Depression

What is it?

Depression may be described as feeling sad, blue, unhappy, miserable, or down in the dumps. Most of us feel this way at one time or another for short periods, but if that low mood lingers day after day, it could signal depression.

Symptoms of Depression:

Although depression may occur only one time during your life, usually people have multiple episodes of depression. During these episodes, symptoms occur most of the day, nearly every day and may include:

  • Feelings of sadness, emptiness or unhappiness
  • Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities, such as sex
  • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Tiredness and lack of energy, so that even small tasks take extra effort
  • Changes in appetite — often reduced appetite and weight loss, but increased cravings for food and weight gain in some people
  • Anxiety, agitation or restlessness — for example, excessive worrying, pacing, hand-wringing or an inability to sit still
  • Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or blaming yourself for things that are not your responsibility
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
  • Frequent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide
  • Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches

Types of depression

Major depression — Severe symptoms that interfere with your ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy life.  Clinical depression is marked by a depressed mood most of the day.  Symptoms that are present every day for at least two weeks.

Persistent depressive disorder — Depressed mood that lasts for at least 2 years. A person diagnosed with persistent depressive disorder may have episodes of major depression along with periods of less severe symptoms, but symptoms must last for 2 years.

Anxious distress — Unusual restlessness or worry about possible events or loss of control

Mixed features — Simultaneous depression and mania, which includes elevated self-esteem, talking too much, and racing thoughts and ideas

Melancholic features — Severe depression with a profound lack of response to something that used to bring pleasure, associated with early morning awakening, worsened mood in the morning, significant changes in appetite, and feelings of guilt, agitation or sluggishness.

Atypical features — Ability to be cheered by happy events, increased appetite, little need for sleep, sensitivity to rejection, and a heavy feeling in arms or legs.

Psychotic features — Occurs when a person has severe depression plus some form of psychosis, such as having disturbing false beliefs or a break with reality (delusions), or hearing or seeing upsetting things that others cannot hear or see (hallucinations).

Catatonia — Includes motor activity that involves either uncontrollable and purposeless movement or fixed and inflexible posture.

Postpartum depression — Which is much more serious than the “baby blues” that many women experience after giving birth, when hormonal and physical changes and the new responsibility of caring for a newborn can be overwhelming. It is estimated that 10 to 15 percent of women experience postpartum depression after giving birth.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) — Is characterized by the onset of depression during the winter months, when there is less natural sunlight. The depression generally lifts during spring and summer. Antidepressant medication and psychotherapy can reduce SAD symptoms, either alone or in combination with light therapy.

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