What Is A Depressive Episode
A major depressive episode is a period of time when you feel depressed or lose interest in things you generally enjoy. You feel sad, have low energy, lose interest in things you care about, and there could be changes to your sleep patterns.
These experiences are not typical for you. It arises and stays for a period of time and then goes away. But it can happen again and again. When you have one or more depressive episodes, it falls under the overarching diagnosis of major depressive disorder.
What Are The Symptoms Of Depression And How Is It Diagnosed
The NHS recommends that you should see your GP if you experience symptoms of depression for most of the day, every day, for more than 2 weeks.
Doctors make decisions about diagnosis based on manuals. The manual used by NHS doctors is the International Classification of Diseases .
When you see a doctor they will look for the symptoms that are set out in the ICD-10 guidance. You do not have to have all of these to be diagnosed with depression. You might have just experience some of them.
Some symptoms of depression are:
- low mood, feeling sad, irritable or angry,
- having less energy to do certain things,
- losing interest or enjoyment in activities you used to enjoy,
- reduced concentration,
You may also find that with low mood you:
- feel less pleasure from things,
- feel more agitated,
- find your thoughts and movements slow down, and
- have thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
Your doctor should also ask about any possible causes of depression. For example, they may want to find out if youve experienced anything traumatic recently which could be making you feel this way.
There are no physical tests for depression. But the doctors may do some tests to check if you have any physical problems. For example, an underactive thyroid can cause depression.
On the NHS website, they have a self-assessment test which can help you to assess whether you are living with depression: www.nhs.uk/mental-health/conditions/clinical-depression/overview/
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.
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What Does Severe Depression Feel Like
Severe depression is classified as having the symptoms of mild to moderate depression, but the symptoms are severe and noticeable, even to your loved ones.
Episodes of major depression last an average of six months or longer. Sometimes severe depression can go away after a while, but it can also be recurrent for some people.
Diagnosis is especially crucial in severe depression, and it may even be time-sensitive.
Major forms of depression may also cause:
- suicidal thoughts or behaviors
Severe depression requires medical treatment as soon as possible. Your doctor will likely recommend an SSRI and some form of talk therapy.
If youre experiencing suicidal thoughts or behaviors, you should seek immediate medical attention. Call your local emergency services or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 right away.
Who Does Bipolar Disorder Affect
Bipolar disorder can affect anyone. The average age of onset is 25 years, but, more rarely, it can start as early as early childhood or as late as in your 40s or 50s.
Although bipolar disorder affects people assigned female at birth and people assigned male at birth in equal numbers, the condition tends to affect them differently.
People AFAB with bipolar disorder may switch moods more quickly. When people with bipolar disorder experience four or more manic or depressive episodes in a year, this is called rapid cycling. Varying levels of sex hormones and thyroid hormones, together with the tendency for people AFAB to be prescribed antidepressants, may contribute to the more rapid cycling in this population.
People AFAB with bipolar disorder may also experience more periods of depression than people AMAB.
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What Does Bipolar Depression Feel Like In Bipolar I And Ii
What does bipolar depression feel like? That depends on who you ask. Bipolar depression feels different from regular depression because it is accompanied by periods of mania or hypomania.
Like many other mental and physical health conditions, bipolar disorder exists on a scale. We all experience periods of low moods and times where we feel more energetic and elevated, but in people with bipolar disorder, the two ends of the scale are more extreme. Episodes of depression and mania can be triggered, or else they can occur with no apparent cause.
There are three main types of bipolar disorder, and depression symptoms vary between diagnoses.
What Is Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder is a lifelong mood disorder and mental health condition that causes intense shifts in mood, energy levels, thinking patterns and behavior. These shifts can last for hours, days, weeks or months and interrupt your ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.
There are a few types of bipolar disorder, which involve experiencing significant fluctuations in mood referred to as hypomanic/manic and depressive episodes. However, people with bipolar disorder arent always in a hypomanic/manic or depressive state. They also experience periods of normal mood, known as euthymia.
A key feature of bipolar I disorder is manic episodes. To meet the criteria for bipolar I disorder, you must have had at least one manic episode in your life for at least a week with or without ever experiencing a depressive episode.
Mania is a condition in which you have a period of abnormally elevated or irritable mood, as well as extreme changes in emotions, thoughts, energy, talkativeness and activity level. This highly energized level of physical and mental activity and behavior is a change from your usual self and is noticeable by others.
