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Depression: Symptoms, Causes Treatment & More

 

Overview

Depression (major depressive disorder or clinical depression) is a common but serious mood disorder. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working. Depression is not the same as a passing blue mood or a temporary sense of loss. These feelings can easily be related to other factors and usually pass with time.

Depression

 
Depression is a medical condition that negatively impacts energy levels and cognitive function for no apparent reason with no solution in sight. The outlook of depression can vary depending on age and severity of the symptoms. Some people only experience milder depression while others are crippled by severe depression symptoms indefinitely; yet others may cycle between periods of feeling normal to depressed phases along with periods where they have fewer or less severe symptoms.

Some states of depression are slightly different, or they may develop under special circumstances, such as:

1. Mild depression

"Mild depression" is the term used to describe depression that is not extremely severe. It includes symptoms such as: low energy, feeling sad or worthless, and trouble making decisions. While mild depression isn't life-threatening, it can cause problems at work and in school. If you are depressed, you may not want to get out of bed. More severe depressive symptoms include: feeling sad or having little pleasure in activities you usually enjoy, and feeling tired all the time

2. Severe depression

"Severe depression" is commonly known as clinical (serious) or major depressive disorder (MDD). These are symptoms that last for more than two weeks and require treatment by a physician or therapist. Severe depression symptoms include: having trouble sleeping or sleeping too much, loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed, loss of energy, and thoughts of death or suicide

3. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

If you experience depression in the winter months, it's called seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD affects about 15 percent of the population from fall through spring. People with SAD have more severe symptoms and a higher risk of suicide. Some people with SAD also experience changes in hormones that make them feel sad or tired during the fall and winter months.

4. Bipolar disorder

People with bipolar disorder have mood swings that are extreme between periods of depression, mania, and hypomania. The manic period is when someone is "high" on energy and full of ideas. The depressed phase is characterized by low energy and loss of self-confidence

5. Postpartum depression

It is a type of depression that occurs in new mothers. It happens after the birth of a child and may affect up to one-fourth of women. Postpartum depression symptoms may include feeling sad or hopeless, not sleeping well, feeling anxious or irritable, and not being able to concentrate.

Symptoms:

The symptoms of depression can vary from person to person. They can include:

1. Low energy

People with depression feel very tired and have little energy for the things they used to enjoy, such as working, studying, or reading. Depression affects your ability to concentrate and make decisions. It may also cause you to lose interest in things you once enjoyed, such as sports, relationships, or writing poetry.

2. Sadness and hopelessness

Depressed people often feel sad almost all of the time and have no motivation to do things they once enjoyed. You may also have trouble sleeping because of your negative emotions or thoughts of death or suicide.

3. Loss of interest in activities

People with depression may have trouble doing the things they once enjoyed, such as reading, sleeping, sex, or spending time with friends. They may even lose interest in activities that were once important to them, such as work.

4. Loss of energy

Those with depression may feel tired all the time and have little energy for doing things they once enjoyed. This can contribute to a loss of interest in life and a feeling that their life is not worth living.

5. Decreased self-esteem

People with severe depression often think about suicide because they feel hopeless and worthless. They may feel that they are a burden to those with whom they are close. They usually have low self-esteem and will have difficulty trusting others.

6. Aches and pains

It is common for depressed people to experience aches, joint pain, headaches, or stomach problems that are not related to physical symptoms of the illness. Depression can cause arthritis, which is inflammation of the joints, as well as multiple sclerosis (MS), which is an autoimmune disease that causes numbness and tingling in the fingers, arms or legs.

7. Sleep problems

Many people with depression have trouble sleeping or sleeping too much. They also experience strange dreams, nightmares or early morning awakenings.

8. Thoughts of death or suicide

A person who is depressed may have recurrent thoughts of death or suicide. The person may think that he or she wants to die and has no reason to live. These feelings can be very frightening, but you should know that many people with depression do not actually carry out their suicidal thoughts. In some cases it is a cry for help and a way of expressing how they are feeling - they want to end their pain.

9. Anxiety and irritability

A person with depression often feels anxious and irritable, especially during the low energy and loss of interest in things phase. The person may also find it difficult to get out of bed; this is because they have difficulty sleeping or getting restful sleep.

10. Thoughts of self-harm

People who are depressed often think about self-harm – deliberately cutting or burning themselves – to relieve their pain. It can be a cry for help and an expression of how they feel - they want to end their pain.

11. Thoughts about death and suicide

Some people who are depressed think about ending their life, such as committing suicide. In some cases, however, it is a cry for help and an expression of how they are feeling - they want to end their pain.

12. Weight gain and difficulty losing weight

People with depression often feel that they have gained weight because they are unable to eat properly or because they don't feel like eating. They may also experience pain when attempting to lose weight.

13. Reduced sexual desire

It is common for people with depression to have reduced sexual desire because of the lack of energy. They may also feel blunted or less than aroused.

14. Inability to concentrate or make decisions

Distracted people with depression often have trouble concentrating, making decisions, and planning. They may seem outwardly calm, but they are often very agitated inside.

