Identifying Depression – Depression Prevention and Recovery Tips
Everyone feels down from time to time, but many people also experience a more serious mood condition called depression, major depressive disorder, or chronic sadness. While depression may seem very similar to normal sadness, it is a very serious disorder. Anyone experiencing depression needs support and help from their friends and family members more than anything else! However, identifying depression – as well as determining how best to pursue Depression Recovery – can be very difficult. If you think you’re experiencing depression, know that you aren’t alone and that help is available. This page will explore how you can learn to identify depression in yourself or others and how you can pursue recovery resources for depression in Tarrant County and beyond.
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What is depression?
According to the National Institute of Mental Health Conditions, the American Psychiatric Association, and other key medical organizations, depression isn’t just “feeling sad” or “having the blues”. Depression is a serious mood disorder.
It results in a persistent feeling of loss of interest or pleasure and/or sadness. It’s not the same thing as feeling down – loss of your general energy or spark that can be debilitating at best and lead to long-term consequences at worst.
A major depressive disorder doesn’t just affect your mood; it can affect how you think, how you behave, and the types of choices you make over time. Because of this, depression is a very serious condition.
However, it’s also crucial to know that depression isn’t a “weakness”, nor does it mean that there is something wrong with you or another person. Anyone can become depressed, and depression has multiple root causes or catalysts that are still being understood by scientists and psychiatrists.
Although depression is difficult to live with, you’re not alone if you are experiencing this mood disorder. In fact, organizations like Recognize & Rise and many others can provide the support you need to deal with your depression and recover your wellness.
What are the levels of depression?
Technically, there are several levels or types of depression. Understanding these levels can help you determine whether you are experiencing long-term or clinical depression or if your depression may be temporary or driven by fluctuating factors.
• SAD or seasonal affective disorder. Depression can occur as the season changes to winter and daylight becomes scarce. The mood change can occur due to physiological changes as your body receives less sunlight
• Bipolar disorder, which can include episodes of depression. These episodes of depression are accompanied by periods of high energy or activity called manic episodes
• Persistent depressive disorder, which is depression characterized that lasts for at least two years but that doesn’t usually reach the intensity level of major depression
• Major depression, which is the clinical or most commonly recognized type of depression. It may include some of the most severe depressive symptoms
• Perinatal depression, a type of depression unique to women. It can include minor or major depressive episodes during pregnancy or in the first year after delivery. This is also known as postpartum depression
• PMDD, which is a very severe form of PMS or premenstrual syndrome. The symptoms begin shortly after ovulation and after menstruation starts
How do you determine depression?
Everyone does become depressed from time to time. But this is not the same thing as clinical “depression”. Therefore, it can be tough to know whether you or someone you love is actually experiencing depression or if they are just temporarily sad because of understandable circumstances or events.
Although most people think that depression is just intense sadness, this mood disorder has several key symptoms that distinguish it from “regular” sadness.
Depression is not easy to overcome alone. Tarrant County supports mental health services that can help you.
What is the most reliable symptom of depression?
The single most common or reliable symptom of depression is a generally hopeless or helpless outlook on life. If an individual can no longer become excited about their favorite hobbies, activities, or upcoming positive events, it may be a sign that they are clinically depressed.
This hopelessness or helpless outlook can manifest in any number of ways, including verbally, in writing, or behaviorally. A person can seem outwardly happy or content while being depressed internally.
For example, a person who receives an acceptance letter to a university they were hoping to attend but who shows no interest or excitement at the prospect of going to school may be depressed. Alternatively, a teenager who feels no interest in leaving their room or seeing their friends, despite having several high-quality relationships, may be depressed due to this lack of interest.
Other depression symptoms
Although a hopeless or helpless outlook on life is the most common symptom of depression, this mood disorder is also characterized by other symptoms including:
• General feelings of sadness or emptiness
• Anger or regularly angry outbursts, including irritability or frustration
• Loss of pleasure or interest in activities including hobbies, sports, or sex
• Sleep disturbances, including either sleeping too much or insomnia
• A general lack of energy, which can make even small tasks take a lot of personal effort
• Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased appetite and weight gain
• Restlessness, anxiety, and/or agitation
• Trouble thinking or concentrating
• Physical problems or discomfort, like headaches or back pains
• Recurring or incessant feelings of guilt or worthlessness
• Troubling recurring thoughts, such as suicidal ideation or thoughts of self-harm
No single symptom of depression is more important than another. If you have experienced any of these symptoms, or you know someone else experiencing these symptoms, you should contact support resources right away.
