Symptoms of Depression
Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders in the United States. 16 million adults experience a major depressive episode each year.
Symptoms vary, but many depression sufferers report:
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
- Feelings of hopelessness, or pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
- Decreased energy or fatigue
- Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Appetite and/or weight changes
- Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
One measurement commonly used to distinguish a depressive episode from simply feeling “low,” is the duration and severity of symptoms. In a major depressive episode, individuals experience persistent feelings of depression and/or hopelessness for two weeks or longer.
Types of Depression
Major depression is an acute feeling of despair and hopelessness which impairs the person’s ability to function. Someone who is suffering from major depression may lose interest in life and in routine activities previously enjoyed. Symptoms often include persistently low mood or irritability, changes in sleep and appetite, feelings of worthlessness and low self-esteem, lack of energy and lack of enjoyment in previously meaningful activities. An individual suffering from depression may also have suicidal thoughts.
Persistent Depressive Disorder
Persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia) is a persistent low-mood that lasts for two years or longer. While most people with this type of depression are still able to function, they struggle with a chronic, mildly low mood. Other symptoms can include changes in appetite and sleeping habits, low self-esteem, lack of energy and a feeling of hopelessness.
Postpartum depression affects women who have recently given birth. Onset of depression can occur anytime from during the pregnancy to a year after the baby is born. New fathers can also suffer from postpartum depression.
While many women report brief periods of depression from a few days to a few weeks after giving birth, symptoms of Postpartum Depression are more intense and persistent. These symptoms can include:
- Depression or mood swings
- Crying excessively
- Feeling distanced from your baby, family, and friends
- Changes in appetite and sleeping patterns
- Feelings of shame, guilt, worthlessness or inadequacy
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
When left untreated, postpartum depression can seriously impair functioning and the maternal-child bond. Studies show that around half the parents who suffer from postpartum depression do not seek professional help. It is critical to seek help quickly for postpartum depression. The first step is often consulting one’s obstetrician, primary care doctor, psychiatrist, or pediatrician.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that is triggered by seasonal changes. Onset usually occurs during late fall with symptoms intensifying as the weather changes and persisting throughout the winter. However, some people experience the opposite, where symptoms appear in early spring and worsen throughout the summer. Symptoms can include:
- Changes is sleep patterns (oversleeping or insomnia)
- Changes in appetite (significant weight gain or loss)
- Persistent feeling of sadness or depression
- Low energy level
- Guilt feelings or low self-worth
- Suicidal thoughts
A person suffering from seasonal affective disorder can lose the ability to enjoy life and function normally. If the changing season causes you to suffer a prolonged and worsening depression you should seek professional help. With the help of experienced & caring professionals, you can retain emotional stability and live a full, joyful and balanced life year-round.
The above are just a few of the most common depressive disorders and are not all-inclusive. If you or someone you love is suffering from a depressive disorder, we are here to help.
Treatment for Depression
During the course of therapy, you’ll learn skills to manage your depression. You will learn to disengage from negative thoughts and treat them as information, rather than absolute truths, so they have less influence over your behavior.
As part of depression therapy, you will learn coping skills to help you withstand your triggers. You will also learn how to evaluate your interactions with others and work to improve how them.
One of the great challenges of depression therapy is that to get out of it requires engaging in activities that while depressed will likely feel impossible. It takes a tremendous dose of perseverance to get out and about when we feel apathy and low energy.
Life is an adventure, and we want you to the full spectrum of feelings (both good and bad) on a regular basis.