There has been a little more attention to the importance of mental health lately in the news.  It’s great to get people aware of mental health and learn more about mental health and the diseases associated with them.  There is much more to understand beyond the stigmas. Let’s get a better understand more about depression.


About Depression

Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders throughout the United States, with about 1 in 14 or 15 people suffering from depression in a given year.  If you feel like you are suffering from depression, you are definitely not alone.

But that doesn’t make it any easier to cope with.  Depression can feel like you are living in a dark gloomy cloud.  You may or may not recognize it as depression when you are trying to deal with it.  Some people know very well and accept depression as part of their lives, but others will deny having depression to themselves or those close to them, while some may not even realize they are depressed because they feel that is just how life is for them.

Major depression is when a person has prolonged (typically over 2 weeks) feelings of sadness, guilt, worthlessness, death, or loss of interest all together.  It negatively affects how you feel, think, and act.  It can disrupt your day-to-day lives.  Some other signs or symptoms of depression include trouble sleeping or sleeping too much, serious loss or gain of appetite or big change in eating patterns, physical pains such as stomach aches or headaches, not being able to focus or concentrate, or just feeling sad even through times or during activities that would normally be something that person would enjoy.


Understanding Depression & How It Affects a Person

Depression is different than sadness because of the intensity and prolonged feelings that cannot go away.  But not to be misleading, let’s go into further detail.  Someone can be sad about something, such as losing an opportunity at work, having an argument with the spouse, or the loss of someone close to him or her, and have a deep feeling of sadness about this.  But with sadness, feelings can also be put into perspective and sadness can fade or change into other emotions as life moves on or as your waves of emotions fluctuate.  A person will feel sad about something, but can also feel happy or positive about something else later in time.

With depression though, these feelings of sadness last for longer periods of time (again, often over 2 weeks) and are accompanied by other feelings of hopelessness, worry, guilt, or loss of interest.  When untreated, depression can be very harmful and dangerous, especially when thoughts of suicide are present.

When someone is depressed, it can be very difficult to break out of that state.  It’s not as simple as getting them to “think happy thoughts” or “snap out of it”.  It has to do with something more deep-rooted that might be discovered through therapy, psychological techniques or processes, or in some cases medications or a combination of treatments. People close to this person should be understanding, patient, and willing to listen.  It’s important to encourage someone who is depressed to seek professional help such as reaching out to a local counselor or mental health therapist.


Causes of Depression

Depression can be caused by a number of reasons such as genetics and biology, facing life changes or transitions, encountering a traumatic event, brain structure and activity, drug and alcohol abuse, hormones, psychosocial factors, other medical or mental health conditions, or some other unknown reasons.  Anyone can fall victim to depression, although it is more common in women.  Post pardom depression is a common type of depression in women, but there are many different types and intensities to depression.  Child and teens often deal with depression, uncertain of what it is or how to cope.

No matter what the cause, it’s important to seek professional help.  No one should be ashamed to be struggling with depression and needing to seek treatment, such as getting counseling.  It’s the best thing to do for successfully managing depression to reduce the issues it causes and help that person feel better for it.