People with certain types of bipolar such as bipolar II disorder experience hypomania, which is a less severe form of mania. It doesnt last as long as manic episodes and it doesnt interfere with daily functioning as much.
- Feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness.
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Depressive Episodes With Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder is a different type of mood disorder that is characterized by a cycle of depressive episodes and manic episodes. Manic episodes are essentially the opposite of depression, during which a person feels euphoric, energized, and sleeps little and acts recklessly. The depressive episodes that precede or follow manic episodes can feel a lot like an episode of major depression.
Certain symptoms are more common in episodes of bipolar depression than major depression. Someone going through bipolar depression is more likely to feel irritable and guilty, to be restless and agitated, and to have unpredictable mood swings. Bipolar depression is also more likely to cause psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia. Another important difference is that antidepressants may not help treat someone with bipolar disorder. In fact, these drugs may make periods of mania more likely. Instead, bipolar disorder is more often treated with mood stabilizing drugs.
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.
We Should Divide Depressive Episodes Into Reactions Disorders And Diseases
Click on almost any standard health site, such as Web-MD, and look up depression and it will report that depression is different than normal sadness. The site will normally proceed to proclaim that, unlike normal sadness, depression is a “treatable medical condition.” Unfortunately, differentiating depression from sadness by describing the former as a treatable medical condition does not really explain what depression is it only tells you that you need to see a doctor.
So, lets be very clear about what depression is and then proceed to see why we can characterize depressive episodes in terms of depressive reactions, depressive disorders, and depressive diseases.
I was crestfallen and recall weeping profoundly in the hours following that discovery. But although I was deeply sad in the days that followed, I was not depressed nor did I become depressed.
So what is the difference between sadness and depression? Sadness is an emotional reaction to loss. It is your motivational-emotional systems way of signaling that something you valued or something you hoped would come true was lost. Sadness is the way we digest the pain of our loss. Guilt is the signal that you failed to do something you ought to have done and, in failing to do so, someone got hurt. You can see why I felt both sad and guilty in the above example.
Major Depression A Chronic Illness
Major depression is a serious mental illness. It is classified as a mood disorder, which means that it is characterized by negative patterns in thoughts and emotions that dont line up with a persons actual circumstances. It is also a chronic mental illness. This means it is not curable and that it can come and go, sometimes for a persons entire life. Someone diagnosed with depression may feel fine for a long period of time and then have symptoms. The period during which someone experiences the symptoms is called a depressive episode.
Most people with major depression live with it as a chronic illness. Episodes come and go, although they may be made less severe and less frequent with good treatment. In some cases, though, a person may experience a singular episode of depression, just once in a lifetime. Often these episodes of depression are triggered by a situational event: a death in the family, the loss of a job or relationship, or some kind of trauma, like a physical assault. This single depressive episode may be just as serious as those experienced by someone with recurrent major depression, with all the same symptoms and persistence.
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Information For Family Carers And Friends
You can get support if you are a carer, friend or family member of someone living with depression.
Being a carer might mean you can claim certain benefits that might help you and the person you care for. For more information, please see the Mental Health and Money Advice services website:www.mentalhealthandmoneyadvice.org/en/welfare-benefits/what-benefits-are-available-for-mental-health-carers/
You could also get in touch with carer support groups or sibling support groups. You can search for local groups in your area online or ask your GP.
You can ask your local authority for a carers assessment if you need more practical support to help care for someone.
As a carer you should be involved in decisions about care planning. There are rules about information sharing and confidentiality which may make it difficult for you to get all the information you need in some circumstances.
You can find out more information about:
How can I support the person that I care for?
You might find it easier to support someone with depression if you understand their symptoms, treatment and self-management skills. You can use this to support them to get help and stay well.
Below are some initial suggestions for providing practical day to day support to someone with depression.
You can find out more information about:
You can find more information about:
Depressive Episodes Vs Sadness
Like grief, depressive episodes are often linked to sadness. An emotional pain marked by feelings of longing or lacking, sadness can sometimes be hard to distinguish from the characteristics of a depressive episode.
But despite their similarities, depressive episodes are distinct from moments of sadness. For starters, sadness, like mourning, is not considered a mental health disorder, but a part of life.
