Basic Information About Depression
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “Depression is a common but serious mood disorder. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working.” Even though depression is common, it should not be ignored.
Though there are several types of depression, this does not mean that any type is less severe or less problematic than another. The types tell more about when it occurs and the possible length of time it lasts. The National Institute of Mental Health website lists the different types of depression.
When a person has consistent depression for two or more years, they have Persistent Depressive Disorder. This sort of depression can have a cycle of severe and less severe depressive symptoms that last a minimum of two years.
Postpartum Depressions occurs during pregnancy or after delivery. Some mothers experience mild depression after giving birth termed baby blues that clears up after a few weeks. Someone with postpartum depression shows the symptoms of major depression affecting day to day life for any amount of time during pregnancy or after delivery.
Most people have heard of or have known someone with persistent depressive order or postpartum depression. The next types are not as well known. Psychotic depression is someone with severe depression and psychosis. Their psychotic symptoms may have a depressive theme. Those with Seasonal Affective Disorder feel depressed during winter months. Finally, those with bipolar disorder can have periods of severe depression.
Symptoms of Depression
It is important to understand the symptoms or signs of depression. The National Institute of Mental Health lists the symptoms as:
- 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
- Moving or talking more slowly
- Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
- Appetite and/or weight changes
- Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
- Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease even with treatment
Not everyone with depression suffers from all or even the exact same symptoms. If you notice yourself or someone else showing some of these symptoms for more than two weeks, they may have some form of depression and need help.
Depression treatments vary in order to work with the severity, the type, and the wishes of the person. The most common forms of treatment are medication and counseling. Brain Stimulation therapy is a less commonly known treatment used for people who have not had relief even after doing the more common treatments
Medications used to treat depression are called antidepressants. Doctors may also prescribe anti-anxiety medication if they feel that it will better help the depression. The medication takes at least a month to show benefits. During this time and after, a psychiatrist should work closely with the person to monitor effectiveness and side effects. Antidepressants, though helpful, can increase thoughts of suicide or other erratic behavior. If someone starts a new medication, they need to watch carefully for severe side effects.
Counseling, or talk therapy, is another form of treatment. A counselor helps identifies thoughts, ideas, or actions that trigger depressive behavior. They can also teach skills to help get through and even slightly overcome these issues.
One thing not considered treatment is suicide. Let me repeat, suicide is NOT a treatment. Sometimes suicide feels like the only way to rid yourself of the doubt, the guilt, the pain, the darkness that invades your mind. Honestly, suicide never helps. In fact, it hurts. It hurts the ones you love, the ones you may be trying to help. Please even in your darkest hour, reach out for help. There are ways to help manage depression and suicidal thoughts.
Over a year ago, I was diagnosed with Severe Depressive Disorder or persistent depressive disorder. Simply, I have depression. Though I struggle with it daily, I refuse to let this mental illness define me. I know I am more than my depression.
Before my diagnosis, my husband noticed the symptoms I showed. He remarked on my lack of enjoyment in things I loved or my inability to do simple household chores. In fact, even after my diagnosis, I thought I could handle it by myself. I was wrong.
My depression makes it difficult for me to be or even to believe I am the wonderful mom and wife my husband says I am. Often it impacts my ability to do daily chores and interact with my family, making me feel bad. This leads to more depression and becomes an endless cycle. I struggle to break out of this cycle which has led to thoughts and plans of suicide.
Though I have never attempted suicide, I have planned it. My understanding of the value of life has helped me avoid that final step. Even so, I have thoughts of suicide. I have even planned a day and a way to take my life.
At this point, when I realized how severe my thoughts had become, I told my husband. He helped me go into an inpatient facility to keep me safe. During this time, I was able to think and reiterate in my mind who I am and why I love living. I also began taking medication to help.
In my struggle, I have and continue to take medication to mitigate depression. I have also done counseling and learned skills to manage those times when life becomes harder. I found that as I try to be healthier, exercise, and focus on other things, I have a better handle on my emotions and thoughts.
Though I still struggle daily with depression and thoughts of suicide, I try to find enjoyment in each day through my hobbies, my friends, my family, my husband and my children. These enjoyments remind me of the worth of life. Even in my darkest moments, I try to remember I am loved. Somedays, I hang on to that thought until I see the light again.
Help with Depression
If you have shown persistent symptoms of depression or if you know someone who has, please get help. I beg you as someone who has been there and tried to do it alone; please get help.
If you need help, call the suicidal hotline, go to the emergency room, call your local police, or firefighter. Sometimes it is hard to ask for help. Your life is worth it. Go ahead and ask. You are loved.