A depressive disorder is an illness that involves the body, mood, and thoughts.
It affects the way a person eats and sleeps, the way one feels about oneself, and the way one thinks …
A depressive disorder is not the same as a passing blue mood. It is not a sign of personal weakness or a condition that can be willed or wished away. People with a depressive illness cannot merely “pull themselves together” and get better.
Without treatment, symptoms can last for weeks, months, or years. Appropriate treatment, however, can help most people who suffer from depression.
Depression can strike anyone, but people with serious illnesses such as stroke may be at greater risk. Depressive disorders make one feel exhausted, worthless, helpless, and hopeless. Such negative thoughts and feelings make some people feel like giving up.
It is important to realize that these negative views are part of the depression and typically do not accurately reflect the actual circumstances. Negative thinking fades as treatment begins to take effect. Learn how to help yourself if you feel / or have been diagnosed as depressed.
Types of Depression
There are different types of depressions, just as is the case with other illnesses such as heart disease. Here we describe three of the most common types of depressive disorders. However, within these different types of depression, there are variations in the number of symptoms, their severity, and persistence.
Major depression is manifested by a combination of symptoms (see symptom list below) that interfere with the ability to work, study, sleep, eat, and enjoy once-pleasurable activities. Such a disabling episode of depression may occur only once but more commonly occurs several times in a lifetime.
A less severe type of depression, dysthymia, involves long-term, chronic symptoms that do not disable but keep one from functioning well or from feeling good. Many people with dysthymia also experience major depressive episodes at some time in their lives.
Another type of depression is bipolar disorder, also called manic-depressive illness. Not nearly as prevalent as other forms of depressive disorders, bipolar disorder is characterized by cycling mood changes: severe highs (mania) and lows (depression). Sometimes the mood switches are dramatic and rapid, but most often they are gradual. When in the depressed cycle, an individual can have any or all of the symptoms of a depressive disorder.
When in the manic cycle, the individual may be overactive, overtalkative, and have a great deal of energy. Mania often affects thinking, judgment, and social behavior in ways that cause serious problems and embarrassment. For example, the individual in a manic phase may feel elated, full of grand schemes that might range from unwise business decisions to romantic sprees. Mania, left untreated, may worsen to a psychotic state.
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Not everyone who is depressed or manic experiences every symptom. Some people experience a few symptoms, some many. The severity of symptoms varies with individuals and also varies over time. Additionally, a person can experience different types of depression.
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
- Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed, including sex
- Decreased energy, fatigue, being “slowed down”
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
- Insomnia, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
- Appetite and/or weight loss or overeating and weight gain
- Thoughts of death or suicide; suicide attempts
- Restlessness, irritability
- Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain
- Abnormal or excessive elation
- Unusual irritability
- Decreased need for sleep
- Grandiose notions
- Increased talking
- Racing thoughts
- Increased sexual desire
- Markedly increased energy
- Poor judgment
- Inappropriate social behavior
The first step to getting appropriate treatment for depression is a physical examination by a physician. Certain medications, as well as some medical conditions such as a viral infection, can cause the same symptoms as depression, and the physician should rule out these possibilities through examination, interview, and lab tests. If a physical cause for the depression is ruled out, a psychological evaluation should be done, by the physician or by referral to a psychiatrist or psychologist.
A good diagnostic evaluation will include a complete history of symptoms, i.e., when they started, how long they have lasted, how severe they are, whether the patient had them before and, if so, whether the symptoms were treated and what treatment was given. The doctor should ask about alcohol and drug use, and if the patient has thoughts about death or suicide. Further, a history should include questions about whether other family members have had a depressive illness and, if treated, what treatments they may have received and which were effective.
Last, a diagnostic evaluation should include a mental status examination to determine if speech or thought patterns or memory have been affected, as sometimes happens in the case of a depressive or manic-depressive illness.
What Causes Depression?
Some types of depression run in families, suggesting that a biological vulnerability can be inherited. This seems to be the case with bipolar disorder. Studies of families in which members of each generation develop bipolar disorder found that those with the illness have a somewhat different genetic makeup than those who do not get ill.
However, the reverse is not true: Not everybody with the genetic makeup that causes vulnerability to bipolar disorder will have the illness. Apparently, additional factors, possibly stresses at home, work, or school, are involved in its onset.
In some families, major depression also seems to occur generation after generation. However, it can also occur in people who have no family history of depression. Whether inherited or not, major depressive disorder is often associated with changes in brain structures or brain function.
Furthermore, members of the same family may each experience different types of depression.
People who have low self-esteem, who consistently view themselves and the world with pessimism or who are readily overwhelmed by stress, are prone to depression. Whether this represents a psychological predisposition or an early form of the illness is not clear.
In recent years, researchers have shown that physical changes in the body can be accompanied by mental changes as well. Medical illnesses such as stroke, a heart attack, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and hormonal disorders can cause depressive illness, making the sick person apathetic and unwilling to care for his or her physical needs, thus prolonging the recovery period.
Also, a serious loss, difficult relationship, financial problem, or any stressful (unwelcome or even desired) change in life patterns can trigger a depressive episode. Very often, a combination of genetic, psychological, and environmental factors is involved in the onset of a depressive disorder. Future episodes of illness typically are precipitated by only mild stresses or none at all.
In conclusion; there are different types of depression. The triggers for depression may be environmental, genetic or the result of another illness such as stroke. Seeking expert medical treatment early can prevent depression getting out of hand.
Additionally, because there are different types of depression, what works for one person may not work for another. If you are depressed, or care for someone else who is, see the treatment options listed below…
How To Help Yourself if You Are Depressed
Depressive disorders make one feel exhausted, worthless, helpless, and hopeless. It is important to realize that these negative views are part of the depression. They may not accurately reflect the actual circumstances …
Treating Depression in Children and Adolescents
It is estimated that less than one-third of children and adolescents with depression receive treatment …
There are several types of antidepressant medications used to treat depressive disorders. Sometimes doctors will try a variety of antidepressants before finding the most effective combination of medications …
Side Effects of Depression Medications
Before starting a new medication, ask your health professional to tell you about any side effects you may experience. Antidepressants may cause mild and, usually, temporary side effects (sometimes referred to as adverse effects) in some people …
In the past few years, herbs have increasingly been used in the treatment of both depression and anxiety …
There are many things you can do to prevent heart disease and/or just stay healthy:
… the combination of Vedic Meditation, for twenty minutes twice a day, with a good diet – especially a low fat, low salt diet – and physical exercise, should see a dramatic change in your health.
Vedic Meditation is one of the most powerful techniques available for reducing stress and anxiety. It is also one of the easiest to learn and simplest to practice.
If you are in Auckland (NZ) call me, Warwick Jones, on 021 532 768. Or email to find our how Vedic Meditation could help you achieve better health.
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