Whether you have been feeling down or upset recently, or if you are concerned for a loved one or a friend of yours, it is important to understand how depression starts and what you can do to help or to overcome the battle yourself.
What is Depression?
Depression is a fairly common condition that occurs with most people at some point or another in their lives. Depression ranges from feeling “blue” and down or sad in general while feeling hopeless or unhappy on and off for short periods in life. However, there is also “clinical depression”, which consists of feeling sad, overwhelmed, and at times, suicidal for longer than just a few days or weeks. Most often, those who are diagnosed with clinical depression are unable to work or go on with everyday activities, as it is disruptive and can alter sleeping habits and work ethics while also interrupting schedules and motivation to participate in activities and even in social situations.
What Causes Depression and How Does Depression Start?
Depression can be caused and brought on by a number of factors, which vary with each person and their own life situations that they may be dealing with or overcoming. Additionally, depression is also known to run in families and may be considered genetic in some cases. Common causes and triggers that factor into depression include and are not limited to:
- Drug abuse or an alcohol addiction
- Sleeping trouble (or diagnosed insomnia)
- Medications (such as steroids or other medications that may cause hormonal imbalances or even mood swings at times)
- Long-term pain, cancer, or even conditions such as hypothyroidism (diagnosed for those who are medically classified with an under-active thyroid)
Stress is a major factor in triggering both traditional depression bouts in addition to clinical depression and has no limit on age, gender, and life situations. Stress can be caused by losing a job, dealing with a death or a loss in life, or even handling a breakup from a boyfriend, girlfriend, or even from your own spouse. Additional stress factors that can contribute to depression includes dealing with childhood trauma, neglect, and abuse you have dealt with in the past, failing a class or at a job, or even dealing with social isolation. Social isolation is common in those who are sick and also in the elderly, and can quickly become the cause of depression for those without a support group or system in place to help with recovery mentally and emotionally.
Common Symptoms of Depression
Although signs and symptoms of depression vary with each patient’s personal diagnosis, common symptoms include:
- Loss of focus and the ability to concentrate
- Mood swings (including often feeling irritable or agitated with those around you)
- Isolating oneself and become socially withdrawn
- Loss of interest in hobbies and activities that were once fun and joyful
- Thoughts of suicide or idealizing death frequently
- Sleeping too much or suffering from insomnia regularly
- Feeling “self-hate”, guilt, or shame consistently
- Losing or gaining weight due to stress, over-eating, or not eating enough
In many cases, depression presents itself as anger and rage rather than feelings of loss an sadness, so it is important to be observant if you believe your own friend or loved one is struggling with depression as well.
Getting Help and Treatment for Depression
Getting help for depression varies with each patient and depends on the severity of the situation that is occurring with the patient and his or her own life. In many cases, therapy sessions and counseling is recommended to help with coping with emotions and any difficult life situations you may have to handle or overcome on your own.
Additionally, in severe cases, medications may be prescribed to take regularly to help with balancing the body and brain’s natural chemistry and helping to bring you relief and a stable balance of emotions, feelings, and how to assess and handle situations you may have had trouble with in the past.
There are also at-home treatment options to help with coping with depression, including meditation and exercising along with eating a healthier diet and making positive changes to your current state of being. With a proper support group and an understanding of your condition, it is possible to overcome any obstacle that depression presents.