Major Depressive Disorder – What It Is (and What It’s Not)
What is Major Depression?
Major depression, also know as clinical depression, is an illness which surpasses the temporary feelings of sadness and the blues. Depression is a serious illness affecting an individual’s thoughts, feelings, behaviors, mood, and physical health. Depression is different for each individual. Depression in not a temporary or short-term condition comparable to having a bad week or feeling upset at your boyfriend but is compromised of a multitude of disruptive symptoms (see below). People diagnosed with depression have an illness that is life-long or long-term with depression periods that may be reoccurring or ongoing. Some individuals may have one episode in their lifetime but more often an individual will have recurrent or ongoing episodes.
Five to eight percent of adults in the United States, or about 25 million individuals, are affected by depression each year. Sadly only about half of these individuals receive the treatment they need. Treatment can reduce the amount of and intensity of symptoms an individual will experience (see below). Depression left untreated can largely impair a person’s life and even lead to suicide.
(Source: National Alliance of Mental Illness)
Warning Signs of Depression
- Persistent sad or empty feelings
- Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
- Restlessness and irritability
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies an individual enjoyed in the past, including sex
- Decreased energy or excessive fatigue
- Insomnia or a marked increase or decrease in sleep
- Increased or decreased food intake
- Thoughts of death and or suicide
- Difficulty with attention and concentration
- Substance abuse
- Self-criticism and low self-esteem, feelings of shame and guilt
- High levels of anxiety
- Withdrawal from usual friends and activities
(Source: Mayo Clinic and National Institute of Mental Illness)
Treatment for Depression
- Psychotherapy such as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy or Interpersonal Therapy
- Medications, mostly antidepressants, which have proved very safe and effective for treating depression symptoms
- Inpatient or Residential Treatment
- Support Groups
- Electroconvulsive Therapy
(Source: National Institute of Mental Illness)
False: Depression will never get better.
Depression is a devastating illness and can seriously impair an individuals but it is not a life curse. Out of all mental illnesses depression has the most effective treatments and treatments that are available, making depression very treatable. Early detection, diagnosis, and treatment are invaluable for a person struggling with depression.
False: Depression is a phase.
Depression is not a stage or phase an individual will out grow of. The longer an individual struggles with depression and does not receive care, the more ones life can be impaired and at risk. Professional help is always needed. Research shows half of people who die by suicide are experiencing depression. Depression is not something to underestimate and let it take its own course.
False: Depression is a choice.
Depression affects all ages, genders, ethnicity, countries… it does not discriminate. Our brain sends messages through brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for regulating moods, sleep, stress, and appetite. In depression an individual is not able to access a sufficient combination of neurotransmitters, especially serotonin. Depression is genetic and environmental, or for the psychology minded both nature and nurture. So in no way is depression a choice.
If you think yourself or someone you know is battling depression seek help today; it is out there. If you are having thoughts of hurting yourself or someone else please call 1-800-273-8255. You can also call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room. Remember there is no shame in seeking help, on the contrary it takes great strength.
These are the facts and This is Where I Stand