: Recognizing Unusual Symptoms
One reason depression can be hard to identify is that its signs can vary widely from person to person and sometimes be masked by atypical symptoms. For example, some people who are depressed may show it by acting disgruntled, resentful, or irritable. In fact, aggression including outright acts of violence can be indicative of hidden depression, according to a February 28, 2017, report in Psychiatric Times. Depression masquerading as anger may seem surprising at first, but not when you consider that several underlying factors, including alcohol or substance abuse and childhood trauma, have been linked to both.
Similarly, although its not clear why, a person who experiences anxiety is at high risk for developing depression, and vice versa. The National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that as many as 60 percent of people with anxiety will also have symptoms of depression the same goes for people with depression having . Experts say there is often a genetic predisposition for these co-occurring disorders.
Depression may also manifest psychosomatically, meaning that instead of presenting first and foremost as a mood disorder, the dominant symptom may be things like vague aches, dizziness, headaches, , or , according to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. Complicating matters is that its often hard to know whether depression is causing the physical symptoms, or if the physical symptoms are causing depression.
The Benefits Of Friendships
While developing and maintaining friendships takes time and effort, healthy friendships can:
Improve your mood. Spending time with happy and positive friends can elevate your mood and boost your outlook.
Help you to reach your goals. Whether youre trying to get fit, give up smoking, or otherwise improve your life, encouragement from a friend can really boost your willpower and increase your chances of success.
Reduce your stress and depression. Having an active social life can bolster your immune system and help reduce isolation, a major contributing factor to depression.
Support you through tough times. Even if its just having someone to share your problems with, friends can help you cope with serious illness, the loss of a job or loved one, the breakup of a relationship, or any other challenges in life.
Support you as you age. As you age, retirement, illness, and the death of loved ones can often leave you isolated. Knowing there are people you can turn to for company and support can provide purpose as you age and serve as a buffer against depression, disability, hardship and loss.
Boost your self-worth. Friendship is a two-way street, and the give side of the give-and-take contributes to your own sense of self-worth. Being there for your friends makes you feel needed and adds purpose to your life.
Why online friends arent enough
You Can Play A Role In Research By Joining A Clinical Trial
Clinical trials are research studies that look at new ways to prevent, detect, or treat diseases and conditions. The goal of clinical trials is to determine if a new test or treatment works and is safe. Although individuals may benefit from being part of a clinical trial, participants should be aware that the primary purpose of a clinical trial is to gain new scientific knowledge so that others may be better helped in the future.
In addition to volunteer research opportunities for the patient groups listed above, research opportunities for healthy volunteers are also available. Healthy volunteers play a critical role in our studies.
For more information about clinical research and how to find clinical trials being conducted around the country, visit NIMH’s clinical trials webpage.
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Create A Peace Corner
A peace corner is easy to set up and can be a place to go in your own home that relaxes you when you need a break. Its purpose is to provide a peaceful zone filled with things that bring you positivity.
Inspired by the Montessori method of teaching, peace corners arent just for kids they can be whatever you want them to be.
Find an area of your home you can fill with comforting items such as plants, stress balls, soft pillows, a yoga mat, candles, and books. You can spend time there each day or just when youre having a hard time managing your depression symptoms.
boost levels of serotonin , a neurotransmitter in the brain that regulates mood. If your serotonin levels arent where they should be, you can experience symptoms of depression.
Be sure to check in with a mental health professional about whether a lightbox is suitable for you.
How Is Depression Treated
Depression treatment typically involves medication, psychotherapy, or both. If these treatments do not reduce symptoms, brain stimulation therapy may be another treatment option. In milder cases of depression, treatment might begin with psychotherapy alone, and medication added if the individual continues to experience symptoms. For moderate or severe depression, many mental health professionals recommend a combination of medication and therapy at the start of treatment.
Choosing the right treatment plan should be based on a persons individual needs and medical situation under a providers care. It may take some trial and error to find the treatment that works best for you. You can learn more about the different types of treatment, including psychotherapy, medication, and brain stimulation therapies on the NIMH’s depression webpage. For information on finding a mental health professional and questions to ask when considering therapy, visit NIMHs psychotherapies webpage.
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Small Ways To Feel Better When You’re Depressed
Depression is more complicated than most people think. Its not just about being sad and it certainly isnt about being lazy. But those are common misconceptions that sometimes prevent people from seeking treatment and getting the help they need to feel better.
