If you aren’t suffering from depression, the odds are good that you know someone who is. According to the World Health Organization, 300 million people worldwide have this debilitating condition. The illness affects more women than men and can lead to suicidal thoughts in severe cases. In fact, 800,000 people die from depression-related suicides each year.
The statistics surrounding depression are grim, but the good news is that you don’t have to suffer in silence. The first step in getting depression help is admitting that you need assistance.
Signs of Depression
A common condition, depression results in physical and emotional problems that affect the way individuals feel, think, and act.
You’ve probably heard the expression that depression has many faces. With that in mind, people who suffer from depression experience myriad symptoms. Here are some ways depression can impact your daily life:
- Sad, empty, anxious, or hopeless feelings
- Outbursts of anger or frustration
- Lack of interest in activities you previously enjoyed
- Exhaustion, trouble sleeping, or a habit of sleeping too much
- Increase or decrease in appetite
- Problems with concentration, decision-making, or memory
- Thoughts of suicide
- Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches
Types of Depression
Most of us have days when we feel mopey, blue, or out of sorts. However, if you’re experiencing persistent or severe depression, you should consider seeking medical attention. A doctor or therapist can help you determine whether you’re suffering from a temporary condition or a more severe form of clinical depression that requires treatment.
Here are some of the most common types of depression along with their distinguishing traits:
- Major depression is what you probably think of when a friend or loved one says he’s depressed. Patients with this condition often experience feelings of worthlessness, trouble sleeping, and a loss of interest in daily activities. In some cases, patients with major depression have thoughts of suicide, so getting depression help is crucial.
- While some cases of depression are temporary and occur in response to traumatic events or loss, others can last for years or decades. Persistent depressive disorder refers to any depressive period lasting two years of more.
- A type of depression affecting women who have just given birth, postpartum depression involves severe feelings of depression and anxiety. In some cases, women with this condition may struggle to care for themselves or their infants.
- Seasonal affective disorder tends to impact patients during the cold-weather months. Believed to result from a reduced exposure to sunlight, SAD symptoms tend to improve in the spring and summer.
- Psychotic depression is a serious condition in which patients can suffer hallucinations, delusions, and feelings of paranoia. According to Healthline, around 20% of patients with depression also experience psychosis.
If you think you’re suffering from one of the above types of depression, don’t hesitate to seek treatment. And if you need immediate help, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).
Seeking Help for Depression
Multiple treatments exist to help depression patients reduce symptoms and improve quality of life. However, finding the right therapy regimen can be a complicated process, and individuals often have to try different options to achieve positive results.
Many people with depression benefit from taking antidepressants and other medications. SSRIs, or selective serotonin reputative inhibitors, work by boosting serotonin levels. By stopping the reabsorption of serotonin, these drugs make more of the substance available in the brain. Additionally, your doctor may prescribe drugs to reduce anxiety, improve sleep, and alleviate psychosis.
Along with medication, depression patients should consider psychotherapy. While interpersonal and problem-solving therapies are sometimes recommended, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most popular approach. The goal of CBT is to alleviate depression symptoms by modifying behaviors, thoughts, and feelings and breaking larger problems down into smaller ones that can be easily managed.
Lifestyle Changes for the Treatment of Depression
Many patients also rely on lifestyle adjustments to ease their depression symptoms. Along with staying active and getting plenty of exercise, individuals should eat a healthy diet and resist the urge to isolate themselves during difficult periods.
Additionally, you can consider taking amino acids and other supplements known to relieve depression symptoms and improve overall wellness. For example, L-tyrosine may help with the synthesis of the neurotransmitters epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine. The latter two are believed to have an antidepressant effect on patients.