What do We Know about Depression?
At some time in your life you have a 1/10 chance of being diagnosed with depression, the “common cold of mental illness.” The number of patients diagnosed with depression increases 20% each year. 80% of people with depression receive no treatment. States with higher rates of depression also rate high in obesity, sleep disorders, heart disease, stroke, lack of education, and lack of access to medical insurance.
According to WebMD here is a current list of the types of depressive disorders: major depression, atypical, postpartum, persistent, manic (bipolar), seasonal affective (SAD), premenstrual dysphoric (PMDD), and situational. Although this list is already long, I want to add one more: spiritual depression.
8 Types +1
The different types of depression relate more to what triggers depression, rather than to a different set of symptoms. For example, postpartum depression results from giving birth, situational depression is the result of some difficult life experience, and premenstrual depression begins prior to the onset of a woman’s period. Manic depression (now commonly called Bipolar Disorder) involves periods of increased activity, talkativeness, inability to sleep, and euphoric (happy) feelings. The euphoria, in fact, masks incipient depression, which, when full-blown, is intense and can be lethal. I add spiritual depression to the list of types, because depression affects many people of faith, and in the process they complain they lose their sense of God’s presence in their life. In future blogs, I will look more closely at each type of depression to understand them and to be able to identify them more easily. I also want to address how to overcome depression.
In order to understand depression, it’s important to know the eight symptoms of major depression–by heart:
- Loss of interest or pleasure in your activities
- Weight loss or gain
- Trouble falling asleep or feeling sleepy during the day
- Feelings of being “sped up” or “slowed down”
- Feeling tired and without energy
- Feeling worthless or guilty
- Trouble concentrating or making decisions
- Thoughts of suicide
Any five of the above symptoms for 2 weeks or longer results in a diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder. That’s a cue to see your primary care provider or counselor and to be evaluated for medication. Such a series of symptoms may not be amenable to your control, but will likely continue or worsen without treatment. The best treatment for depression, as well as for other mental illnesses, is a combination of medication and talking therapy. The medication provides a chemical control over mood (feelings) and thoughts; it puts a floor, admittedly artificial, under your mood to prevent the downward spiral, sometimes into suicide. That enables the face-to-face relationship with another person skilled in helping to provide the sufferer with ways to deal with ongoing life stresses.
What Do I Do?
If 5 of these symptoms apply to you, see your primary care physician right away, then look for counseling help. Ask your doctor, nurse practitioner, friend, or pastor for a recommendation. Even if you don’t have all 5, you may want to inquire about those symptoms you do have, especially if they last longer than you expect. If you tell yourself, “I should feel better by now,” find someone to help.
[Sources: http://www.healthline.com/health/depression/statistics-infographic; http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/depression-types. Image: pixaby.com]