Secondly, sadness usually lasts for much longer periods of time, compared to the minimum two-week requirements for a depressive episode diagnosis.
Sadness also lasts for a much shorter part of each day, as opposed to a depressive episode, which can last most and even the entirety of ones day.
Finally, while a depressive episode is considered a mental health issue due to the intensity of its symptoms and their detrimental effect on an individuals quality of life or daily functioning, sadness is a less severe experience, and normally passes without leaving a significant impact on ones well-being.
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Professional Mental Health Treatment
It can be hard to admit, but sometimes a depressive episode is too big to handle on your own. But accepting professional help is okay. In fact, in many cases it is the best way to get your life back on track and to get rid of your depressive episode.
At Ridgeview Hospital, our adult psychiatric program exists to help people with issues like depressive episodes. Through inpatient care with mental health professionals, we provide evidence-based treatments like:
- Individual-focused therapy
- Therapy groups
- Proactive discharge planning
If youve tried other methods and you still cant get out of a depressive episode, then its time to turn to the professionals. To learn more about how we can help, call our friendly admissions specialists at or ask your questions online. Figuring out how to get out of a depressive episode can be challenging, but well help you get your life back under control.
Signs And Symptoms Of Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder can look very different in different people. The symptoms vary widely in their pattern, severity, and frequency. Some people are more prone to either mania or depression, while others alternate equally between the two types of episodes. Some have frequent mood disruptions, while others experience only a few over a lifetime.
There are four types of mood episodes in bipolar disorder: mania, hypomania, depression, and mixed episodes. Each type of bipolar disorder mood episode has a unique set of symptoms.
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Alcohol Tobacco And Other Drugs
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.
Seek Support For Symptoms Of Depression
Depression is often not recognised and can go on for months or even years if left untreated. Its important to seek support as early as possible, as the sooner a person gets treatment, the sooner they can recover.
Untreated depression can have many negative effects on a persons life, including serious relationship and family problems, difficulty finding and holding down a job, and drug and alcohol problems.
There is no one proven way that people recover from depression. However, there is a range of effective treatments and health professionals who can help people on the road to recovery.
There are also many things that people with depression can do for themselves to help them recover and stay well. The important thing is to find the right treatment and the right health professional for a persons needs.
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The Symptoms Of A Major Depressive Episode
The diagnostic criteria for major depression include nine possible symptoms. To be diagnosed, a person must experience at least five of these symptoms and significant impairment as a result of those symptoms. The symptoms must last for at least two weeks. This is a depressive episode. The nine possible symptoms of major depressive episodes are:
- Depressed mood. A feeling of depression, sadness, and hopelessness that is intense and persistent. This may seem more like irritability in children, teens, and men.
- Loss of interest. A significant loss of interest or pleasure in doing normal activities, including daily activities like chores but also hobbies, work, or school.
- Weight changes. Significant loss of weight or weight gain that is not intentional but is triggered by overeating or loss of appetite.
- Sleep changes. Either excessive sleep or insomnia and difficulty sleeping.
- Agitation or retardation. Agitated and restless expression or slowed down affect that is notable to anyone observing.
- Fatigue. Fatigue and loss of energy that is more than normal and cant be explained simply by lack of sleep or low quality sleep.
- Excessive guilt. Feelings of deep guilt and shame, a feeling of being worthless.
- Impaired thinking. Difficulty concentrating, making decisions, and focusing on anything, even just watching television.
- Suicidal thoughts. Thoughts of death, suicide, and suicidal planning or suicidal attempts.
Understanding Whats Happening To You
If youre in the middle of a depression episode, it may seem nearly impossible to know whats happening. There are a few ways you can track such episodes so you can take action to get the help you need.
- Start to chart your mood or use a journal to record your thoughts and feelings. Write down reactions to things that occur on a daily basis.
- Use that information to recognize triggers that could influence episodes, such as fighting with a spouse or employer.
- Talk to friends and family while youre feeling good. Ask them to let you know when you seem down. Have a circle of people you trust to help with this.
- Meet routinely with your doctor. Be sure you are receiving the right medication and care.
- Meet with a therapist who can offer guidance about whats happening. Having someone to speak to right away can be very empowering.
You may not be able to stop your episode from occurring, but youre recognizing whats happening and getting the help you need to manage it. Thats critical.
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