Even when youre experiencing depression, it can be tough to identify how youre feeling and it can be hard to take steps to improve your mood and outlook in the moment.
Thats why we put together this articleto help you on your journey in coping with your symptoms. A better understanding of how youre feeling and what action you can take can empower you to live your best life even when youre feeling depressed.
Online Therapy Support For Depression
Depression is one of the most common, yet perhaps most devastating, mental health issues in the United States today. In fact, close to 16 million adults and 3 million adolescents suffer from depression across the country every single day.
Depression can be debilitating. While the statistics are alarming and the symptoms often overwhelming, therapy can be a very helpful form of support. Many people are turning to online therapy as an option because of the accessibility, affordability, and versatility.
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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.
Reach Out To Someone Youre Comfortable Talking To And Talk About Whatever You Feel Like Whether Thats How Youre Feeling Or Something You Saw On Twitter
Strong relationships are one of the best ways to help you feel better. Connecting with a friend or family member can provide a natural boost and let you find a reliable source of support and encouragement.
Symptoms that last two weeks or more may be an indication you have depression, anxiety, or both. Severe symptoms may include:
- problems with sleep
- sudden loss of interest
- feelings of worthlessness or helplessness
If youre not feeling like yourself and want help understanding, make an appointment to see your doctor. Its important to be open and honest so they can fully understand whats happening and get a clear picture of what youve been feeling.
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Which Types Of Talk Therapy Work Best For Depression
The Society of Clinical Psychology rates several types of psychotherapy as highly effective :
- Behavioral activation therapy The aim of this type of therapy is to reverse the downward spiral of depression by encouraging you to seek out experiences and activities that give you joy.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy CBT focuses on changing specific negative thought patterns so that you are able to better respond to challenging and stressful situations.
- Interpersonal therapy This very structured, time-limited form of therapy focuses on identifying and improving problematic personal relationships and circumstances directly related to your current depressive mood.
- Problem-solving therapy This therapy is a form CBT that teaches take-charge skills that help you solve the real-life problems and stressors, big and small, that contribute to depression.
- Self-management/self-control therapy This type of behavioral therapy trains you to lessen your negative reactions to events and reduce your self-punishing behaviors and thoughts.
The Risk Of Suicide Is Real
What to do in a crisis situation
If you believe your loved one is at an immediate risk for suicide, do NOT leave them alone.
In the U.S., dial 911 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.
In other countries, call your countrys emergency services number or visit IASP to find a suicide prevention helpline.
It may be hard to believe that the person you know and love would ever consider something as drastic as suicide, but a depressed person may not see any other way out. Depression clouds judgment and distorts thinking, causing a normally rational person to believe that death is the only way to end the pain theyre feeling.
Since suicide is a very real danger when someone is depressed, its important to know the warning signs:
- Talking about suicide, dying, or harming oneself a preoccupation with death
- Expressing feelings of hopelessness or self-hate
- Acting in dangerous or self-destructive ways
- Getting affairs in order and saying goodbye
- Seeking out pills, weapons, or other lethal objects
- A sudden sense of calm after depression
If you think a friend or family member might be considering suicide, dont wait, talk to them about your concerns. Many people feel uncomfortable bringing up the topic but it is one of the best things you can do for someone who is thinking about suicide. Talking openly about suicidal thoughts and feelings can save a persons life, so speak up if youre concerned and seek professional help immediately!
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You Can Move Forward In The Face Of Your Depression
Some people believe that having depression makes them weak or broken. The truth is that every day they get out of bed, go to work, or move forward while living with depression is proof of their ability to keep going.
Depression can feel like a weight on your chest. For some people, it can be a disability.
However, every day that someone keeps going while theyre living with depression is proof they can keep going.
Free Online Therapy Services: What To Watch Out For
As mentioned above, free online therapy services are unlikely to include sessions or interactions with a licensed therapist. Reputable free online therapy resources will provide you with litterature, workbooks, and even interactive tools for addressing common mental health difficulties like depression and anxiety. A quick Google search can help you uncover many of these.
Other free online therapy resources include communities with volunteer listeners. Such platforms can be helpful when you need to speak to somebody, but be aware that volunteers, although they will have received some training, are typically not licensed therapists. Speaking to a licensed therapist will cost extra.
