This is a collaborative post.
Everyone gets sad once in a while. Nobody can be happy all the time. That would be nice but of course it is not possible. Things happen that can get you down such as getting into a fight with your best friend or not getting that big promotion at work. However, when you are sad for no obvious reason for more than two weeks at a time, you are probably suffering from clinical depression.
Different Kinds of Depression
Did you just have a baby or is it winter in your neck of the woods? If so, you may have post-partum depression or seasonal affective disorder (SAD). The various types of depression include:
- Post-partum Depression
This condition is a serious mental health condition that occurs in women who have recently given birth. Post-partum depression can cause feelings of hopelessness and failure, sadness, and even thoughts of hurting yourself or others.
- Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
During the winter, the sun is not as bright as during the rest of the time of the year. In some people, lack of sunlight can cause feelings of sadness and depression that can last the entire winter season.
- Persistent Depressive Disorder
Having severe depression for longer than two years is considered persistent depressive disorder. This is a serious condition that can cause lack of concentration, extreme fatigue, aches and pains, and even suicidal thoughts.
- Bipolar Disorder
This is a type of mental health disorder that causes extreme high moods (like euphoria) interspersed with extreme low moods (depression).
Signs of Depression
You may have been having symptoms of depression without even knowing it for some time. In fact, it is usually noticed by a friend or family member before you notice it yourself. Some of the signs of depression are:
- Feeling sad or down for longer than two weeks
- Feelings of being helpless or worthless
- Talking or moving slower than usual (this is usually noticed by someone else)
- Trouble concentrating and decision making
- Memory problems
- Changes in sleep pattern (insomnia or hypersomnia)
- Loss of energy
- Extreme fatigue
- Random aches and pains such as headaches or stomach problems
- Weight gain or loss
- Lack of interest in activities you have previously enjoyed
- Attempted suicide
Causes of Depression
The cause of depression depends on the type of depression. Sometimes, there is no obvious cause but there are certain risk factors to look for. Some of the causes and risk factors are:
- Family history of depression or other mental health disorders
- Imbalance of brain chemicals
- Previous mental health disorders such as anxiety
- Serious medical conditions like cancer or heart disease
- Environmental (extreme poverty, abuse, neglect)
- Alcohol or drug abuse
Treatments for Depression
The first thing you should do if you or someone you know has signs of depression is talk to a professional. You can talk to your family physician or a therapist if you have one. If not, there are websites that offer online therapy with licensed experienced therapists without even needing an appointment. Some of the most common treatments include antidepressant medications, psychotherapy, cognitive therapy, brain stimulation therapies, and combinations of these. Because everyone is different, you need to speak to a professional to determine which treatment is best for you.