Depression: Warning Signs, Diagnosis, and Treatment

During a difficult period in life, it is normal to experience negative feelings like sadness, anger, and hopelessness. However, for some, those negative feelings happen frequently and may come out of the blue. Depression is more than a feeling—it is a mood disorder that can make it challenging to function in daily life because of the psychological and physical symptoms. Having depression doesn’t mean you are weak or sick—but it may mean you need help to feel better.


Types Of Depression

There are a few types of depression that can be caused by a range of factors. A professional can diagnose the type of depression you may have, which is key to treating it correctly. People often feel shame or guilt about their depression, but there is no need to feel this way–all types of depression can be treated effectively to relieve symptoms.

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Major Depressive Disorder

Major depressive disorder, or clinical depression, is when someone experiences symptoms of depression that affect their feelings, behavior, and thoughts for a period of two weeks or more. These symptoms can be triggered by a traumatic experience, or they can occur without any apparent reason. Depression can be caused by chemical changes in the brain that affect neurotransmitters responsible for regulating mood. Changes in lifestyle along with therapy and medication can effectively treat clinical depression.

Persistent depressive disorder (Dysthymia)

Persistent depressive disorder, or dysthymia, is a chronic depression in which a person experiences major depressive episodes regularly over the course of two years or more. There may be periods when the person experiences no symptoms, or less intense symptoms, between depressive episodes.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

If a person feels depressed as winter starts or if depression is triggered by a certain season, this could be seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD may be in part due to lack of sunlight exposure, among other factors, but it typically will go away as the weather changes from winter to spring. It may occur every year or could be triggered by moving to a different place with fewer daylight hours (farther north).

Postpartum Depression

After having a baby, some women experience a major depressive episode triggered by giving birth and the accompanying hormonal fluctuations. Feeling anxious, exhausted, angry, and sad in the weeks following the birth of a baby could be signs of postpartum depression. It can be difficult for women to care for themselves or their little one while suffering with postpartum depression, so it is important to ask for help and get treatment. There is often shame surrounding postpartum depression, but it is a common mood disorder and can be treated.

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