Depression is one of the most common, and likely the most understood, mental illness. The National Alliance on Mental Illness describes depression as ” more than just feeling sad or going through a rough patch. It’s a serious mental health condition that requires understanding and medical care.”
“This serious mood disorder causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working. To be diagnosed with depression, the symptoms must be present for at least two weeks,” states the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).
An estimated 16 million American adults—almost 7% of the population—had at least one major
depressive episode in the past year. Some people have only one episode in a lifetime. However, for most people depression is recurring.
Left untreated, depression can be devastating for those who have, as well as their families and loved ones. Without treatment, episodes may from several months to years. Fortunately, with early detection,
diagnosis and a treatment plan, managing depression is possible.
Research indicates that depression is caused by a combination of biological, environmental, genetic, and psychological factors.
“If you have been experiencing some of the following signs and symptoms most of the day, nearly every day, for at least two weeks, you may be suffering from depression,” states NIMH.
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
- Feelings of hopelessness, or pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
- Decreased energy or fatigue
- Moving or talking more slowly
- Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
- Appetite and/or weight changes
- Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
- Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease even with treatment
“Not everyone who is depressed experiences every symptom. Some people experience only a few symptoms while others may experience many,” explains the NIMH. “Several persistent symptoms in addition to low mood are required for a diagnosis of major depression, but people with only a few – but distressing – symptoms may benefit from treatment of their “subsyndromal” depression. The severity and frequency of symptoms and how long they last will vary depending on the individual and his or her particular illness. Symptoms may also vary depending on the stage of the illness.”
Types of Depression
Mental Health America explains that “Depressive Disorders are a category of mood disorders that involve extended periods of feeling extremely low and disrupt a person’s ability to enjoy life. Some of the most common Depressive Disorders include:”
Major Depressive Disorder (Clinical Depression); a mental health condition characterized by an inescapable and ongoing low mood often accompanied by low self-esteem and loss of interest or pleasure in activities that a person used to find enjoyable. To meet the criteria for Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), symptoms must be present nearly every day for at least 2 weeks. MDD is also often referred to as Major Depression.
Persistent Depressive Disorder; refers to a longer-lasting form of depression. While Major Depressive Disorder is diagnosed if an individual experiences symptoms for at least 2 weeks, Persistent Depressive Disorder is used when symptoms of depression are present on most days for at least two years, but do not reach the severity of a major depressive episode. (Prior to the release of the DSM-5 this was more commonly known as Dysthymia.)
Post-Partum Depression; depression that starts after childbirth and lasts at least two weeks, up to a year.
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder; a severe form of Pre-Menstrual Syndrome that is diagnosed when a woman experiences severe symptoms of depression, tension, and irritability in the week prior to menstruation. While it isn’t uncommon for most women to experience emotional and physical changes prior to menstruation, women who meet the criteria for PMDD experience changes that impact their lives in more profound ways.
Seasonal Affective Disorder; a mood disorder involving symptoms of depression associated with varying levels of sunlight during fall and winter months which subsides during spring and summer.
Depression is also a feature of Bipolar Disorder.
Above descriptions credited to Mental Health America
Treatment for depression usually consists of medication, therapy, or a combination of the two. No two people are affected by depression in the same way. Because of this, there is no “one-size-fits-all” treatment. If you believe you are experiencing depression, speak to your medical provider about what options will work best for you.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, know that someone is always available. No one fights alone.
Pierce County Crisis Line – Ph: 1 (800) 576-7764
King County Crisis Line – Ph: (206) 461-3222 or 1 (800) 244-5767
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-8255.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (ESP) –1-888-628-9454
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Deaf & Hard of Hearing Options) – 1-800-799-4889
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Chat – https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/
Crisis Text Line – Text HOME to 741741 in the US
National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673
King County Sexual Assault Resource Line: 1-888-998-6423
Pierce County Sexual Assault Center: 1-800-756-7273
National Domestic Abuse Hotline:1-800-799-7233
National Domestic Abuse Hotline (TTY): 1-800-787-3224
Domestic Abuse Women’s Network (King County) – 425-656-7867
The Veterans Crisis Line – 1-800-273-8255, Press 1.
Safe Call Now – 1-206-459-3020
Safe Call Now is a 24/7 helpline staffed by first responders for first responders and their family members. They can assist with treatment options for responders who are suffering from mental health, substance abuse, and other personal issues.
Fire/EMS Helpline: 1-888-731-FIRE (3473)
The TrevorLifeline – 1-866-488-7386.
TrevorChat can be found at https://www.thetrevorproject.org/get-help-now/ (available 7 days a week from 3PM to 10PM ET).
TrevorText can be reached by texting TREVOR to 1-202-304-1200 (available M-F from 3PM to 10PM ET).
The Trevor Project is a nationwide organization that provides a 24-hour phone hotline, as well as limited-hour webchat and text options, for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth.
The Trans Lifeline – 1-877-565-8860.
The Trans Lifeline is a nonprofit organization that is created by and for the transgender community, providing crisis intervention hotlines, staffed by transgender individuals, available in the United States and Canada.
Washington Recovery Help Line – 1-866-789-1511
WA Recovery Chat: http://www.warecoveryhelpline.org/chat/
The Washington Recovery Help Line is a program of Crisis Connections. We offer an anonymous, confidential 24-hour helpline for Washington State residents. Our services include crisis intervention and referral assistance related to substance use disorder, problem gambling, and mental health challenges. Professionally-trained volunteers and staff provide emotional support and connect callers with local treatment resources or additional community services.
Reddit Suicide support: https://www.reddit.com/r/SuicideWatch/
Suicide.org list of local helplines for all 50 states: http://www.suicide.org/suicide-hotlines.html
Suicide survivor support groups: http://tinyurl.com/m47k5en