Depression a Closer Look

depression 1It is perfectly natural for us to sometimes feel down. However, if this low mood tends to linger for days, this could be a sign of depression. When someone has major depression they will experience episodes of apathy or sadness that comes with other symptoms that often last a minimum of two weeks straight. This depression can be severe enough to even get in the way of normal daily activities.

Suffering from depression doesn’t mean it’s a sign of weakness or something negative about one’s personality. It’s a mental health problem that can be treated.

Primary Symptoms

The most common symptoms of depression include feeling sad along with a loss of interest in what one normally enjoys doing. Those activities that were enjoyed suddenly seem to lose the appeal they once had. Many patients might also suffer from a sense of worthlessness, hopelessness, guilt, and may even have recurring thoughts of suicide.

Not only are there emotional symptoms but there are also physical symptoms that often come along with depression that include:

  • Decrease in energy levels and fatigue
  • Trouble sleeping and often rising very early in the morning
  • Sleeping too much
  • Continual aches and pains, headaches, digestive problems, and/or cramps

When a person is suffering from health issues, depression can make these health issues feel even worse, especially for those suffering from chronic pain. This is because there are chemicals in the brain that influence our pain and our moods.


When a person is depressed it may also affect their appetite and their weight. Some who suffer from depression can either have an increase in appetite and will gain weight. Others may have no appetite and can’t eat and will then tend to lose weight.

Daily Life

When a patient is suffering from depression if it’s bad enough it can, without any treatment, can actually cause turmoil in their daily lives. This means it can cause problems at work, relationships, and even all daily activities. Those who suffer from depression sometimes find it very hard to concentrate and even make simple decisions. They will often stop engaging in their favorite activities and when extremely severe it can be life-threatening.

Suicide Signs

Those who are suffering from depression are ones who are more likely to think about and even try to commit suicide. Some of the warning signs can be talking about suicide and death often. Threats to hurt other people or they are often found engaging in risky or aggressive behaviors. Anyone who might seem to be suicidal needs to be taken seriously and there should be no hesitation in contacting a local suicide hotline.

Who Might Be at Risk?

The truth is, any person can suffer from depression. Some experts, however, do believe that genetics can play some sort of role in developing depression. If someone has a sibling or a parent that suffers from depression, this can increase their risk of developing depression themselves. Also, women tend to be twice as likely to suffer from depression than men.

What Causes Depression?

Most experts still aren’t sure what really causes depression. However, there is a prominent theory that there has been some sort of alteration of the brain chemical functions and structure of the brain. There are brain circuits that help to regulate our moods that might work a lot less effective when someone is depressed. The drugs that are often used to treat depression seems to help improve the communication between these nerve cells of the brain and helps them run a  more “normal” level.

Some experts also believe that even though stressful situations might trigger depression, a person still must be biologically prone to develop depression. Other things that might trigger depression can include some types of medications, substance abuse, including alcohol abuse, hormonal changes, and sometimes even the changing seasons can have an effect.

Seasonal Depression

Seasonal depression is something that does exist. If a persons mood matches the seasons, like happy and sunny during the summer, and then gloomy and sad during the winter months, they’re suffering from a type of depression that is called SAD or seasonal affective disorder. Those who suffer from this will generally notice it starting late fall or early winter as the days grow shorter. Experts say that this type of depression affects anywhere from 3% to 20% of people, depending on where they might live.

Postpartum Depression

Once called the “baby blues” is a type of depression that affects on the average three out of four mothers after birth. Of those, almost 12% of these mothers can often suffer from an extremely darker mood that can linger. The symptoms are the same as with major depression. But the big difference here is that the well-being of the baby could be at stake if the mother goes untreated. When a mother is severely depressed she may not be able to enjoy or even bond with her new baby.

Diagnosis of Depression

To this very day, there still is no lab test that can diagnose depression. In order to make a good diagnosis, a doctor will have to solely rely on the symptoms that their patients describe to them. A doctor will ask patients about their medication and medical history which may add to their signs of depression. They will discuss moods, their daily activities, and their moods in order to try and reveal how severe the depression is and what type of depression it might be.

Talking Therapies for Depression

Research has shown that different kinds of talking therapies can help patients to fight their mild to moderate bouts of depression. CBT is a talking therapy that has goals to help change behaviors and thoughts that can often contribute to a patients depression. Interpersonal Therapy is a therapy that can identify how a patients relationship can impact their moods. Psychodynamic Psychotherapy is a talking therapy that tries to help patients understand how their moods and behaviors can be affected by any issues that are unresolved and discover unconscious feelings they may be having. Some people with depression find that a few months of therapy is all they need, while others may continue on for a longer time period.

Medications Used for Depression

Most often patients who are depressed will be given anti-depressants that will affect the levels of chemicals in the brain. This would be serotonin and norepinephrine which the brain produces naturally. There are several different options and it may take time to find just the right one. Many anti-depressants need several weeks in order to take effect on the person taking them. This is why it’s important to have follow-ups with the doctor prescribing the medications so they can evaluate how effective the drugs are. Combining medication along with therapy seems to be quite effective for most people suffering from depression.

Exercise Often Prescribed for Depression

Researchers have shown that exercise seems to be a good weapon for those suffering from mild or moderate depression. This is because exercise helps to release endorphins, in turn, these endorphins will aid in boosting moods. If a person exercises on a regular basis they often tend to sleep better, feel less stressed out, have more energy, and may have higher self-esteem. Any kind of activity can help from housework to swimming. It is suggested that a patient pick something they enjoy doing and then try to do it a minimum of 20 minutes four to five times each week.

Pets Can Help

Research shows that a person who brings a pet into depression help with petstheir home may be able to alleviate some of their depression. Research has found that pets seem to be able to ease the symptoms of depression for those suffering from mild or moderate depression. Pets offer people love that is unconditional, they relieve feelings of loneliness and can give people a good sense of purpose. Many people who own pets tend to sleep better and their overall health seems to be better.

Social Support

Loneliness can lead to depression, so it’s important to have a social network to offer support. Joining a support group or even an online support group can help people to feel less lonely which in turn can help with their depression. It’s also suggested that people who are depressed try to join a gym, book club, community sport, or volunteer work. Getting involved in a community event can be important in treating depression.



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