If a depressed person, including yourself, is experiencing suicidal ideation, call emergency services and support them as best as you can. It’s never too late to help someone with depression, nor is too late to seek help yourself!
What really causes depression?
Because depression is such a complex topic, and because depression can take several different forms as described above, the causes of depression are similarly numerous. It’s likely that there isn’t one single cause of depression to point to.
What are the three primary causes of depression?
Many scientists and psychiatrists believe that there are three primary causes of depression:
• Brain chemistry, specifically hormonal or neurotransmitter imbalances. Neurotransmitters are brain chemicals that must be kept in a specific balance for your mood to be regulated. If certain neurotransmitters are produced too frequently or not frequently enough, you may experience depressive symptoms.
• Hormonal imbalances. For many women, hormone changes from pregnancy or menstruation can lead to depressive episodes. Certain physiological conditions can cause hormone imbalances to last for weeks or months.
• Traumatic events, such as the loss of a loved one or the end of a relationship. In these cases, individuals’ lives are upended and they may feel depressed as a result of the negative events in their lives.
However, depression may also cause by things like genetic factors – some scientists believe that genetics can influence one’s predisposition for depression and other mood disorders.
Regardless, individuals with depression are never at fault for their depressive symptoms. People cannot simply “get over it” or “be happy”. Depression is largely outside your control, so it’s important to remember that you don’t need to feel bad or worthless just because you feel depressed.
But even though you feel depressed, you can lean on other people for support and try to pick up the pieces later.
What are the five risk factors for depression?
Depression may be more likely in certain individuals because of risk factors. These include:
• Genetics. Family histories of depression can make certain individuals more likely to experience depressive episodes
• A recent death or relationship loss. Grief and sadness are normal emotional reactions, but major stressors can also cause long-term depression
• Conflicts with friends and family members, which can lead to depression
• Life events, such as moving or changing your career, can also lead to depression
• Abuse, whether recent or long in the past, can bring on depressive episodes or symptoms
Can depression be prevented?
Sometimes, but not always. Many of the causes of depression cannot be anticipated or prevented. However, individuals who know they are at risk for depression can practice preventative care by:
• Surrounding themselves with friends and family members, curating a strong support group in the event of a future depressive episode
• Working with a therapist they trust over the long-term
• Taking medication if prescribed after you talk to your doctor
Depression treatment is dependent on the individual and their unique circumstances, biochemistry, and more. Some depression treatments involve medications that can help to resolve hormonal or neurochemical imbalances. Other depression treatments focus on wellness and lifestyle changes, such as removing stressors or stressful people and undertaking healthy habits like exercise.
Ultimately, treating depression is something best pursued with the guidance of a support group and mental health care professional. Recognize & Rise can help people with depression find support resources they need to treat their condition in the Tarrant County area and elsewhere in Texas.
How long does it take to treat depression?
It depends on the individual and their unique path to recovery. Some types of depression are treatable through medications and lifestyle changes, while others may take long-term therapy for ideal results.
Depression treatment can take weeks, months, or even years. But the path to recovery is always worthwhile. It can rob your life of its color and drain you of energy.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to your friends and family members for support! A strong support network is one of the best resources at your disposal to overcome the symptoms of depression and get back to your life.
The Mental Health Connection offers a variety of resources, including hotlines, connections to clinics or medical professionals like therapists, and more. You’re strong enough!
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No official endorsement by the Mental Health Connection or its membership for the information on this web site is intended or should be inferred. The materials contained on this site are made available for educational purposes only and are not meant to serve as medical advice or to replace consultation with your physician or mental health professional. Information about diagnosis and treatment that appears on this site should not be used to diagnose or treat a mental health problem. You are advised to consult a qualified mental health care provider about your personal questions or concerns. The views and opinions of authors expressed on this site do not necessarily state or reflect those of the Mental Health Connection or its membership. Links to external websites are provided for convenience of reference only and are not intended as an endorsement of the organization or a warranty of any type of information on the site.