Almost everyone goes through tough spots in their lives with episodes of feeling unmotivated, sad, hopeless, or anxious. These episodes can be triggered by the death of a loved one, losing a job, going through a divorce, medical illness, or other stressful events. However, when these feelings last more than a couple of weeks or interfere with daily activities, the individual is most likely suffering from a major depressive episode.
According to the statistics from the Center for Disease and Control (CDC), approximately ten percent of American adults suffer from some form of depression that produces overwhelming feelings of sadness, despair, and/or shame. In fact, depression is considered a global epidemic with five percent of the world’s population suffering from it.
Symptoms of Depression
It’s important to understand that no two people are alike and each one will present different symptoms regarding their battle with depression. The severity of the symptoms will also vary. Some of the signs and symptoms include:
- Changes in appetite and weight – A significant fluctuation in weight gain or loss (5 percent or more) within a short period of time
- Lack of energy – Constantly feeling fatigued or exhausted; simple tasks are hard to do or take longer to finish
- Self-loathing – Intense feelings of guilt or worthlessness; severely critical of self-perceived faults or mistakes
- Sleeping too much or too little – Having difficulty sleeping (insomnia) or oversleeping (hypersomnia)
- Feelings of hopelessness – Feeling as if things will never get better and there is no light at the end of the tunnel
- Suicidal thoughts – Sometimes when in a deep depression, an individual may feel this is the only way to end the pain
- Difficulty focusing – Unable to concentrate, make decisions, remember things, or perform complicated tasks
- Persistently sad – An overwhelming feeling of sadness or emptiness; apathetic or indifferent
- Loss of interest in daily activities – Not interested in former hobbies, being with family and friends, or having sex with a partner
- Chronic pain or illness – May experience unexplained headaches, stomach pain, sore muscles, back pain, or even have difficulty breathing
Types of Depression
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America has identified three types of depressive disorders that affect the way an individual feels, thinks, behaves, and functions:
- Major depression – Involves several of the symptoms identified above and lasts for more than two weeks. These episodes are disabling and will interfere with daily activities. An individual may experience major depression only once or twice in a lifetime, or have reoccurring episodes.
- Persistent depressive disorder (formerly dysthymia) – This is a milder form of major depression that continues for at least two years. Individuals typically experience lack of energy, as well as difficulties with eating and sleeping.
- Bipolar disorder (formerly manic depression) – Distinguished as a mood cycle that goes from extreme highs (mania) to extreme lows (depression).
Fortunately, there is effective treatment for people who suffer from depression that includes a combination of medication, cognitive behavior therapy, and support groups that can help overcome depression and get life back on track. If you or someone you love is suffering from depression, please contact a mental health professional and discover what treatment options will work best.