Depression involves feelings of extraordinary sadness, lack of energy and negative thoughts about self and the future. Basic biological functioning is also affected by depression, for example, sleeping patterns are likely to be disrupted, appetite may be lessened and a reduced libido may be affected. The risk of suicide is a significant factor when one is depressed. Most depressions, even milder ones, occur in the company of significant anxiety. Fortunately, psychotherapy can significantly reduce the symptoms of depression.
Most people question where their depression comes from. Many people experience depression after a loss, such as the loss of a relationship, loss of health, or loss of a job. And some even after a “success” in life, such as a graduation. Some people are more prone to depression than others. It has long been observed that women are twice as likely to become clinically depressed as men. However, many men can, and often do, suffer from this debilitating condition. A child needs a secure attachment to a parental figure in order to be resistant to depression in later life; therefore, some who were not given love and support as a child may be more prone to depression as well. In short, any incident in life that is highly stressful can result in a person feeling depressed.
There are two types of clinical depression that fall into the mild to moderate levels. The first is dysthymia. This depression lasts for more than two years and the person experiences the depression more days than not. It is important to note that someone with dysthymia does not experience depressive symptoms everyday. In addition, someone with dysthymia must also experience two of the following symptoms: poor appetite or overeating, sleep disturbance, low energy, difficulties concentrating or making decisions, low self-esteem, and feelings of hopelessness.
When someone experiences a stressor, such as a loss or relocation an “adjustment” may trigger a depression. This is the other clinical depression that falls into the mild to moderate level. A depression that is brought on by an “adjustment” differs from dysthymia in that it does not last longer than six months.
A more severe level of depression is when the person exhibits more symptoms than are required for dysthymia and the symptoms are more persistent. This means that periods of normal mood will not be experienced as is the case with dysthymia. The person may also experience four or more of the following symptoms: fatigue or loss of energy, too much or too little sleep, decreased appetite and significant weight loss or gain, a slowdown of mental and physical functioning, diminished ability to think or concentrate, feelings of worthlessness, and recurrent thoughts of death or suicide. It is extremely important that an individual who is suffering from these symptoms receives compassionate help from a mental health professional. It is an unfortunate irony that the higher the level of depression an individual experiences, the more difficult it is for that person to work through the inevitable feelings of paralysis and seek treatment.
Depression is a painful condition that affects millions of people All deserve to benefit from the effective treatment that is available.