Depression is the leading cause of disability in the world and over 300 million people in the United States have or had depression at least once in their life. While anyone of any age, gender, or race can suffer from this debilitating mental disorder, it is most often seen in women in their mid-twenties.
Symptoms of Depression
This condition is not just a feeling of sadness or the blues, it is a combination of different symptoms that affect your daily routine and last for more than 14 days. Some of these symptoms include:
- Feeling numb or hopeless
- Lack of interest in activities that you used to enjoy
- Isolating yourself
- Sleeping more than usual or inability to sleep
- Eating more or lack of appetite
- Chronic fatigue
- Random aches and pains
- Intestinal issues such as diarrhea, nausea, or constipation
- Weight gain or loss
- Lack of concentration
- Inability to make decisions
- Memory Lapses
- Lack of sex drive
- Preoccupied with death or suicide
There are other signs of depression and they may vary depending on which type of depressive disorder you have. There are several types of depressive disorder, which include:
This type of depression only affects women of childbearing age who have recently given birth or been pregnant. The main symptoms of postpartum depression are extreme sadness, lethargy, loneliness, feeling like you are not able to care for your child, anxiety, and inability to perform basic daily activities. This condition may be serious in that it can sometimes be so severe that the individual may consider harming herself and her child.
Bipolar Disorder (Manic Depression)
This condition is a serious illness that must be controlled by medication and therapy. The individual suffering from bipolar disorder has symptoms of depression interspersed with periods of mania. During the manic phase, they may feel more energized than usual, talk fast and act jittery, become reckless (drinking alcohol, have unsafe sex, or any other dangerous behaviors), and may stay awake for days at a time before crashing into another depression.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Some experts believe that SAD is characterized by depressive symptoms in people during winter months due to lack of sunlight. However, others say that SAD is more of a holiday depression because it also affects those in the warmer climates with year-round sunlight and warmth such as Florida. This can manifest as loneliness, sadness, fatigue, irritability, and sleeping more than usual.
Psychotic depression is a rare but severe case of depression that also causes psychotic episodes when the individual has delusions and hallucinations. They may become aggressive and act out in a rage or feel so much terror that they refuse to see or speak to anyone. Anxiety and insomnia are two of the main symptoms besides the hallucinations and delusions.
Who is At Risk of Depressive Disorders?
Anyone can develop any of these types of depression no matter whether they are a male or female, of any age, whether you are rich or poor, black or white, it is a non-discriminating disease that can affect anyone. However, there are certain people who are at a higher risk according to statistics. Some of these are:
- Being a female (women are three times more likely to have depression)
- Between the age of 18 and 29
- A family history of depression or another mental illness
- Changes in lifestyle such as a traumatic loss of job, loved one, or major illness
- Having cancer, heart disease, or another chronic physical condition
- Being isolated
- Having a negative look on life
What You Can Do
There are many things that you can do to help combat depression. Many of these are those you can do yourself in your own home. For example, exercise is a wonderful way to increase your endorphins, which are hormones that create a happy and euphoric feeling immediately. Other ways to fight depression include:
- Eating healthy
- Sleeping at least six to eight hours per night
- Avoiding caffeine and alcoholic beverages
- Thinking positive
- Talk to someone
- Join a support group
- Write in a journal
Talk to a Professional
Of course, therapy and medication require a mental health care professional. If you need help or have a loved one you suspect may need some help, you can contact a mental health care professional such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or a therapist. In many situations, finding someone you trust and can relate to within your immediate area can be a problem. Just the job of looking for the right therapist can be a major hurdle for those who need it, especially those with depression. Some days, it is hard to get out of bed, let alone finding a doctor and going to the appointment.
In many cases, online therapy is much easier and may be the only choice for those who live in rural areas or transportation difficulties. For those with depression who have a hard time making decisions or planning anything, online therapy can be a lifesaver. You can choose your own therapist out of thousands of licensed professionals and you do not even have to leave your home. In fact, you do not even have to leave your bed or make an appointment. You can do it right now. What are you waiting for?