We all feel it at one time or another, the feeling of sadness and hopelessness; to a point it’s normal phase of life. Different situations affect us and we go through a period of time where it seems nothing can go right. For some, however, that feeling doesn’t go away, lingering for days and weeks at a time and interfering with everyday life. The most important aspect of depression is for those who live with the illness and more so for those who do not is to know that it is not a sign of weakness or being negative, it is a legitimate health issue and treatable with medication, talk therapy, and lifestyle changes.
Depression is not as clear cut as many may think there are many faces to depression and I want to touch on a few of them here. The diagnosis of the type of depression is critical is finding the right type of treatment.
Major Depression is the illness that is most commonly heard of. It is characterized by a loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, loss of weight, or weight gain, a feeling of being sleepy most of the time, a feeling of worthlessness, trouble concentrating and thought of suicide. Five of more of these symptoms must be present for at least two week for a diagnosis of Major Depression. Once you have a diagnosis, your doctor can then begin to work with you on the best way to treat your illness.
Persistent Depressive Disorder: This type of depression follows the same pattern of Major Depression, however, the symptoms must be present for at least two year. This would be considered Persistent Depression and is treated with medication and therapy.
Bipolar Disorder: While it mimics the symptoms of depression, there are also periods of extreme highs, called manic episodes. The most important thing here is to use medication to stabilize the moods swings, these are called mood stabilizers. Anti-depressant is not commonly use with Bipolar Disorder because they tend to increase the chance of a manic episode.
Seasonal Affective Disorder: This is most common during the winter months when there is less sunlight and the days are shorter. Major depression occurs during this time and is treated with anti-depressants and light therapy. Light therapy is most common and requires the person to sit in front of a natural light box for 15 to 30 minutes a day.
Psychotic Depression: This is a diagnosis of major depression which includes with it symptoms of psychosis, including hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia. Anti-Depressants and Anti-psychotic drugs are used to treat this type of depression.
PostPartum Depression: This has also been known as the “baby blues,” and occurs in the weeks and months after the birth of a child. Anti-depressants and therapy are known to help with this illness.
Situational Depression: While there is not a technical term for this type of depression, but it hits all of us at one time or another when a stressful event occurs in life. The death of a loved one, the loss of a job, divorce or any occurrence that makes you feel unsure of yourself and the world around you. Therapy is the most common treatment for this type of depression
As you can the illness of depression is not cut and dry, one size fits all type of illness. There are many facets and anyone can fall under one or more diagnosis. The more we talk about depression and mental illness the more we can come to understand that it is a medical condition and that 1 in 4 people live some sort of mental illness, most often you do not know who it is.