What Is Depression?
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What Is Depression?

What is Depression?


Clinical depression affects millions of people. Learn more about one of the most common mental health conditions.

Equipped with helpful information below, you can understand how depression impacts you or a loved one.

What is Depression?


Depression is a mental health disorder that impacts one’s mood and daily functioning. According to the World Health Organization, more than 264 million people are affected by depression. It is one of the most common mental illnesses affecting people.


As a diagnosis, it is called major depression disorder and is a cluster of symptoms from loss of interest in daily activities to trouble with concentration. Someone may have a single period in their life that they experience depression, have several episodes, or chronic depression.





What are the causes of depression?


Depression, also called Clinical Depression, does not have a single cause or can sometimes there is not a known “cause” for one’s depression. There are factors that increase one’s likelihood of experiencing depression such as abuse, certain medications, grieving a loss, family history of depression, major life stressors, serious illnesses, or substance abuse.


One’s view of self or easily overwhelmed by stress also have a more likely of a chance to experience depression.




How does Depression affect human behavior?


Depression impacts daily activity such as relationships with others, school, work, and/or getting chores done around the house. People with depression commonly experience strong feelings of sadness. In extreme cases, people with depression can also experience suicidal thoughts.


Untreated clinical depression is one of the risk factors of multiple health conditions, including pregnancy issues, and heart attacks.




What are the symptoms of Depression?



Depression also can impact sleep, eating, and one’s ability to take care of themselves. We all experience low moods or sadness, but depression differs due to the duration of the depressed mood and other side effects that accompany it.


The Symptoms for depression include:

1. Depressed mood most of the daily or nearly every day
2. Loss of interest or pleasure in activities that use to bring joy
3. Weight loss or gain
4. Insomnia or hypersomnia
5. Fatigue or loss of energy
6. Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt
7. Inability to concentrate
8. Thoughts of death or suicide


Why am I so depressed

What are the best ways to treat depression?


The best way to treat depression is psychotherapy (also known as talk therapy), medication, or a combination of the two. First, it is important to identify how symptoms (depressed mood, insomnia, loss of energy, etc.) are impacting your life.


If there are other factors such as substance use or relational problems, there may be more specialized mental health services necessary such as in-patient mental health services or family counseling. If you are seeking psychotherapy services, it is important to have a good connection with your provider and believe in the treatment process.


For those with chronic depression, there are other treatments such as Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). These are treatments directly stimulating the brain with electric currents or magnetic pulses. This is an option for some individuals with chronic depression when other treatment options have not worked.





How long does it take to treat depression?


Depression treatment varies depending on the severity and if there are other factors contributing to the depression such as PTSD, alcoholism, or trauma. If you have a history of trauma or substance use, there may be grief or suppressed emotions contributing to the depression. It is important to have consistent and goal-oriented treatment to treat depression timely.


Treatment also depends on the help you are seeking. Therapists have different approaches to how they treat clients and you may have additional goals in therapy that can add additional time to your treatment. Prescribers, such as Katie Schroeder, approach it from a medical and integrative health perspective.


Medications may take some time to get the correct medications and dosage. Some medications have effects that can be noticed within a day or two while other medications can take 3-4 weeks to have noticeable effects.





What are the different types of depression?


Major Depressive Disorder is the psychiatric diagnosis for depression. There are different levels of severity and other features that can be included in the diagnosis. For example, one may be diagnosed with major depressive disorder with anxious distress, seasonal pattern, or atypical features.


A diagnosis can be given as a single episode or recurrent episode if there has been another point in one’s life where depression was present.


Additional Depressive Disorder Diagnoses Include:


Premenstrual Dysmorphic Disorder is a diagnosis given to females who experience severe depression, irritability, and tension in relation to their menstrual cycle. This disorder is a severe extension to premenstrual syndrome (PMS). It impacts one’s daily functioning and symptoms typically begin a week or two prior to when a female’s period starts.


Persistent Depression Disorder (Dysthymia) is a diagnosis that is a minor form of depression but occurs for at least two years. The symptoms are similar to depression but the difference is the long duration of this disorder. It is less severe than major depression, but those that experience it can go into major depressive episodes.


Bipolar Disorders have a depression component. In bipolar, one experiences mood swings that may rarely occur or occurs multiple times a year. In order to be diagnosed with bipolar, a person has depressed moods along with a single or multiple manic or hypomanic episodes. It is important to talk to a mental health professional to identify if manic symptoms occur along with depression symptoms for more concise treatment.


Another common area of depression is postpartum depression. Females can be diagnosed with a depression disorder with peripartum onset if they are experiencing depression in conjunction with their pregnancy or post-pregnancy.


People with Dissociative Disorders also commonly experience depression, among other health conditions.




What medications treat depression? 


Anti-depressants are often prescribed for depression which include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), tricyclic antidepressants, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), and atypical antidepressants.


Other medications are prescribed as well and are based on your diagnoses collectively for your physical and mental health. It is best to talk about your medication, side effects, and symptom management with your primary doctor or prescribing provider.





Who is more likely to be depressed?



Women are twice as likely as men to experience depression. Depression has been found to have genetic components, therefore, if there is a family history of depression, this increases one’s likelihood of experiencing depression.


Oftentimes, depression is comorbid with another disorder. Comorbidity is when an individual has two diagnoses co-occurring. According to a study by Steffen et al. for those who have a lifetime history of depression, about 50-60% also report a history of an anxiety disorder and 57% report an alcohol or drug use disorder.


Having a history of trauma and/or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), increases one’s likelihood of having depression due to the impact of trauma on one’s mental functioning. When a person experiences a traumatic event, their body provokes an emotional and physical distress response which sometimes persists and leads to depression.






Does depression count as a disability?


Depression is considered a psychiatric disability if it is severely impacting one’s daily functioning. According to the Medical Health Today, the World Health Organization reports depression being the main cause of disability in the world. Severe depression can impact one’s ability to work and take care of themselves.


To qualify for disability, a person must meet the requirements created by the Social Security Administration (SSA).






Disclaimer: ALL IN Therapy Clinic aims to improve people’s lives through providing effective mental health counseling by passionate professionals. We publish quality material for your own education. Our publications are researched, cited, reviewed, and edited by licensed mental health professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of a qualified healthcare provider.




Written and reviewed by

Dr Kyle Zrenchik, PhD, ACS, LMFT

Dr. Kyle Zrenchik is the Co-Founder of ALL IN, the Creator of the Couples Erotic Flow model for treating sexual issues in individuals and couples, Designer of the Deep Dive programs at ALL IN, and is one of the most well-respected couples counselors in the Twin Cities.

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