It’s easy to mistake signs of depression for something else. If you’re sad, it’s natural to think it’s because you have relationship issues, consistent job issues, or just had a bad day. But when those feelings consume most of your day every day, you may need a diagnosis and professional care.
What is Depression?
According to the experts at the Cleveland Clinic, “Depression is a medical condition that affects your mood and ability to function. Depression types include clinical depression, bipolar depression, dysthymia, seasonal affective disorder, and others. Treatment options range from counseling to medications to brain stimulation and complementary therapies.” It affects about 16 million U.S. adults and nearly 300 million people worldwide. The World Health Organization calls it a leading source of disability, but symptoms are treatable.
Forms of Depression
Major depression is the most well-known type of depression, a state of mental health where you’re consumed by a dark mood and lose interest in hobbies, even things you usually enjoy. Symptoms include problems sleeping, fluctuations in hunger or weight, low energy, and feelings of worthlessness.
Persistent depressive disorder was once known as “dysthymia,” and describes a low mood that lingers for at least two years but doesn’t always achieve the peak intensity of major depression. If you, like many others, have this kind of depression, you can still function daily, but low moods and joylessness are common components of your life. You also could experience problems with your appetite, weight, sleep cycles, lack of energy, poor self-esteem, and hopelessness.
In the annals of psychiatric history, people suffered from a kind of depression referred to as a manic-depressive disorder. Today, it’s simply called bipolar disorder. People experiencing it have bouts of depression and episodes of abnormally high energy or activity. The symptoms are the opposite of depression: grand ideas, whimsically high self-esteem, diminished need for sleep, thinking and doing things at a faster speed, and engaging in reckless behavior. You may feel euphoric, but it won’t last long, and can turn into self-destructive behavior – and is normally followed by depression.
Just like clockwork, you start to feel tired and moody when the season changes from fall to winter. This is known as seasonal affective disorder. It happens when there are fewer hours of daylight in the fall and winter. Your mood change may happen because of changes in your body’s organic daily rhythms, in how sensitive your eyes are to light, or in the transmission and function of chemical messengers – neurotransmitters – like glutamate, serotonin, and melatonin. One of the reasons your healthcare provider may recommend ketamine is because it’s known to strengthen and possibly repair damaged neurotransmitters which are vital to how feelings, moods, and pain sensations are processed.
If you experience perinatal depression, you may have a type of depression that includes major and minor depressive events that happen when you’re pregnant or in the first year following delivery (sometimes referred to as postpartum depression). Perinatal depression affects one in seven women after childbirth, and can have devastating consequences not only on the mother, but also their infants and family.
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder is another kind of depression that happens to women and is a severe kind of premenstrual disorder. What is the timeframe to watch for? The days or weeks culminating in a woman’s menstrual period.
Psychotic depression is another worrisome mental health condition. It’s characterized by psychotic features like hallucinations and delusions paired with a major depressive episode, even though the symptoms normally exhibit themes like death, guilt, and worthlessness.
Diagnosis And Treatment
Diagnosis depends on:
- A physical examination where a doctor may ask health-related questions and look for an underlying physical health issue causing your symptoms.
- A psychiatric assessment. Absent a medical cause, you may undergo a psychiatric exam to talk about your thoughts, feelings, and behavior. You may be asked to complete a survey to help answer such questions and assess your symptoms.
Finally, your healthcare provider may use the results of lab tests and diagnostic procedures and will compare your symptoms to the criteria listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Treatment may involve psychotherapy, antidepressants, or ketamine.
If you have depression, you’re not alone. Hundreds of millions of people – adults and children – have membership in a not-so-exclusive club bereft of happiness, good feelings, and a sense of belonging. But your life doesn’t have to be ruined. To learn more about innovative treatment options that may help you find relief, contact us today.