Depression is a disorder that can seriously affect the body, mood, and thoughts of a person experiencing this sometimes debilitating disease. It can permeate every aspect of life, disturbing a person’s ability to eat, sleep, think, and function. Depression is not the same as being a little sad or blue over a specific event. The feelings associated with Depression are persistent and chronic, and the person suffering with Depression cannot simply pull themselves out of the way that they are feeling.
The symptoms associated with Depression include:
- Persistent sad or “empty” mood.
- A feeling of negativity, pessimism or hopelessness.
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and helplessness.
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities that were once enjoyed.
- Feelings of fatigue or being “slowed down.”
- Trouble concentrating, staying focused or making decisions.
- Feelings of restlessness or irritability.
- Loss of appetite and weight or increased appetite and weight gain
- Difficulty managing mood swings
- Avoidance of family members and friends
- Insomnia and/or oversleeping.
- Thoughts of death or suicide.
There are different types of depression. Major (Clinical) Depression is characterized by a combination of the above symptoms that are severe enough to impair the ability to work, study, sleep, eat, and enjoy life. Some people may experience an episode of Major Depression only once, but many experience several over the course of a lifetime.
Dysthymia is less severe than a Major Depressive episode. This form of Depression involves long-term, chronic manifestations of the above symptoms in way that does not completely disable the sufferer but still keeps them from functioning well or enjoying life.
Bipolar Disorder involves a cycle of mood changes from excessive highs to equally excessive lows. A person with Bipolar Disorder may experience a Manic phase during which they feel “on top of the world,” followed by a Major Depressive episode.
Other common forms of depression include mood disorder, post-partum depression and cyclothemia.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 9.5 percent of the population experiences some form of Depression within any given year. If you, your spouse, your children or a friend have experienced episodes of depression, there is more than a 60% chance that it will recur within the next 3 years. If left untreated, the disorder can become chronic and may increase in severity with each episode. Depression can cause untold loss in productivity and seriously affect the sufferer’s life as well as the lives of those who love them. While there is help available, many never seek it. Psychotherapy, prescription medications, and natural alternatives are some of the options open for those looking for relief from Depression.