When you are depressed you can feel very alone. However, 16% of Americans will become depressed sometime during their lifetime.
Depression can affect anyone:
Women – almost twice as likely to become depressed as men. This may be partly due to the hormonal changes brought on by pregnancy, menstruation, menopause, and puberty.
Men – more apt to go undiagnosed and less likely to seek help.. They may mask their condition with alcohol or other substances or with hostile or angry behavior. Men are more likely than women to kill themselves due to their being less likely to seek help.
Elderly – Changes in physical condition and losses in heir lives can contribute to depression in older people. Loved ones may see the signs of depression as the normal consequences of aging. Thus they may go untreated.
Symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder
Each person experiences depression in their own way. One person may sleep all the time and another may not be able to sleep at all. One person may eat a lot and another may have a hard time eating anything. However, if you are depressed, you know how it feels for you. A diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder, commonly known as depression, involves having a depressed mood every day for at least two weeks, plus at least four of the following symptoms in the same time frame:
- Loss of energy, feeling tired all the time
- Decreased pleasure in normal activities
- Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt
- Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness
- Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain (i.e., a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month), or decrease or increase in appetite
- Recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying), recurrent suicidal thoughts without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide
- Insomnia or hypersomnia (excessive sleeping) nearly every day
- Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness.
However, depression is more than just a combination of symptoms. It is a common yet serious medical condition that can feel very overpowering and interfere with one’s ability to function. It can occur once or can repeat.
There are other mood disorder such as Dysthymia, Seasonal Affective Disorder, Postpartum Depression, and Bipolar Disorder. A qualified professional must make the appropriate diagnosis and treatment plan.
You can feel exhausted, worthless, hopeless, and helpless when you are depressed. Please realize that these feelings are part of the depression. As treatment begins to take effect, the negative thinking starts to fade. Psychotherapy, especially cognitive psychotherapy with mind-body components, is specifically designed to change the negative thoughts connected with depression.
What Causes Depression?
There is no single cause and often results from a combination of things. However, depression is not just a mental state; it is related to physical changes in the brain. Chemicals called neurotransmitters in the brain that carry signals in your brain and nerves can go out of balance. Some common factors can include:
- Family History
- Trauma and stress
- Personality factors
- Physical conditions and some medications
- Other psychological disorders
A Holistic View of Depression:
Physically – lack of vital energy, hard for physical body to perform properly.
Emotionally – fear, lack of appreciation and gratitude, inability to see positive aspects of life.
Mentally – confusion, hard time understanding ones’ experiences and putting them into perspective. Loss of meaning, value, and purpose in one’s own experience.
Spiritually – feeling disconnected from the Self, from the source of life, or wisdom and of universal love.
Holistic Psychotherapy treats all of the above aspects of experience.
First Aid for Depression
- Try being with others, even though you may not feel like it. It is better for you
- It is hard to be objective, so don’t make any important decisions.
- Be kind to yourself, and take care of yourself just as you would with any illness.
- If you can, try and get some mild exercise.
- Remember that the negative thinking is the depression talking.
- Get proper diagnosis and a personalized treatment plan from a professional. It is much easier to recover when you get the help you need.
There is no need to suffer when help is readily available.