Our mental health is extremely important. If things in our life are off balance or we become psychologically triggered, we may become vulnerable to developing mental health disorders, including depression. Depression is a term we often hear; however, it is important to understand the depth of depression as there are multiple different types of this mental health disorder.
Depression can affect anyone at any age. However, depression may be heightened in teenagers and young adults compared to other age groups as there may be many external pressures in everyday life.
Some people think that major depression is a chronic feeling of sadness; however, depression is deeper than that. Feelings of severe depression can last for months at a time, can be very difficult to break free from, and can severely impact everyday life. People who are depressed may lack motivation and become socially withdrawn. Many people who suffer from depression may be unaware they have this illness as they can generally just feel down and remain oblivious to the extent of their condition. Often depression is dismissed by many who believe it is trivial and something you can just overcome by engaging in cheerful activities; however, this is not the case. Depression is a serious mental health condition that often requires medical treatment.
Types of Depression
Major depressive disorder (MDD) – This is also known as clinical depression. Feelings of MDD can be extremely intense and overwhelming. A major depressive episode can cause symptoms that will typically last a long time and could be persistent for several months. MDD will also affect everyday life, causing a lack of motivation or enthusiasm for daily tasks. People may also feel isolated and will typically need medical treatment to overcome this.
Perinatal and postpartum depression – This refers to depression while someone is pregnant or after they have given birth and is sometimes referred to as the baby blues. This typically is more likely to occur in women who have pre-existing mental health conditions. Effects of this will usually be short-lived, and most women will make a full recovery given the correct treatment.
Bipolar disorder – The term bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic depression, refers to alternating feelings of extreme highs (manic episodes) or extreme lows (depressive episodes). Unlike regular mood swings, episodes of bipolar can last for long periods. With the correct treatment, this can be managed so that episodes occur less regularly and with less severity.
Persistent depressive disorder – Also known as dysthymia, this type of depression is called persistent depressive disorder as it is persistent, continuous, and chronic. Experiencing this form of chronic depression may cause people to lose motivation and interest in daily life. They may also experience low self-esteem and feel generally empty. These symptoms may last for years and may significantly interfere with an individual’s life.
Psychotic depression – This type of depressionoccurs when someone experiences symptoms of psychosis alongside depression. If a person has this combination, they may feel detached from reality and experience hallucinations and delusional thinking, along with the typical feelings of sadness and hopelessness that comes from depression.
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder – PMDD is a type of depression that occurs in the run-up to menstruation. This can cause extreme irritability, sadness, or anxiety. Symptoms are typically short-lived and will go away once the hormonal period has settled.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) – This type of depression occurs in relation to seasonal patterns. Symptoms of SAD are usually heightened in winter and are less strong in summer. However, this may be the opposite for some people.
Typical Symptoms of Depression
Depression is a mental illness that will affect everyone slightly differently depending on their susceptibility to symptoms, the type of depression, and the severity of the illness. However, there will be some distinguishing symptoms that will be applicable to most types of depression. These symptoms include:
- Feeling down, upset or sad
- Feeling generally agitated or irritable
- Feeling guilty, worthless, or experiencing self-hatred
- A sense of emptiness or numbness
- Feeling isolated and inability to relate to others
- Finding no pleasure in daily life or things that were usually enjoyable
- Have a sense of detachment from reality
- Little or no self-confidence or self-esteem
- Feeling hopeless
- Suicidal ideation
These symptoms can also impact behaviour, and people may begin to notice changes in the way they act. For example, they might:
- Avoid social gatherings and activities they used to enjoy
- Start to self-harm or display suicidal behaviour
- Have difficulty communicating or speaking confidently
- Lose interest in sex
- Struggle to remember certain things
- Develop a dependency on drugs or alcohol
- Have unusual sleeping patterns
- Feel constantly tired
- Begin to eat too much or too less
- Have physical pain with no obvious cause
Causes of Depression
Similar to other mental disorders, there are many ideas about the causes of depression, and realistically, depression isn’t caused by one thing but rather a combination of factors. One theory is that it can be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain which can alter someone’s mood and cause episodes of depression. However, there are other factors that can contribute to depressive symptoms. These can include:
- Childhood experiences – such as trauma, neglect, or unstable family life.
- Life events – these can include things that affect daily life such as trauma, the end of a relationship, losing a job, and the death of a loved one.
- Other mental health problems – other mental health conditions such as another mood disorder, anxiety or PTSD can lead to feelings of depression.
- Physical health problems – people who suffer physical health concerns are more likely to develop symptoms of depression as certain conditions can cause anxiety and lack of mobility which can lead to depressive symptoms.
- Genetics – Some people may find that depression is passed down through family genes, making them susceptible to developing depression.
- Drugs and alcohol – many substances, such as drugs and alcohol will have an effect on the brain. Excessive consumption of these substances can often trigger symptoms of depression.
Treatment for Depression
If you have been struggling with the symptoms of depression, you should speak to a mental health professional who will advise you on the best form of treatment for your circumstances. Treatment for depression can vary depending on the type of depression and the depression symptoms. Often depression can be helped after a course of treatment. Resistant depression may occur, and this will require a little more time and dedication to recover from.
Typical treatment for depression may include a prescribed course of medication such as antidepressants, or you may be referred to psychosocial or talking therapies. Some of these therapies include:
- Cognitive behavioural therapy
- Interpersonal therapy
- Psychodynamic psychotherapy
At The Wave Clinic, we provide specially designed treatment plans to help you overcome your feelings of depression. We provide care and support for all young people who seek help from us. We understand that no two people are the same, so all our depression treatment programs will be fully personalised to your needs.
Contact us today to find out how we can help you.