Depression

11 Jul Depression

Depression is a real illness. When a person has depression, it interferes with daily life and normal functioning. It can cause pain for both the person with depression and those who care about him or her. Doctors call this condition “depressive disorder,” or “clinical depression.” It is a real illness. It is not a sign of a person’s weakness or a character flaw. You can’t “snap out of” clinical depression.

 Signs and Symptoms

Sadness is only a small part of depression. Some people with depression may not feel sadness at all. Depression has many other symptoms, including physical ones. If you have been experiencing any of the following signs and symptoms for at least 2 weeks, you may be suffering from depression:

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
  • Restlessness, irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
  • Appetite and/or weight changes

It’s normal to feel down once in a while, but if you’re sad most of the time and it affects your daily life, you may have clinical depression.

The most commonly diagnosed form of depression is Major Depressive Disorder, a condition whose primary symptom is an overwhelming depressed mood for more than two weeks. The depressed mood affects all facets of the person’s life, including work, home life, relationships and friendships.

Dysthymia

Dysthymia is characterized by an overwhelming yet chronic state of depression, exhibited by a depressed mood for most of the days, for more days than not, for at least 2 years.  (In children and adolescents, mood can be irritable and duration must be at  least 1 year.)  The person who suffers from this disorder must not have gone for more than 2 months without experiencing two or more of the following symptoms:

  • Decreased energy, fatigue
  • Low self-esteem
  • Appetite and/or weight changes
  • Trouble sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
  • Poor concentration or difficulty making decisions
  • Feelings of hopelessness

Bipolar Disorder

Another type of depressive illness is bipolar Bipolar disorder is characterized by cycling mood changes: severe highs (mania) and lows (depression), often with periods of normal mood in between. Sometimes the mood switches are dramatic and rapid, but usually they are gradual. When in the depressed cycle, an individual can have any or all of the symptoms of depression. When in the manic cycle, the individual may be overactive, over-talkative, and have a great deal of energy.

Persistent Depressive Disorder

A depression that lasts over 2 years, involving symptoms that come and go in severity.  The key is that the symptoms must be present at least two years

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

A depression starting in the winter months, usually stemming from low natural sunlight and often lifting in the summer months.  Sad may be effectively treated with light therapy (Full Spectrum Lighting), but about half do not respond to treatment and benefit from a combination of therapy and medication.

Comorbidity

When a disease or disorder occurs at the same time as another, but is unrelated to it, it is considered to be comorbid.  Among those suffering with depression, 92% also reported meeting the criteria for at least one additional mental illness.

Substance Induced Mood Disorder (abuse or dependence)

Substance-Induced Mood Disorder is a common depressive illness of clients in substance abuse treatment.  It is defined in DSM-V-TR as “a prominent and persistent disturbance of mood…that is judged to be due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (i.e., a drug of abuse, a medication, or somatic treatment for depression, or toxin exposure).  The mood can manifest as manic (expansive, grandiose, irritable), depressed, or a mixture of mania and depression.

Generally, substance-induced mood disorders will only present either during intoxication from the substance or on withdrawal from the substance and therefore do not have as lengthy a course as other depressive illnesses.  However, substance use disorders also frequently co-occur with other depressive disorders.

The information contained on this Website should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your health care provider. There may be variations in treatment that your health care provider may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.