Even though the medical community has a much better understanding about depression today, there are still many myths and misconceptions surrounding this mental disorder.
1. What Is Depression?
There are different classifications for depression and therefore a variety of definitions:
– Clinical depression is defined as a mood disorder where negative emotions such as sadness, grief, frustration and general melancholia affect a person’s ability to function normally for a period in excess of 2 weeks.
– Persistent depressive disorder consists of the same symptoms as clinical depression but are present for a period in excess of two years.
– Postpartum depression (also called post-natal or perinatal depression and commonly referred to as baby blues) is a short term disorder that takes place in women shortly after delivery of a baby.
– Manic depressive disorder, normally related to bipolar disorder, presents with extremes highs (manic episodes) followed by extreme lows (depressive episodes).
– Reactive depression is in response to a specific event or series of events, normally of a traumatic nature. Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is commonly associated with this type of depression which can be short or long term.
– Seasonal depression is in reaction to the seasons where symptoms appear mainly in the colder months of the year or in those living in cold climates.
Depression is not a disease, but rather a disorder but may also be a symptom of other ailments, illnesses, medications or injuries.
2. What Causes depression?
There are a variety of different causes of depression:
– An inability to cope mentally or emotionally with daily stress or specific stressful or traumatic events.
– A hormonal imbalance that results in mood swings and depression.
– A chemical imbalance in the brain or body.
– Injury to the brain or central nervous system.
– Substance abuse.
Any one of these causes or more than one cause can result in depression. Diagnosis involves the identification of the type of depression as well as the causes in order to treat the symptoms effectively.
3. What Are The Symptoms Of Depression?
Symptoms may vary in severity in individual patients and may include:
– Feelings of hopelessness, unworthiness and low self-confidence.
– Sleep disorders such as insomnia or an inability to sleep or wanting to sleep excessively. This is often combined with lethargy or a lack of energy.
– A lack of appetite or eating excessively.
– Lack of interest in social interactions and daily activities.
– Other unwarranted emotions such as anger, frustration, irritability and self loathing.
– Suicidal thoughts and behaviors.
Not all symptoms are present in each individual diagnosed with depression.
4. Treatment For Depression
There are different treatment options for depression. In most cases, talk therapy or behavioral therapy with a counselor, psychologist or other type of therapist is common in conjunction with medication (antidepressants) prescribed by a psychiatrist.
However, alternative therapies such as a change in lifestyle, meditation, massage, aromatherapy, acupuncture, etc. may also be helpful in treating the disorder.
A good understanding about depression can improve diagnosis and treatment results from a qualified medical practitioner or therapist.