We all get depressed at one time or another. It is literally impossible to maintain a positive outlook on life 24/7. However, when it comes to clinical depression you are dealing with a problem of much more complexity than just an everyday case of the doldrums.
Depression is a psychiatric problem and in severe cases can be very debilitating. There are times when the symptoms can actually cause physical problems as well as mental and emotional problems. But depression is not just one thing; it can be divided into several different types so depending on the type and severity of the symptoms it could present itself in a number of ways. It’s important that everyone learn at least the basics of the depression signs, symptoms and treatments so it can be identified early and treatment can be started.
Major Depressive Disorder: Persons who have a major depressive disorder feel a profound and unrelenting sense of hopelessness and despair. The symptoms associated with this condition can be so severe that it can interfere and even inhibit their ability to function on a daily basis. They may not be able to work, study, sleep, or even eat under normal conditions. Simply participating in activities that they once enjoyed may seem utterly impossible. Episodes of major depression are not common. Often people will experience this type of depression only once or twice in a lifetime.
Common symptoms of major depression can include extreme sadness, irritability, a loss of interest in activities, even those they once enjoyed, withdrawal from any type of social activity, lack of concentration, inability to sleep, fatigue, loss of appetite, and thoughts of suicide.
Dysthymia or Persistent Depressive Disorder: While a major depressive disorder may occur only on occasion, Dysthymia is a chronic condition that rarely leaves. It is not as severe as major depression but the symptoms you might experience could linger on for a very long time making it just as devastating. It is not uncommon for dysthymia to last for several years before there is any type of relief. People who live with dysthymia generally find a way to survive in a normal environment but they are often unhappy no matter what they do.
To compound the problem, those who have to live with dysthymia may also develop another form of depression that will come and go over time. When this happens it’s called “double depression,” and will wax and wane over long periods of time making life even more difficult.
Seasonal Affective Disorder: Just as the name indicates, some people have a seasonal pattern for their depressive symptoms. At certain times of the year they could become very sad, irritable, lose interest in normal activities, withdraw from society in general, and have the inability to concentrate.
This phenomenon is more likely to occur in the winter rather than at any other time of the year. Sometimes referred to as the winter doldrums, seasonal depression will show signs of fatigue, the powerful desire to sleep all the time, lack of energy, weight gain, increased appetite, poor concentration, and a strong urge to be alone.
People who suffer from seasonal depression will eventually come out of it, especially when their environment or climate changes to something more favorable.
Psychotic Depression: At least 25% of people with depression need to be hospitalized for the condition. These people suffer from the other symptoms of depression but also experience periods where they have hallucinations, and delusions.
While hallucinations and delusions are common symptoms of mental disorders like schizophrenia, they are not the same. With schizophrenia the patient may have delusions of all sorts of things but with depressive delusions, the patient may have extreme negative thoughts and fears relating to things like being hopeless, being punished, or they feel an extreme sense of guilt over some transgression that they may have committed.
Closely associated with that is a strong sense of shame or embarrassment and they have extreme fatigue from the everyday struggle to hide their psychotic symptoms from the people around them. A person with psychotic depression may struggle with bouts of anxiety, agitation, paranoia, insomnia, physical immobility, intellectual impairment, hallucinations, and delusions.
While the medical world has come to better understand this disease and how it affects so many people, they have yet to understand its root cause. However, as their knowledge of depression signs, symptoms and treatments continue to expand their understanding of what it is and how to bring relief to those who suffer from it.
Treatment in Depression Signs, Symptoms and Treatments:
There are many different ways that depression can be treated but the most common course is the use of a combination of antidepressants with selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs. Doctors have also found success in prescribing serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), and tricyclic antidepressants. These drugs along with psychotherapy have been very successful in helping to relieve the devastating symptoms of depression in many patients.
In more extreme cases, such as psychotic depression, doctors may prescribe a course of antipsychotic medicine along with mood stabilizers in addition to the SNRIs and SSRIs to get the patient back on track. In cases where the illness has become disabling, extreme measures may be necessary. A doctor may recommend electroconvulsive therapy or ECT when the patient does not respond to any other forms of treatment.
The future at times may look bleak for those who are suffering from depression but as research continues our understanding of depression signs, symptoms and treatments is becoming clearer. The outlook therefore is very promising and by working in conjunction with your medical team (your doctor and your mental health professional) it is possible for everyone suffering from depression to find relief and hopefully there will be a cure one day that will help all of them get back to a normal way of life.
While everyone struggles to fight off a bout of depression from time to time those who suffer from it on a daily basis struggle the most. But there is hope on the horizon and every day new treatments are being introduced allowing them to meld back into a normal routine and eventually get back to the business of living once again.