For many years depression was seen as a psychological illness of the mind, but it is only in the past one hundred years or so that we have started to understand it.
We now know that depression can occur for a multitude of reasons, and different forms of depression require different treatments.
The most important thing you can do if you suffer from depression is to talk to someone about it, preferably a Doctor or other medical professional. This is the first step in combating the disorder, and simply talking about your problem can help.
What is Depression?
Depression is a mental disorder that can cause an individual to experience feelings of low self-esteem, mood swings, loss of interest and happiness, depressed or angry moods, low energy, disrupted concentration and a lack of appetite or sleep.
People often confuse feeling sad or low with experiencing depression, and although the two have similar results they tend to have different causes.
Feeling low or sad happens to all of us from time to time, and usually it is caused by a particular incident, whereas depression is generally a prolonged experience that can occur for no evident reason. Depression can affect anybody at anytime, and it can make life very difficult for the sufferer.
Causes of Depression
There is a large range of reasons why depression can occur in an individual, and these causes will vary from person to person. It’s important to remember that although you may not identify with any of the suggested causes you could still be suffering from some form of depression.
Common causes include experiences stemming from childhood, physical illness or trauma, bereavement and other family related problems and unemployment.
Depression is noted as often being hereditary, so if members of your family experience it then you too may find that it affects your life.
There is no one true cause of depression, and for most people there is no cause at all. Depression can occur as a chemical imbalance in the brain, usually when there is problem with the serotonin transmitters, which are believed to control the flow and rate of happiness we experience.
Types of Depression
Depression can be grouped into several different categories. These are defined by the severity of the depression experienced and the reason for its occurrence.
Identifying the type of depression you suffer from is a step in the right direction, as it will allow you begin to understand why it is happening and what can be done to counter its effects.
Half of depression sufferers will be affected by the disorder once in their life, while the other half will find it to be a reoccurring problem.
Mild depression will have a negative but limited effect on your daily life, and although you will feel low and unmotivated you should still be able to engage in your daily activities.
The majority of us will experience some form of mild depression at least once in our life. Symptoms of mild depression include a lack of concentration and enjoyment, and occasionally a lack of appetite or difficulty sleeping.
People who suffer from major depression find that it greatly interferes with their everyday life and can make things like holding down a job seem impossible.
Major depression can have an extremely negative effect on an individual’s life and can lead to the break down of relationships and communication with others.
It can also greatly interfere with appetite and sleeping patterns, worsening the problem. Some people will only encounter major depression once in their lifetime whereas for others it will reoccur several times.
This can lead to hospital admission, as the individual may find it too difficult to engage in the everyday tasks we take for granted. If you suffer from major depression, or suspect a family member or friend might then it is extremely important that you contact your local Doctor.
Bi-polar depression is also known as manic depression, and it results in uncontrollable mood swings. People who suffer from bi-polar depression typically report of experiencing heightened instances of joy, generally followed by extreme sadness. Bi-polar depression can interfere in an individual’s life in different ways to major depression.
Maintaining relationships with friends and family can be very difficult as the individual will be unable to control their feelings towards others.
People who suffer from severe cases of bi-polar depression often engage in activities that seem illogical to others, but this is generally the result of a flux in their perception of the world around them.
Post-natal depression is a very common occurrence in new mothers, and is often the result of the sheer exhaustion that comes from carrying a child for nine months.
Post-natal depression typically manifests itself in feelings of anxiety over caring for the baby, and in some cases new mothers will feel completely detached and indifferent to their child.
The length and severity this type of depression will vary from mother to mother, but in most cases it lasts no longer than a couple of weeks.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD, is a form of depression that is brought upon by the changing of the seasons. SAD generally starts around winter, when the days become darker and the nights are longer.
SAD is associated with a lack of sunlight, but can occur in the summer too. People who suffer from SAD report that it affects their eating and sleeping patterns, and can induce a lack of concentration and enthusiasm.
Different forms of depression require different forms of treatment, and it is extremely important that you seek out professional help if your depression is interfering with your day-to-day life.
For most people, simply discussing their feelings with someone will provide some form of relief, whereas for others medical treatment will be a more suitable option.
The most important thing to remember is that you are not alone, and that millions of people all over the world suffer from depression.