Depression: Symptoms and Treatment

Depression can feel like a dark cloud looming over your head, following you wherever you go. Fortunately, even the most severe depression is treatable. No one should have to live their lives in a dark shadow of depression. If you or someone you know if dealing with depression, it’s important to understand what it is and how to get help to treat it.

What is Depression?

A depression disorder is a common yet serious medical condition. Depression seriously impacts the way individuals feel, think, and behave. It can lead to several emotional and physical issues, seriously affecting an individual’s life. This includes influencing their ability to function in their daily lives with school or work.

Depression disorders range in severity from mild and temporary states of sadness to serious, persistent depression. Major Depressive Disorder, or clinical depression, causes persistent sadness and loss of interest in things that were once important to the individual. It’s more than just “having the blues” or feeling “down in the dumps”. People suffering from major depressive disorder cannot simply snap out of it because it is simply out of their control. A major depressive disorder is different from depression caused by the loss of a loved one of a medical condition. In order to diagnose clinical depression, medical professionals will use criteria of a variety of symptoms.

Symptoms of Depression

For many people who are suffering from addiction, symptoms are severe enough for them to notice a disruption in their day-to-day activities. They may feel miserable and upset but don’t understand why. During episodes of depression, symptoms occur most of the day almost every day. Symptoms of severe clinical depression include:

  • Feeling of emptiness, hopelessness, or sadness
  • Angry outbursts
  • Irritation or frustration
  • Changes in appetite, either increased or reduced
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Difficulty in making decisions
  • Suicidal thoughts and feelings
  • Insomnia
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Unexplained physical ailments such as headaches or back pain
  • Slowed thinking or thinking
  • Lack of energy
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities

Major depression is not a normal part of life. It’s important to be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of depression in order to treat it as quickly and as effectively as possible. Symptoms will differ for every individual, but should not be left untreated. If depression goes undiagnosed or treated, it will only continue and perhaps worsen.

Depression Risk Factors

Depression is a mental health disorder that could affect anyone- regardless of their age, gender, race, or socioeconomic status. Even an individual who has the most “ideal” lifestyle is at risk of developing depression. There are several factors that play into the development of depression, including:

  • Genetics. Certain mental health conditions can run in the family. If a blood relative suffers from severe depression, there is an increased chance that you will develop it as well.
  • Biochemistry. The way your brain is structured may contribute to the development of depression. Differences in certain chemicals and neurotransmitters play a role in mental illness.
  • Personality. People with certain personality types may be more susceptible to depression. Individuals who have low self-esteem, easily overwhelmed, and a generally pessimistic personality are more likely to experience depression.
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as sex, hobbies or sports
  • Environmental. Some environmental factors such as exposure to violence, abuse, poverty, or neglect make it more likely that a person will experience depression.
  • Medications. Some medications prescribed for other conditions have depression as a side effect. If this happens to you, it’s best to consult with your doctor about possibly switching medications.

Treatment for Depression

When a patient undergoes treatment for depression, it will begin with a complete assessment to evaluate their individual situation, including medical and family history, personality, and environmental factors. This way, the client’s individual symptoms are gone over to receive a diagnosis and develop a treatment plan.

For most individuals, severe depression will need to be treated with a combination of therapy and medication. Depression is highly treatable, with approximately 80-90 percent of people with depression will respond to treatment. With an effective treatment plan, individuals will gain relief from their symptoms.

Medication

Medication targets the brain chemistry factors that contribute to an individual’s depression. Antidepressants are prescribed to modify an individual’s brain chemistry to regulate neurotransmitters in the brain that control mood and emotions. Prescription antidepressants are not sedatives, “uppers”, or tranquilizers. They can, however, improve your mood, sleep habits, and increase appetite and concentration.

Antidepressants usually do not take full effect immediately. While some people may feel better after the first week or two, full benefits take up to two or three months. If a client feels no relief of their symptoms after several weeks on medication, it is best to consult their doctor to see if medication dosage should be increased or switched entirely. At Overland IOP, our double-board certified psychiatrists will determine which medications, if any, are needed to be a part of the treatment plan.

Psychotherapy

A variety of different psychotherapy methods are used to treat depressive disorders. These evidence-based talk therapies are used to treat depression by teaching clients coping mechanisms, problem-solving techniques, and how to change behavioral patterns. Severe depression will require dedication and hard work in order to overcome symptoms. Psychotherapy will help clients with:

  • Understanding their mental illness
  • Defining their recovery goals
  • Overcoming fear
  • Coping with stress
  • Comprehend past traumatic experiences
  • Improve personal relationships
  • End destructive habits
  • Cope with stress
  • Separate true personality from the depressive moods
  • Establish a routine
  • Develop a plan for future triggering situations

If you or someone you know is fighting depression, it’s vital to remember that recovery is possible. With the right treatment plan in place, individuals are able to find relief from the symptoms that plague them. Contact us today for more information on reclaiming your life from depression.