What Are the Signs of Depression?
If you think you may have depression, you’re not alone. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates more than 16 million adults have had depressive episodes in the past year. While more people suffer from anxiety than any other mental illness, depression is very common. In fact, depression is one of the most common mental illnesses in the United States. Depression can affect people of any age, race, or class. However, it’s most common in women. In fact, depression affects twice as many women as men. Middle-aged women have the highest rates of depression of anyone in the United States.
People who suffer from depression say it’s exhausting. Depression interferes with their daily lives. It makes it difficult for them to go to work or school. It makes relationships difficult. Everyday life also becomes difficult. How do you know you are depressed? What are the signs of depression? If you aren’t sure whether you have depression, we can help. We have information on the symptoms of depression, what causes it, and what you can do about it.
Depression in New Brunswick
One reason depression is so difficult for people to live with is, sometimes, it’s hard to tell whether you’re depressed. You could just be sad. Grief and depression are also difficult to diagnose. Doctors have a hard time telling the difference between depression and grief or sadness. This is especially true if your family has recently experienced the loss of a loved one. The American Psychiatric Association has provided guidelines so you can tell the difference between depression, grief, and sadness. In general, grief, sadness, and depression have some of the same characteristics. But they are also very different. If someone is grieving, he or she experiences a specific period of sadness. This period is mixed with happier, more positive times and memories of a loved one. Depression, on the other hand, is different. If you are depressed, it can be difficult for you to find happiness in anything. Also, people who are depressed have self-esteem issues. They feel worthless. They think the world would be better off if they weren’t in it. Grief doesn’t cause self-loathing or suicidal thoughts.
Signs or Symptoms of Depression
There are as many signs or symptoms of depression as there are treatments and medications. According to doctors and mental health professionals, someone with clinical depression has been deeply sad for more than two weeks. This sadness is affecting your daily activities and relationships. Also, this sadness is causing you to stop participating in the things you used to enjoy. There are several kinds of depression, and each has its own diagnosis and treatment.
Someone who has had symptoms of depression nearly every day for two weeks suffers from major depression. People with major depression no longer take interest or pleasure in activities they once loved. They may stop eating, or they may eat more. You may notice you are gaining weight or losing weight rapidly. You may have problems concentrating or making decisions. In fact, every decision is an effort. For people with major depression, sleeping is a challenge. They may be tired all the time and want to sleep, or they may not be sleeping at all. People who have major depression may feel their lives are moving in slow motion. They may also feel restless or agitated. If you have major depression, you may feel worthless and feel your life means nothing. You may even be considering suicide.
Persistent Depressive Disorder
A person whose depression has lasted for longer than two years is suffering from persistent depressive disorder. There are two kinds — major depression and persistent depression. Persistent depression is milder than major depression, so its symptoms are different. If you have persistent depression, you may notice you have changes in your appetite. You may overeat or not eat enough. You may be sleeping too much. You may feel fatigued. You might have trouble concentrating or making decisions. You may feel hopeless, but you may not have thoughts of suicide.
Bipolar Disorder with Depression
Do you have periods of time when you are “up” and have high energy? Are you experiencing more periods of time when you suffer from depression? If so, it’s possible you may suffer from bipolar disorder with depression. Bipolar disorder with depression affects millions of Americans each year. With bipolar disorder with depression, you might experience sudden changes in mood.
The National Institute of Mental Health says there are specific signs of bipolar disorder. You may notice your loved one seems abnormally happy or energetic at certain times. He or she may not be sleeping, yet he or she has a ton of energy. Your loved one might also be irritable or jumpy. You may notice he or she is speaking faster than normal. He or she may also have several projects going on at once, and he or she may leave others unfinished. Perhaps, you’re worried your loved one is spending too much money, drinking too much, or engaging in risky behavior. This is the mania or manic phase of bipolar disorder.
You might also notice your loved one is crashing as well during the depressive phase. During this phase, your loved one has all the signs of major depression. He or she may feel extremely sad. He or she might look listless as if he or she has no energy. Your loved one may sleep for hours at a time but will tell you he or she is still tired. Your loved one might be eating too much, or not at all. He or she may forget even the simplest things he or she would normally remember. Perhaps, your loved one talks about suicide. The difference between bipolar disorder with depression and major depression is the “up” or manic phase. If your loved one is suffering from bipolar disorder, there is always a manic phase.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
With seasonal affective disorder, people have a major depression during the winter when there is less sunlight. Many people with seasonal affective disorder can get help through antidepressants and light therapy. Researchers have found people who receive 30 minutes of light therapy a day find some relief.
Treatment for Depression
Research has found interesting statistics with regard to people and depression. While many people suffer from depression, more than half don’t get treatment for it. There are many treatments and therapies available. If you or someone you love is suffering from depression, you need to get treatment. Depression can have life-altering side effects if it remains untreated. It can lead to drug abuse, social isolation, relationship troubles, and problems at school or work.
Prescription drugs are available for people who are suffering from depression. Your doctor or mental health professional will decide where your treatment will start. Your doctor might start with SSRIs. SSRIs are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and are the most commonly used medications for people with depression. They target levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a signaling chemical that people with depression don’t have enough of. By raising the serotonin level, your depression symptoms may ease, and you may feel better.
If SSRIs don’t help, your doctor may choose to try a different medication. Some depression medications work on serotonin and norepinephrine to balance levels in the brain. These are SNRIs (serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors). Other medications, called monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), work differently. Instead of adding more chemicals to the brain, they block them instead. These chemicals may make depression worse, however.
No matter what kind of medication your doctor chooses, you need to be patient. The medication could take two to four weeks to become fully effective. When medications for depression are effective, they help people return to work or school. Medications may also improve a depressed person’s relationships with other people.
Research has found a combination of medication and therapy works best for people suffering from depression. Doctors will use many types of therapy. What kind he or she prescribes depends on the needs of the patient. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps people replace their hurtful or negative thought patterns with healthy ones. For example, you constantly tear yourself down because of your weight. Cognitive therapy would help you work on patterns of self-love. Interpersonal therapy focuses on relationships. It helps people work through their issues and build stronger relationships with friends and family. Some people also benefit from problem-solving therapy. This type of therapy gives people the tools they need to work through problems with friends and family.
Let Us Help You With Depression
If you’re worried you or someone you love is experiencing depression, get in touch with us. Our programs are innovative. Here at SOBA, we are a leader in behavioral medicine and mental health treatment. We know when you realize you or someone you love is suffering from depression, you want help and answers. SOBA has specialized treatment programs for people suffering from depression, conveniently located in New Brunswick, NJ. We understand depression can affect your quality of life, as well as that of your family. We have outpatient treatment programs available. We tailor our treatment options to fit your needs (Individualized Treatment Planning). When you or your family member begin treatment, the impact on your family can be life-changing. Call us today. Let us help you lead a healthy life again.