Understanding Depression: Why It’s More Than a Bad Case of the Blues
Everyone feels sad or down now and then. We may say we’ve got the blues or we’re feeling blue. Feeling sad for an extended period of time, though, can mean that something more serious is going on, such as depression. By understanding depression, including its causes and symptoms, you can get the treatment you need to live a fuller life.
What is Depression?
Depression is considered a mood disorder. According to the Mayo Clinic, it “causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest.” This means that the feelings associated with depression are so severe that they interfere with your everyday activities.
What Causes Depression?
According to the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH), there are several reasons why someone develops depression. These can include:
- Genetics and Biology: Having a family history of depression.
- Significant Life Events: These include stress, life changes, or trauma.
- Medical Reasons: Such as from a physical illness or from medications.
Because so many people are exposed to these risks, it should come as no surprise that depression is one of the most common mental health conditions in the United States. Over 15 million Americans struggle with depression. It affects people from all walks of life regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, or income.
What are the Symptoms of Depression?
The NIMH lists the symptoms of depression as:
- Persistent feelings of sadness, emptiness, or anxiousness
- Lack of energy and fatigue
- Trouble with concentration and memory
- Change in appetite and body weight
- Feeling worthless, guilty, or helpless
- Trouble sleeping: either oversleeping or not getting enough sleep each night
- Thoughts of suicide, attempting suicide, or death
Note that you don’t have to have all of these symptoms to be depressed.
Therapy for Depression
One way you can find relief from depression is through traditional talk therapy practices. Therapy can help you:
- Discuss your thoughts and feelings.
- Develop an understanding of why you have depression.
- Identify what triggers an episode of depression for you.
- Develop skills to help you cope with depression.
- Learn communication tools that allow you to express what you are feeling.
- Address health and nutrition issues, which may also play a role in depression.
Medication for Depression
Another option for treating depression is medication. Antidepressants can help you fight depression by addressing chemical imbalances in the brain. In addition:
- Antidepressant medications are non-habit forming.
- Antidepressants are not sedatives.
- Antidepressants have few, if any, side effects.
Medication, when supervised by a psychiatrist, helps address the biological and chemical causes of the condition. This can then help free you from the cloud of depression that hangs over you, as you become more receptive and open to therapy.
Besides therapy and medication, there are lifestyle changes that you can make that have an impact on depression. They include:
- Eating healthy meals in appropriate portions.
- Physical exercise daily.
- Avoid isolating yourself, reach out to friends and family.
- Participating in activities that you enjoy.
- Getting enough sleep at night and maintaining a consistent sleep schedule.
- Being active in clubs and community activities.
- Participating in support groups for people who have depression.
- Avoiding smoking and consuming alcohol.
Making positive changes to your life not only helps you fight depression, it can improve your overall health as well.
Depression is more than simply feeling sad or having a case of the blues. It is a mood disorder that, if left untreated, will have serious consequences. However, depression doesn’t have to overtake your life. There is hope. Find relief from depression through a combination of therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes that will allow you to find satisfaction, enjoyment, and the ability to feel better about your life.
For more information about depression and depression treatment through counseling, please call me at 760-564-5900 or contact me.