Everyone feels a bit down at times. But those who suffer from depressive disorder or clinical depression feel sad, hopeless and empty more often than not. Chronic depression negatively impacts the mind and body, and can cause problems in relationships with family, friends and partners, as those who suffer from it withdraw and isolate.
Depression can cause people to feel like giving up, or believe their life is not worth living. It can also cause problems at work or school, and it can cause its sufferers to turn to drugs or alcohol in an attempt to get some relief from the painful feelings.
It’s crucial to note that people do not choose to be depressed; they do not have any more control over their depression than diabetics have control over their diabetes.
Symptoms of Depressive Disorder
Because of the severe negative impact that depression can have on all aspects of one’s life, it’s important to learn how to recognize the presence of this disorder so steps can be taken to treat it. Following are the most common behavioral signs of depression.
- A depressed mood, with a persistent feeling of sadness, hopelessness or emptiness
- A constant, pessimistic attitude
- Feelings of worthlessness, guilt or helplessness
- A loss of interest in activities that once were enjoyable
- Decreased energy & fatigue
- A marked, lasting decline in sexual desire or libido
- Difficulty concentrating; distractibility
- A change in appetite (eating much more, or much less, than usual)
- Sleeping more or less than is normal
- Crying for no apparent reason
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Persistent physical ailments that do not respond to treatment
When five or more of these symptoms are present (including either depressed mood and loss of interest), it’s extremely important to seek out treatment from a mental health counselor, psychiatrist or family doctor, as depressive disorders can worsen over time and last longer if left untreated.
Treatment for Depression
Often, talking about one’s feelings and problems with a mental health professional can bring new solutions to light. Talking or “venting” can also make problems seem less imposing and severe. Cognitive behavior therapy, which is a process that helps to change negative thinking patterns, is often particularly useful for depression. EMDR (eye movement desensitization and repositioning) has also been shown to be effective for depression that is rooted in a past traumatic experience.
Antidepressant medications might also be necessary to help a person recover from depression. Just as crutches or a cast can provide assistance while bones heal, medications can also serve as a “crutch” to get individuals through the most severe phase of depressive disorder so that they can heal.
Hope for Sufferers of Depression
Depression is a common mental health disorder with widely available treatment. Those with depression can usually find relief with antidepressant medications combined with regular counseling with a mental health professional.