How To Understand And Manage Major Depression
At some point in life, everyone experiences sadness because life is full of ups and downs that influence our thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Therefore, we can sometimes expect to feel sad. But when sadness is persistent and impacts your daily life, you may be suffering from depression. Although it is common, levels of severity vary and may require assistance from a professional. Here’s information on understanding Major Depression for you and your loved ones.
What is Major Depression?
Major or Clinical Depression can lead to various emotional and physical problems that affect how you think, feel, and behave. For example, untreated depression can make you feel like life isn’t worth living.
Many people don’t understand the impact of depression. Often, friends or family think a person suffering from depression can “snap out of it,” or they tell the person to “pull yourself together,” but it is not that easy.
Identifying Someone With Depression
When someone suffers from Major Depression, their level of functioning is affected. Usually, someone suffering from Major Depression faces significant distress or impairment in one or more areas of their life: school, work, relationships, and social activities. They often lose interest in things they once enjoyed. According to the DSM-5, Major Depression will cause five or more of the symptoms below for at least two weeks.
As outlined in the DSM-5, Major Depression can include:
- A depressed mood most of the day, almost every day.
- Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day.
- Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day.
- Insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day.
- Psychomotor agitation: A slowing down of thought and a reduction of physical movement (observable by others, not merely subjective feelings of restlessness or being slowed down.
- Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.
- Feeling of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilty feelings nearly every day.
- Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day.
- Recurrent thoughts of death, recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, a suicide attempt, or a specific plan for committing suicide.
What Health Conditions Mimic Depression?
Your physical directly impacts your mental health in many ways. Substance abuse, thyroid conditions, a brain tumor, and vitamin deficiency mimic the symptoms of depression. Schedule an appointment with your doctor to rule out underlying health issues that may contribute to a depressed mood.
A licensed therapist will complete a mental assessment and a full medical history to determine if you meet the criteria for Major Depression. The most common forms of treatment are:
Medication is often prescribed in combination with psychotherapy. Antidepressants may be prescribed to help balance the levels of neurotransmitters, chemicals responsible for communication between neurons in the brain. The doctor determines if medication is appropriate based on your symptoms, current medications, side effects, and cost. Your medical doctor, psychiatrist, or nurse practitioner will prescribe and manage your medication.
Psychotherapy focuses on the underlying causes of a person’s issues and how to solve them. Psychotherapy can be used with individuals, groups, couples, and family settings. You can receive psychotherapy from a psychologist, marriage and family therapist, licensed clinical social worker, licensed mental health counselor, licensed clinical professional counselor, psychiatric nurse practitioner, psychoanalyst, or psychiatrist.
Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) is used when medication and therapy are unsuccessful. An ECT is a procedure where electric currents pass through the brain, causing controlled brief sizers. This procedure causes changes in brain chemistry that can reverse symptoms of certain mental and health conditions. ECT treatments are usually administered by a psychiatrist, anesthesiologist, and nurse.
How to Overcome Depression
Seeking professional help is the best way to combat depression. Finding a health care provider with who you can comfortably speak openly can make a difference in treatment.
If you’re reluctant to seek treatment or don’t have a current therapist, check out Connect2heal. You can find a licensed therapist experienced with depression and other mental health concerns.
Joycelyn Wilson, LMHC