Depression is an incredibly distressing mental illness. Contrary to the popular misconception, depression is not just a deep sadness or sense of unhappiness. Rather, it is a state in which you find it difficult to feel any pleasure at all. You struggle to understand how others can be happy, and are hyper-aware of all that is wrong in the world. You feel little motivation to do anything.
What makes it even more troubling is you might not even be able to find a cause for it. If you could identify what in particular was “wrong,” you imagine you would be able to fix it, but depression is often independent of the present circumstances of your life.
What is Depression?
Depression is a state of consistent despair, within which you’re unable to feel pleasure and find it difficult to motivate yourself to do anything. Just getting out of bed is tough, let alone going to work and being productive.
Depression is caused by a combination of chemical imbalances and life triggers. Those who have a genetic predisposition towards depression may find that it is triggered by a particular event. However, the event itself cannot fully account for the depression.
Major depression is the most common and well-known form of depression. Over 16 million American adults have experienced at least one major depressive episode. The symptoms of major depression are incredibly severe, and the person suffering experiences them throughout most of the day, every day, during the episode.
These symptoms include:
- despondency, gloom, or even an impending sense of doom
- lack of energy and motivation
- an inability to feel pleasure
- difficulty getting out of bed, even if one is unable to sleep
- thoughts of death, self-harm, and suicide
- memory problems and difficulty concentrating
- severe anxiety
An individual suffering from major depression is typically unable to function well enough to go to work or be productive in any way. They may feel a deep sense of agitation as well, which they struggle to calm.
Situational depression, also known as adjustment disorder, refers to symptoms of depression which arise in response to a particular event. This event is not just a trigger – without it the individual would not go through depression at all. When circumstances change, an individual suffering from situational depression stops feeling depressed. While it may seem easier to feel hope when suffering from situational depression, the symptoms are nonetheless incredibly distressing during the episode.
Persistent depression differs from major depression in that it is less severe but lasts longer. Individuals suffering from persistent depression may be able to function on a day-to-day basis, if less effectively and unhappily. The symptoms are similar to those of major depression but typically less severe.
Persistent depression can last for years without treatment, and can put a strain on every area of a person’s life.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), otherwise known as seasonal depression, refers to depression that arises during certain seasons. It is usually connected to the winter months, and relates to changes of bodily rhythm and a decrease in light. However, it can also be triggered by other seasons.
Perinatal depression refers to depression experienced by women during or after pregnancy. The depression which occurs after pregnancy is often referred to as postpartum depression. It is thought to be caused by hormonal changes during pregnancy, as well as loss of sleep and the physical discomfort of pregnancy.
Perinatal depression can be as severe as major depression. It can also lead to anxiety surrounding motherhood and harming the baby, although it is not caused by particular attitudes towards motherhood.
How we treat Depression
Depression can feel all-encompassing and you may not see much hope for the future. However, with medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes, you will likely begin to feel better within weeks.
SSRI-based antidepressants§ are very effective at treating the symptoms of all types of depression. By increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain, they increase your ability to feel pleasure and motivation. They may also decrease your symptoms of anxiety.
Wellbutrin, which increases levels of norepinephrine and dopamine, is popular as an alternative to SSRIs or an addition in cases where SSRIs do not reduce all the symptoms of depression.
Your doctor may prescribe tranquilizers such as Xanax or Valium to be taken when you feel in need of an urgent reduction of symptoms. However, due to their addictive nature, they are unlikely to be prescribed in the long-term.
Therapy is a crucial part of depression treatment, even when the cause is primarily physical. People who have been suffering from depression struggle to deal with the thoughts and feelings that arise during the episode, even when the main symptoms have been reduced. Therapy can help you confront those thoughts and feelings.
Psychodynamic therapy, which focuses on exploring the psyche, is known to be effective in treating depression. Mindfulness-based therapies such as dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) can help train patients to self-regulate their emotions before they become too distressing to control.
Lifestyle modifications are known to have a positive effect on people suffering from depression. Consistent exercise releases endorphins and leads to a general sense of wellness. A good diet is also essential to feeling at one’s physical best.
Depression is an incredibly distressing disorder, but the good news is that it can be treated effectively and millions of people have recovered to lead happy, healthy lives. At Gooden Wellness Center, we treat many patients with different types of depression. We see successful outcomes every day, and will guide you towards the best possible results. You will likely begin to feel better in the first weeks of your treatment, and with continued therapy you will learn to live a more meaningful and fulfilling life in the long term.
Depression is common and distressing but can be treated successfully. Contact Gooden Wellness Center to start your journey towards happiness and good mental health.
- National Institute of Mental Health: (Website)
- Clevenger, S. S., Malhotra, D., Dang, J., Vanle, B., & IsHak, W. W. (2018). The role of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors in preventing relapse of major depressive disorder. Therapeutic advances in psychopharmacology, 8(1), 49–58. doi:10.1177/2045125317737264
- Patel, K., Allen, S., Haque, M., Angelescu, I., Baumeister, D. and Tracy, D. (2016). Bupropion: a systematic review and meta-analysis of effectiveness as an antidepressant. Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology, 6(2), pp.99-144.
- Panos, P. T., Jackson, J. W., Hasan, O., & Panos, A. (2014). Meta-Analysis and Systematic Review Assessing the Efficacy of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). Research on Social Work Practice, 24(2), 213–223. (Website)
- Mead, G. E., Morley, W., Campbell, P., Greig, C. A., McMurdo, M., & Lawlor, D. A. (2010). Exercise for depression. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2010(1), -. [CD004366]. 10.1002/14651858.CD004366.pub4