Depression is an illness that can take multiple forms. If you have depression, your symptoms can also wax and wane over time and occur alongside other mental health conditions such as anxiety. While everyone feels down in the dumps sometimes, depression is a lingering, intense sadness that can take the joy out of life and interfere with your executive function.
The feelings of hopelessness and emptiness caused by depression may make it a struggle for you to get out of bed or do the activities you usually enjoy. Depression has far-reaching consequences, affecting more than your mood alone. When you are depressed, you may have trouble sleeping or concentrating on tasks; experience physical symptoms such as body aches or digestive problems; and have intrusive thoughts about self-harm or suicide. If you suspect you have depression, what are some things you should know?
Types of Depression
Like all mental health disorders, depression is not your fault, and it can happen to anyone. You can have a loving family, a fulfilling job and otherwise be in good health, but still struggle with emotions like worthlessness and despair. Sometimes, depression results from a specific event, such as the death of a family member. However, even if you can’t pinpoint a specific cause of your depression, that doesn’t make it any less genuine.
One pervasive misconception surrounding depression is that it only happens to fragile people who only feel low because they aren’t tough enough to shake it off. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Depression is not something that goes away by itself, and if you don’t take steps to address it, it will probably continue getting worse.
- Major depressive disorder: People with this form of depression experience symptoms most of the day, every day.
- Persistent depressive disorder: PDD, also known as dysthymia, is a chronic type of depression characterized by a lack of motivation, feelings of hopelessness, low self-worth and overall unhappiness. It’s less acute than clinical depression, but can still make your outlook seem bleak.
- Bipolar disorder: Bipolar, formerly called manic depression, features mood swings that vacillate between extreme highs and lows. Some people with bipolar disorder also have symptoms of psychosis, such as delusions and hallucinations.
- Postpartum depression: Postpartum depression affects brand-new parents and may cause you to have trouble bonding with or taking care of your newborn baby.
- Seasonal depression: Seasonal affective disorder is a form of depression brought on by changing seasons. Most people with SAD experience their symptoms in fall and winter as a result of decreased natural light and a change in their body’s circadian rhythms.
Receiving a Depression Diagnosis
If you have felt sad, hopeless and bleak for two weeks or longer with little to no improvement, experienced marked changes in your energy and enthusiasm levels, become socially withdrawn or had frequent thoughts of harming yourself, a depression screening can be a helpful starting point for determining whether you have depression. While screening tools are not an alternative to an official medical diagnosis, they can help you gauge your symptoms’ severity and how your emotions affect your daily life.
People who suspect they might have depression can make an appointment with their general practitioner. A doctor can do a physical exam and conduct tests to determine whether your symptoms indicate depression or another disorder. Your doctor might also refer you to a therapist or suggest techniques you can use for managing your depression, such as taking antidepressants or getting more exercise.
Be honest with your doctor about your feelings and what you are going through, including any substances you rely on to self-medicate. The presence of a dual diagnosis like depression and substance use disorder requires a specialized treatment plan.
Request Help Today
While there is no cure for depression, you can learn to manage your symptoms and go on to lead a healthier, more enjoyable life. If you are struggling with your mental health, please reach out to the New Found Life team to get help today.