• Depression

  • Depression involves more than just a low mood and sadness. Clinical depression can feel like a black, enveloping cloud that unwelcomingly descends into one’s life and makes everyday activities seem overwhelming and pointless. Often, it can be hard to see beyond this black cloud. Once a person suffers one major depressive episode, they may experience subsequent episodes.

    There is no single known cause of depression. It can result from a genetic predisposition for the disorder, hormonal imbalances, stress and trauma, or the use of mood-altering chemicals. It is a biochemical disorder characterized by a dysregulation of neurotransmitters, which are the chemical messengers used by the brain to produce feelings, moods, and emotions. In addition,the parts of the brain responsible for regulating mood, thinking, sleep, appetite and behavior appear to function abnormally.

    Depression is a highly treatable disorder. As with many illnesses, the earlier that treatment can begin, the more effective it is and the greater the likelihood that recurrence can be prevented.

  • Symptoms of Depression include:

    • Persistent feeling of sadness, emptiness, or irritability.
    • Fatigue or loss of energy.
    • Loss of motivation or interest.
    • Problems focusing and making decisions.
    • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt.
    • Changes in sleeping or eating patterns.
    • Recurring thoughts of death or suicide.
  • Depressive disorders make one feel exhausted, worthless, helpless, and hopeless. Such negative thoughts may make some people feel like giving up. It is important to realize that these negative perceptions are part of the depression and typically do not accurately reflect the situation. Negative thinking fades as treatment starts to take effect.

    Approximately 18.8 million American adults, or about 9.5% of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year, have a depressive disorder.
    Nearly twice as many women (12%) as men (6.6%) are affected by a depressive disorder each year. These figures translate to 12.4 million women and 6.4 million men in the U.S.

    Women between the ages of 25-44 are most often affected by depression with a major cause of depression in women being the inability to express or handle Anger.

    There are other forms of depression that are definitely different. They develop under unique circumstances, and situations such as:

    Persistent Depressive Disorder (also called dysthymia) is a depressed mood/feeling that lasts for at least two years. Individuals diagnosed with persistent depressive disorder sometimes have episodes of major depression.  They may also have instances of less severe symptoms, but the combined symptoms must last for a minimum of two years to be considered persistent depressive disorder.

    Postpartum Depression is commonly known as the “baby blues” (these are relatively mild depressive and anxiety symptoms that clear within two weeks of birth).  Many women experience this after giving birth and should always be taken seriously. Women with postpartum depression characteristically have experienced one or more full-blown major depressive events during pregnancy. or after delivery. These feelings are characterized by extreme sadness, anxiety, worry, and often exhaustion. These symptoms may make it difficult for some new mothers to complete daily care activities for themselves and/or for their babies.

    Psychotic Depression occurs when a person has been diagnosed with severe depression and also with a form of psychosis. The psychosis can alter behaviors.  This could include having disturbing false or fixed beliefs (delusions). Another form is hearing or seeing irrational things that only the individual can hear or see (hallucinations). These psychotic symptoms are often characterized by a negative “theme,” such as delusions of guilt, poverty, illness or unworthiness.

    Seasonal Affective Disorder is characterized by depression during the winter months, November through early March.  During the wintertime, there is less natural sunlight, and it gets darker much sooner, in the early evening. This type of depression generally disappears during spring and summer. Seasonal depression is usually accompanied by a withdrawal from social activities, increased periods of sleep, and even weight gain. It  returns every year as seasonal affective disorder.

    Bipolar Disorder is not the same as depression, but it is included in this list. Someone with bipolar disorder experiences periods of extremely low moods, that clearly meet the criteria for depression (called “bipolar depression”). However a person with bipolar disorder also experiences periods of euphoria. These moods are called “mania” or a less severe form called “hypomania.”  These changes in mood can last for days, weeks or even longer.