Thursday, February 2, 2023

What Chronic Depression Feels Like

Causes Of Chronic Depression

Depression and Chronic Pain | Kati Morton

These are some of the potential causes of chronic depression, according to Dr. Daramus:

  • Chemical imbalances: Imbalances of certain brain chemicals, known as neurotransmitters, can cause chronic depression.
  • Genetics: Depression can be genetic, and you may be more likely to develop it if a biological relative has it. According to the American Psychiatric Association, a person has a 40% chance of developing depression if a first degree relative such as a parent, sibling, or child has it.
  • Trauma, stressors, or life events: Sometimes, depression is the way that someone responds to a traumatic event. It can also happen because of a life event or stressor, such as a bad breakup or a toxic workplace. Some people are more sensitive to these stressors than others.
  • Health conditions:Depression can co-occur along with certain medical conditions such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimers disease, and Parkinsons disease. These are chronic health conditions that may be worsened by chronic depression.
  • Medications: Certain prescription medications can affect the balance of chemicals in the brain and cause depression as a side effect. For instance, some people find that birth control pills or statins bring on depression.
  • Substances: Substances like alcohol, nicotine, and drugs can trigger or worsen depression.

Reasons Depression Makes You Tired

Fatigue can be one of the first symptoms of depression, and one of the most noticeable. Those with depression might find themselves thinking things like Im tired of being tired, or I just want to sleep the day away. Are you wondering why depression makes you tired? Were here to explore several reasons why those with depression might be experiencing this.

The nature of the disease

Depression affects the neurotransmitters in the brain that control how awake and alert individuals feel. In our experience, it is very rare that fatigue is NOT one of the main symptoms of someone suffering from depression. Feeling excessively tired should be a warning sign that there is an imbalance of chemicals in the brain that needs to be addressed by a mental health professional.

Sleeping patterns

Depression can disrupt sleeping patterns at night, causing greater levels of fatigue during the day. It takes depressed people longer to fall asleep as well, which results in them sleeping for less time than their non-depressive counterparts. A good nights rest has many restorative properties for brain function, and when sleep is light, interrupted, or insufficiently long, restorative processes can be interrupted, and even halted. Sufficient rest is a key factor of managing a mental illness.


Fatigue can be a side effect of several antidepressant medications. Talk to your doctor if you feel your medications could be contributing to your fatigue.


What Does Depression Feel Like

Carly Snyder, MD is a reproductive and perinatal psychiatrist who combines traditional psychiatry with integrative medicine-based treatments.

Sadness is something we all experience from time to time. For some, this feeling is temporary and goes away on its own. But for others, this persistent feeling of emptiness, unhappiness, and hopelessness becomes a regular part of their day.

If your mood has changed over the last few weeks and engaging in routine daily tasks is getting more difficult, you may have depression, and you’re not alone.

Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders in the United States. According to data from 2017, it is estimated that 17.3 million adults aged 18 or older in the United States had a least one major depressive episode in the past year.

Depression, a mood disorder that can cause mild to severe symptoms, can affect how you feel, think, and manage daily activities.

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How Does Me/cfs Affect People

ME/CFS affects different people in different ways, some more severely than others. There are four levels of severity of ME/CFS, which give an indication of the level of disability ME/CFS can create:

  • mild: 50% reduction in pre-illness activity
  • moderate: mostly housebound
  • severe: mostly bedridden
  • very severe: totally bedridden and need help with basic activities including nutrition and hydration.

The severity of ME/CFS can vary over time. A person living with ME/CFS could be at one level of severity now, then their disease could either improve or deteriorate over time. For some patients, their disease can worsen significantly with no known cause. Other patients have a fluctuating illness where they have better and worse periods, which last for months or years. It is unclear why this happens.

For most people, ME/CFS is a lifelong disease. Full recovery is rare and estimated at less than 10%. For some people with ME/CFS, as time passes and their disease improves, they will find they can do more, but it is a slow and gradual process. However, this is not the case for everyone. Some people find their disease worsens over time, others may remain somewhat stable. With support and pacing, people can often improve their quality of life.