Platforms that claim to offer free online therapy from licensed therapists should be subjected to intense scrutiny. As is often the case, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. And when it comes to your mental health, you dont want to mess around with disreputable platforms or individuals. If youre unsure whether online therapy is right for you, some services offer a free trial. If you simply cant afford it, youre better off using self-guided tools built by licensed therapists, or else engaging in community support, rather than trusting in a questionable free online therapy service.
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Can Depression Be A Symptom Of Other Mental Health Problems
Depression can be a part of several mental health problems, such as:
If feelings of low mood or suicidal thoughts are the reason you first speak to your doctor about your mental health, your GP might offer you treatment for depression without realising that you are also experiencing other symptoms.
If you think you’re experiencing other symptoms, you can talk to your doctor about this to make sure you’re getting the right treatment to help you. See our pages on seeking help for a mental health problem for information on how to make sure your voice is heard, and what you can do if you’re not happy with your doctor.
Personal Factors That Can Lead To Depression
Personal factors that can lead to a risk of depression include:
- family history depression can run in families and some people will be at an increased genetic risk. However, this doesnt mean that a person will automatically experience depression if a parent or close relative has had the condition.
- personality some people may be more at risk because of their personality, particularly if they tend to worry a lot, have low self-esteem, are perfectionists, are sensitive to personal criticism, or are self-critical and negative
- serious medical conditions these can trigger depression in two ways. Serious conditions can bring about depression directly or can contribute to depression through the associated stress and worry, especially if it involves long-term management of a condition or chronic pain
- drug and alcohol use can both lead to and result from depression. Many people with depression also have drug and alcohol problems.
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Volunteer To Help Others And Yourself
For a moment let us shift our mental focus from our needs and sad thoughts to the needs of others . Building a social connection is definitely one of the best things to do when you feel lonely and topping it with acts of giving back to your community just makes it even better. Just by doing something selfless on its own is a great way to deal with loneliness.
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How To Get Started
To get started, first decide on an online counseling service. You can use our chart above to compare the best online therapy services based on your preferences. Here are a few factors to keep in mind:
- Whats the cost? Decide first on a budget, and then compare plans to find one that fits. Also consider whats included: do you get unlimited text messages? Free online therapy resources? Do video calls cost extra? Will your insurance cover any part of it, or are you eligible for financial aid?
- Does it have the features you want? Online counseling apps vary. Some have extra features like journaling, written resources and other free online therapy tools.
- How is your privacy protected? Be aware that online counselling services are less tightly regulated than other telehealth solutions. Some online counseling apps share information with Facebook and Google. That may be especially true when accessing free therapy online, but some paid apps also do this. Be sure to read the fine print on what data is being shared and with whom.
- How do you interact with your therapist? Do you prefer using your computer or smartphone? Would you rather text with your therapist, or do you prefer a video call? Would you rather send longer messages and wait for a response, like email, or benefit from instant chat?
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Encourage Them To Think About What They Enjoy Doing
Take a step-by-step approach towards helping them do these activities when they feel able to. This could be things like exercising or playing sport, listening to music, doing something creative like colouring or drawing, watching a favourite film, reading a favourite book or going for a walk with you.
Should You Worry About Antidepressant Withdrawal
No, but its easy to see why some people might think so, because of a medical condition called antidepressant discontinuation syndrome , which can occur if you abruptly stop taking medication rather than tapering off as is generally advised. ADS is marked by a wide range of responses, including but not limited to flu-like symptoms, insomnia, worsening mood, and stomach distress, according to a March 11, 2019, report in Psychiatric Times.
Current estimates are that about 20 percent of patients whove taken an antidepressant for at least a month will experience ADS symptoms if they abruptly stop their medication instead of lowering their dose gradually. Tapering under the care of a doctor can prevent ADS by allowing the brain to adjust to changes in neurotransmitter levels.
More to the point, while you should slowly stop your antidepressant with the help of your doctor, antidepressants do not cause dependence and withdrawal like other substances. Unlike substances that are known to cause addiction, such as alcohol, , and , people don’t crave antidepressants. You dont get high from them, and they arent intentionally or compulsively overused. Serious reactions like the seizures and agitation that can follow sudden withdrawal from addictive substances are unheard of when these antidepressants are tapered gradually, note the authors of the Psychiatric Times report.
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