Major depression is a treatable illness that affects the way a person thinks, feels, behaves, and functions. Research into this condition shows that 3 to 5 percent of the population suffers from major depression, and the lifetime risk of suffering from depression can be as high as 17%.
This is why various governmental reports now show depression has surpassed HIV, AIDS, Malaria, Diabetes, and war as the leading cause of disability worldwide. Similarly, the CDC estimates that 1 in 4 of all American adults will suffer from mental illness every year.
Based on these findings, it is reasonable to assume that either you or someone in your family or even someone you know has experienced depression, although they may not talk about it.
Causes of Depression
There are many causes of depression, including environmental, genetic predisposition, and other things, but the uniqueness of each individual and their circumstances make it almost impossible to isolate the root cause of the illness in general. Nonetheless, we do know that in approximately 80% of cases, the initial trigger is a stress-related factor.
Many people suffer a series of losses, such as the loss of a job, followed by the death of a loved one, and even the end of a relationship. It is completely understandable that when a difficult chain of events such as these occurs, depression would set in.
A major depressive episode may include these symptoms:
Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism
Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities, including sex
Decreased energy, fatigue, and feeling “slowed down.”
Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
Thoughts of death or suicide, suicide attempts
Dysthymia -Persistent Depressive Disorder
Dysthymia, also known as persistent depressive disorder, is a low depressive mood that has occurred for at least two years. Persons dealing with Dysthymia will usually experience at least two of the following symptoms:
A sense of hopelessness
A low appetite
Dysthymia and major depressive disorders have many symptoms in common.
Physical symptoms of depression
When an individual is depressed, it can result in that individual losing interest in almost everything in your life. Not wanting to do the things that they usually did regularly and not knowing why.
There is no vitality in life. Everything feels like too much work; even the simplest of things, like eating, can seem overwhelming. At times, individuals feeling depressed will lie frozen and not feel or be willing to call anyone or do anything.
There are also several physical manifestations of depression that may or may not be present. Not everyone will have all or some of these physical symptoms. Here are some of the common physical symptoms that have been noted:
Depression can have both physical and mental effects. It is not uncommon for people dealing with depression to have trouble falling or staying asleep. Also, in other cases, individuals may find that they are now sleeping too much when compared to their normal amount prior to the depression.
Pain is a symptom of depression. However, when chest pain is present, it is very important first to see your primary physician to rule out any physical problems associated with your heart, lungs, or stomach. Nonetheless, persons who have experienced heart attacks are more likely to be depressed. Similarly, research is showing that depression can also raise your risk of heart disease.
Exhaustion and Fatigue
Persons suffering from depression will often report feeling so tired that they can’t find the energy to do basic everyday tasks. No amount of sleep or rest seems to help. Depression and fatigue occur together and tend to become worse over time.
Aching Muscles and Joints
Depression and pain share the same chemical messengers in the brain. This is why people who are depressed are three times as likely to get regular pain. Likewise, a person living with ongoing pain has an increased risk of developing depression.
The brain-gut connection has been well documented. It is now understood that this is why we experience stomachaches or nausea when we’re stressed or worried. Depression can affect the gut, causing nausea, indigestion, diarrhea, or constipation.
One study shows that people with major depression are three times more likely to have migraines, and people with migraines are five times more likely to get depressed.
Changes in Appetite or Weight
Some people who become depressed feel less hungry, while others can’t stop eating. The result can be weight gain or loss, along with a lack of energy. We now know that depression has been linked to eating disorders like bulimia, anorexia, or binge eating.
Research has shown that people who are depressed may be four times more likely to get intense, disabling neck or back pain. Nonetheless, it is important to have a physical examination to rule out any other medical issues when it comes to back pain.
Irritable, Agitated, and Restless
Sleep problems or other depression symptoms can make you feel this way. Men are more likely than women to be irritable when they’re depressed.
Individuals suffering from depression might lose interest in sex. A common side effect of some prescription drugs that treat depression is their effect on sexual drive and performance. This is why it is important to talk to your doctor about medication options.
Depression (mood) is much more than sadness
You may logically understand that this is not logical, and you should be able to pull yourself out of the mental state you presently are in.
However, no matter how much you try, you can’t get out of it, or worse, you have slipped into a deeper depression. But you may want to feel less and do less.
Then, the anxiety may slip in, lasting for a long time.
Maybe, I will just push through it on my own
It is possible, but many times, you are going to lose that time in your life, and that is something that you can never get back. Also, shutting out the depression or trying to convince yourself that it is not a factor that only strengthens the depression. Depression tends to fluctuate over time, making it difficult for the individual suffering from this condition to address the illness objectively.
The offices of Ginny Estupinian Ph.D. ABPP can help.
When you work with my offices, you will have access to the latest techniques and technology to help you find relief from depression.
We will begin by hearing about your specific symptoms of depression. Next, we will review daily moods, behaviors (sleep and eating patterns), and lifestyles. We will also review family history and medical issues. When necessary, we may utilize various psychological assessments to help in the diagnosis. We will also look to see if other issues can be involved, including bipolar disorder (manic depression) or some other type of clinical depression.
All these procedures will help us determine whether you have major depression or chronic depression (including dysthymia).
Please know that many treatment approaches are available to treat the various types of depression, including non-drug treatments and medications, as well as a combination of both.
I will work closely with your primary physician and psychiatrist to give you the best coordinated medical treatment. Many of my clients don’t have a psychiatrist they can work with. In those cases, I can refer you to one that will meet your needs. Through this process, you will learn how to work through depression, which is one way to form resilience to depression.
Get vitality back in your life.