Depression is a severe medical ailment. It’s a disorder of the brain. It’s more than just feeling a bit under the weather for a few days. It’s a feeling of emptiness or sadness that overwhelms a person and does not go away.
Depression does not discriminate among age, race, gender, status, income, etc. It can “attack” anyone for any reason. I choose the word “attack” deliberately because many don’t even realize they are going into or have reached a major depression. It’s a loneliness even if you are surrounded by people constantly. It’s a sadness even if you are in one of the happiest times in your life. It will bring a person down so much that they have feelings of destruction and death including suicide.
In the United States there are approximately nineteen million teens and adults that suffer depression. This is just the ones we have recognized. There are children and the elderly that also suffer some form of depression.
There are many types of depression and they all have several symptoms. The most common symptoms of any type are feelings of sadness, emptiness, hopelessness, guilt, irritability, or even being anxious. Loss of interest in favorite activities. Changes in eating or sleeping. Changes in energy levels and moods. These symptoms will eventually cause aches and pains such as headaches, digestive issues, or even just unexplained physical complaints such as cramps and headaches. Unfortunately, depression can lead to self-destructing thoughts and suicide.
There are numerous causes that lead to depression. Depression may be genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological. While it can occur in children it is more common to begin in teens and young adults. It is also more common in women due to the biological and psychological changes that occur during childbirth. However, men are also affected and may even be more difficult to detect.
Depression comes in so many forms and can come and go or lasts for years. Manic-depressive disorder commonly known as bipolar disorder occurs equally in men and women and over eighty percent of the cases are severe.
“Baby blues” occurs in about eighty percent of new mothers and will go away after a couple of weeks. If it doesn’t then it can escalate into a major depressive disorder with peripartum onset known as postpartum depression. This can become a very dangerous time for mother and baby if not recognized in time.
Seasonal depression also a major depressive disorder occurs during a seasonal pattern. This pattern is usually from Autumn and throughout the winter. It rarely occurs during the warmer months such as spring and summer.
There is not a single cause for depression. It isn’t a simple illness to recognize nor is there a simple cure for any of it. Brain chemistry, hormones, and genetics all play a part in depression. Other risk factors are low self-esteem, any form of abuse such as physical or sexual. Use of drugs or alcohol including prescription drugs. Chronic diseases like diabetes, multiple sclerosis or cancer. Disorders such as anxiety, borderline personality, or post-traumatic stress. A family history of depression can certainly increase one’s risk.
There are several treatments for depression and many times it takes more than one type of treatment to get results. Treatments are not considered cures since many people have reoccurring bouts with depression.
Prolonged or chronic depression that is not treated has devastating effects on your emotional and physical well-being. Mental Health America reported that thirty to seventy percent of those suffering a depressive disorder have died.
It is imperative that if you are someone you know has any of these symptoms they get some sort of help. There are so many different treatments available that there is always hope if treated in time.
Medication and psychological counseling are the most common treatment methods. There is also repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, light therapy, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and more.
One thing I know for sure is that those who have fought with depression and have been the most successful have had a strong faith or belief in something other than man. I would never suggest to anyone it’s as easy as having a faith in God or just pray but it most certainly can’t hurt in addition to any other therapy you choose.
It is important to spread the word and understand that our mental health in America is in need and there just aren't enough resources to handle the volume. It takes all of us to be aware of the symptoms so that we may be able to notice when someone near us needs help. Then it’s important that we know how to help them.
For more information on depression you can check out the following links below:
Also, if you or anyone you know is contemplating suicide please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text CONNECT to 741741 and there is always 911 for immediate action.