It isn't uncommon to feel sad. In fact, it's a perfectly normal emotion. Everyone feels blue from time to time due to the death of someone close to them, a break-up, or moving away from loved ones.
However, when it becomes a regular occurrence, it may be something more.
What Is Depression?
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness statistics on mental health, 25% of the adult population in the states admitted to having some form of depression for at least two weeks. Depression is a mental illness that may affect feelings in a negative way.
It can bring on an overwhelming sadness that prevents you from functioning in a normal manner. It can even debilitate, preventing you from going to work, having a serious relationship and cause you to lose interest in things you previously enjoyed.
Symptoms of Depression
Depression can be temporary or permanent. It can also be mild or very severe. Listed below are some of the common symptoms people often experience with a diagnosis of depression.
Types of Depression
There are many different types of depression, with some people having more than one. Below are the various types and a description of the mental illness.
Bipolar Disorder- People live life often in extremes. They either feel really depressed or have extreme amounts of uncontrolled energy.
The mood swings can often occur simultaneously, making it difficult to hold a job or have a long-term relationship. Bipolar disorder often becomes further complicated when it's not just depression but also a personality disorder too.
This can cause the person to use poor judgment and hang out with the wrong people, abuse drugs and alcohol, and practice risky behavior as the norm.
PDD (Persistent Depressive Disorder) – Unlike bipolar disorder, which is a life sentence, PDD can occur randomly and then leave suddenly.
Some people have one episode and then never experience it again. While others may have it once every few years. On average, it lasts for a period of two years or more and occurs more often in women.
Seasonal Depression – Someone who has major depression can have an enhanced state of depression when the seasons change. It generally only occurs during the fall and winter months.
Postpartum Depression – New mothers, after delivering their baby, often experience feelings of sadness and fatigue. They can also experience uncontrolled mood swings.
This is perfectly normal. However, the symptoms persist for much longer than a few weeks it may be postpartum depression.
Psychotic Depression – People with a diagnosis of severe clinical depression sometimes also experience a form of psychosis. They may have hallucinations or delusions. Either one feels real to them and can be dangerous if left untreated.
Cause/Risk of Depression
While the chemistry of your brain, hormones, and your genetics can contribute to your likeliness of having the illness, there is no single identifiable cause.
There are other factors that may put you at risk, including low self-esteem, a personality or anxiety disorder, being the victim of sexual or physical abuse or a family history of the illness.
Chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer or multiple sclerosis, or disorders related to alcohol, drugs, or prescription meds can also increase your risk.
Getting a Diagnosis
If you suspect you or a loved one has some form of depression it's best to see your doctor to get a professional to confirm it. Symptoms should persist for a period of at least two weeks.
When you see your doctor, it's also important to disclose everything so that you get an accurate and true assessment. Let them know if you have trouble sleeping, often feel fatigued, have low self-esteem or thoughts of committing suicide.
Your MD will do a series of blood tests to rule out other possibilities for your feelings of sadness.
The good news is that there are treatment options available for depression. Many people take prescription antidepressant drugs combined with therapy for moderate cases of the mental illness.
Vitamin D or light therapy is something often administered to people with seasonal depression. And, in the most severe cases of the mental illness where other treatments provide little or no positive results, including those with psychosis, the use of electroconvulsive therapy proves beneficial.
Depression Left Undetected
Prolonged depression without treatment can have serious and even life-threatening consequences. Those who live in a chronic state of depression can develop serious health problems that start out as simply an annoying headache or chronic aches and pains throughout the body.
Or, they may take on bad habits to camouflage their feelings. This can result in a dependency that turns quickly into addiction to drugs or alcohol.
On top of that, the emotional state of mind is in distress too, causing the person to isolate themselves from others, develop problems in their relationships, and even possibly contemplate suicide.
Getting Back to Living
Having any form of depression can grab ahold of your life and prevent you from living. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to feel better.
Socialize with people who view life in a positive way and leave the ones who constantly wallow in negativity behind. Exercise can also provide a quick pick-me-up by releasing chemicals called endorphins which make you feel happy.
A healthy diet consisting of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and omega-3 will also give your body the proper nutrition it needs to help stabilize your mood.
Depression affects millions of Americans annually. It's a serious mental illness that can debilitate and cause you to lose out on the things you enjoy doing the most.
If you suspect that something isn't right and you are constantly in a funk that you can't break free of, visit your doctor. Getting treatment can possibly save your life.