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The 10 Symptoms Of Depression

What Its Like to Live With Chronic Depression

But what exactly are the symptoms of depression? To diagnose depression, psychotherapists and doctors usually use the ICD-10, a classification system for diseases published by the World Health Organization . In the US a different manual is used, called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders . It works the same way. Both manuals distinguish between so-called core and additional symptoms of depression, which can exhibit themselves in different combinations.

Depression in two different people can look very different because not every depressive episode exhibits the same combination of symptoms. These many individual variations are one of the reasons why depression often goes unrecognized.

There are three core symptoms characteristic of depression:

  • Loss of interest and joy in things
  • Loss of drive, lack of energy

This dejection, very common to depression, can go so far that the mood of those affected by it does not even brighten up with positive events. Attempts of friends and family to comfort or cheer up people with depression often only create more tension and feelings of guilt. This can also burden relationships quite a bit. Some feel like they cant cry anymore, others cry a lot more than usual.

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What Is Chronic Depression

Put simply, chronic depression is an ongoing version of depression. The condition goes by several other names, including persistent depressive disorder, dysthymia or chronic major depression.

Chronic depression was mistaken for a personality disorder in the past, but the difference is that chronic depression is something that can be changed, rather than a permanent pervasive nature.

Its commonly agreed that chronic depression lasts for a minimum of two years. Thats in comparison to normal depression, where symptoms are generally present daily for about two weeks.

Chronic depression symptoms, by contrast, can range from more to less severe on a varying, daily basis, yet they cannot be absent for more than two months in order to be considered chronic.

Chronic depression symptoms typically also include at least two of the following:

  • Poor appetite or overeating

  • According to the NIMH, the causes of depression can be biological, genetic, psychological or environmental.

    Diabetes, poor exercise, a lack of social interactions and low sunlight are all potential contributors.

    Depression symptoms are equally as varied and nebulous.

    Its also perhaps unfair to say normal symptoms, since every persons depression is a little different. It can vary by genderfor example, men exhibit irritability, anger and exhaustion.

    Sleep and motivation problems can also pop up during depression.

    Its also not uncommon for a depressed person to experiences cramps, headaches or stomach issues.

    It Affects Your Friendships Deeplyfor Better And Worse

    Depression is a tough illness to face. Many people who suffer from it will lose friends along the way. However, sometimes its also a time when someone really special steps forward, and we develop a lifelong friendship with them:

    Its hard to be friends with someone whos depressed. I get that. Most of my friends kind of drifted away.

    Before I was depressed I had so many friends. Afterwards, I had just one true friend. But one true friend is worth more than a thousand friends who drop away when things get hard.

    I hope this helps you understand or explain this difficult illness just a little better. Youre a good friend for caring enough to read this far. Good luck.

    These quotes all come from people who are currently suffering from or have recovered from depression and who have shared their experiences with Dr Pooky Knightsmith. All people quoted have given their permission for their words to be shared anonymously.

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    Depression And Physical Health

    Depression can manifest with physical symptoms. People with depression may experience appetite changes which can cause weight loss or weight gain that is significant. Excessive weight gain can in turn be associated with diabetes and other heart diseases, while excessive weight loss can be harmful to the heart and cause fatigue. People with depression may also experience chronic pain that is unexplained by other diagnoses.

    Individuals with depression who already have other chronic illnesses might find that their condition worsens. Depression may cause them to struggle with their treatment plan for their chronic illness. They might miss doctors appointments and have a general disinterest in maintaining their wellness.

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    Your Thoughts And Feelings Affect Everything You Do

    What It’s Like To Live With Chronic Anxiety

    Not feeling right can cause you to think and act differently and this can affect all aspects of your life, sometimes in the most unexpected ways.

    When somethings not right you could experience it in different ways. You might get sick or just feel generally run-down. You may feel like youre not your usual self â you dont want to be around anyone when usually you love company. You may cry a lot for no apparent reason or easily lose your temper, or even wonder what your life is all about.

    Getting an overall picture of yourself helps to make sense of whats happening in your life, and what can help you feel better. One way to do that is to think about whats happening in different aspects of your life your body , your spirit , your social circle and your mind .

    • Physical : Thinking about your tinana means focusing on how you look after and care for your body.
    • Mental : Thinking about hinengaro means focusing on emotions and how you communicate, think and feel.
    • Social : Thinking about whnau means focusing on the relationships you have with people who support you. Their support might be physical, cultural or emotional.
    • Spiritual : Thinking about wairua means focusing on things that give your life meaning. That might mean your religion. It could also mean thinking about your links with the environment , your heritage, and your connections to ancestors .

    Know and understand those unseen things that can cause worry, anxiety and fear â Mori proverb.

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    Psychotic Depression Vs Major Depression

    MDD, or clinical depression, can affect your mood, behavior, everyday life, and physical health.

    An episode of major depression typically involves:

    • a persistent low mood or a loss of interest in everyday life for at least 2 weeks
    • four or more other symptoms of depression

    Psychosis isnt included in the nine main symptoms of depression, and many people living with MDD never experience psychosis.

    The most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition classifies the two separately, listing depression with features of psychosis as Other Specified Depressive Disorder.

    Depression is always serious. Still, experts tend to consider MDD with psychosis more serious than depression without psychosis because its more likely to involve:

    Psychosis involves a break or disconnect from reality, so people experiencing it arent necessarily aware of their symptoms, which can include:

    • hallucinations, or seeing, hearing, and feeling things that arent real
    • delusions, or believing things that arent true
    • psychomotor impairment, or slowed thoughts, movements, and feelings
    • a state of stupor, where youre unable to move, speak, or respond to your environment

    Psychotic hallucinations and delusions might involve:

    Experts separate MDD with features of psychosis into two categories:

    Just Occasionally You Have Happy Moments When Its All Okay

    People who struggle with depression sometimes have minutes, hours, or days when things feel real again and they can see a glimpse of what it feels like not to be depressed.

    Every now and then the clouds would clear, and it was like I was alive again. It never lasted long. At first I would just feel so low knowing it would pass, but after a time I learned to grab these moments of respite and do all my living whilst they were with me.

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    Some Common Causes Of Depression

    Researchers have particularly been interested in investigating whether depression is an inherited condition. A major theory is that certain genetic changes make neurotransmitters ineffective or scarce.

    The other major component is environmental triggers which may make a person who is genetically predisposed to depression more likely to develop it. Certain factors that make it more likely a person will experience clinical depression include:

    • Experiencing a traumatic event or major life change
    • Financial troubles
    • Being very ill or injured , needing to have surgery or undergo medical treatment, or having to manage a chronic and/or progressive health condition
    • Caring for a loved one who has a major illness, injury, or disability
    • Taking certain medications that can cause symptoms associated with depression
    • Using illegal drugs and/or misusing alcohol

    If you have experienced a form of depression before, you may be more likely to experience it again or develop another form in response to certain stressors or life changes .

    Electroconvulsive Therapy Electric Shock Treatment

    The effects of depression on the body and physical health

    If you have severe depression and other treatments, like medication, haven’t worked, ECT might be recommended for you.

    When receiving ECT, you will be given an anaesthetic and medication that relaxes your muscles to begin with. Electrodes will be placed on your head that give an electrical “shock” to your brain.

    ECT is given over a series of sessions, normally twice a week for three to six weeks.

    ECT can cause side effects including nausea, headaches, aches in the muscles and memory problems.

    Most people find that ECT is good for relieving severe depression, but the beneficial effects tend to wear off when several months have passed.

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    Signs & Symptoms Of Depression

    Depression can have many signs and symptoms. There are also varying effects of depression on the brain. Some may even overlap across the different types of depression. They can also range from mild depression and seasonal affective disorder to severe depression which can be intrusive on your life.

    Some of the common symptoms of severe depression can include:

    Get Specialist Care When You Need It

    Visit your doctor every few months to help track your symptoms and check for any need to change your treatment.

    Get specialized care if you need it. For example:

    • A rehabilitation specialist can help you treat pain and improve your ability to do your daily tasks.
    • A pain management specialist can offer a number of pain treatments.
    • There are some specialists who work with experimental treatments such as antiviral medicines.

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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.

    Personal Factors That Can Lead To Depression

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    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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