15. Insomnia (difficulty sleeping)

Because of their symptoms or lack of sleep, depressed people often have difficulty sleeping. This can cause irritability and insomnia (trouble sleeping).

16. Lack of motivation

People with depression often have little motivation for things they once enjoyed, such as work or a hobby that used to bring them joy.

17. Difficulty make decisions

Depressed people sometimes have trouble making decisions or concentrating on their tasks. They may even use this to avoid responsibilities by saying, "I don't feel like it."

18. Lack of energy and low motivation

People with depression may feel tired all the time and have difficulty concentrating or getting out of bed in the morning. This can contribute to a loss of interest in life and a feeling that they are not worth living.

19. Sadness and crying spells

People with depression often start crying unprovoked, especially during the mood low phase. The tears that are shed are over the same issue day after day. They feel like they have no control over their emotions.

20. Change in eating habits

People with depression often experience a loss of appetite leading to overeating during the "gaining weight" period of the illness. It may also cause them to lose interest in food and eat very little. Depression can also cause food cravings, binge eating, or an inability to swallow properly.

21.- Aches and pains Depression can even cause arthritis, which is inflammation of the joints, as well as multiple sclerosis (MS), which is an autoimmune disease that causes numbness and tingling in the fingers, arms or legs.

What are the causes of depression?

Depression is a brain disease. It is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain and it can't be cured by will-power alone. Genes also play an important role in many cases. Other leading causes of depression are: - Stressful life events such as losing a loved one, divorce, financial problems or job loss can trigger depression. - A traumatic event like rape, assault, or other violence. - Some illnesses that cause pain and disability such as cancer or CVS (Chronic Viral Syndrome). - Substance abuse like alcoholism and drug addiction can cause depression.

1. Psychological factors

Depression is a disease of the mind, not of the body. A person with depression may also have anxiety attacks, panic attacks and thoughts of suicide because these all stem from psychological factors. When a person is depressed, he/she has the tendency to think in negative ways about themselves and the world around them. These kinds of thinking lead to low self-esteem and negative self talk, which causes many symptoms to arise from that depression.

2. Genetic factors

Scientists have found that depression and anxiety disorders tend to run in families, suggesting a strong genetic influence. Studies have also suggested that depression may be linked to alterations in certain areas of the brain called the limbic system. These changes may be inherited from a person's parents.

3. Hormonal factors

Hormonal imbalances can lead to feeling sad, worthless and hopeless, which is typical of depression and other mood disorders. Hormones are chemicals that help regulate our bodies processes such as digestion, growth and reproduction. Many hormones, including serotonin, are made by the same gland - the pituitary gland - but the messages these hormones send out work in opposition to each other like ying and yang. When people suffer from depression, the pituitary gland doesn't work as well or as efficiently, so the body can't regulate these hormones correctly.

4. Stress

People who have a stressful life tend to have higher instances of depression, and men in particular seem to be affected by this. The main types of stress that can lead to depression are: - Relationship problems with work, family or friends. - Financial problems, struggling through difficult times such as having no job or money. - Not getting along with people at work, school or home (if they're close relatives). - Being laid off from a job. - Living a violent lifestyle where you feel unsafe in your surroundings and need to look out for your own safety on a daily basis are signs of stress too because it will become overwhelming for someone to deal with every day.

5. Poor diet

Depression is usually accompanied by psychological and emotional problems such as low self-esteem, lack of interest and motivation, poor sleep, and poor concentration. A person suffering from depression will try to focus on what's wrong with him/her even more than usual. This in turn can lead to negative thoughts about themselves, others and the world around them. The end result is that people without enough energy won't be able to keep up with their daily activities. If they're not eating properly, they won't be able to produce enough energy either. They'll become depressed because their body will be weakened by these circumstances that it can no longer cope with the demands of daily life on its own accord.

6. Substance abuse

A person may become depressed after a period of alcoholism, drug addiction or other types of substance abuse for a number of reasons. Substance abuse can lead to suicidal thoughts, depression and anxiety. Many people who start abusing drugs or alcohol will often experience these consequences as well.

7. Infection

Some infections can cause depression by weakening the immune system and causing low immunity, which is why people get sick in the first place. Some infections that can cause depression are: - CVS - Chronic viral syndrome - Lyme disease Depression can also result from a brain infection. An infection in the brain can affect the limbic system (which is the area responsible for emotion and memory) or the hypothalamus (which is responsible for body temperature, hunger, thirst and sleep), which can cause depression and other mood disorders.

8. Physical problems

Though having a physical illness won't always lead to depression, sometimes it does. Some illnesses that are known to cause depression include: 

- Thyroid disease 

- Diabetes 

- Heart disease 

- Cancer Brain tumors in particular may contribute to feelings of sadness or depression because they're pressing against areas of your cortex that control emotions as well as cognitive abilities like thinking and judgment.

9. Medication

Many medications today can cause depression in patients who take them for both long term and short term use. It's important to check with your doctor before using a new medication for any reason, even for something as simple as a headache or stomach pain. If you have to take any type of medication regularly, it's important to talk to your doctor first about possible side effects of the medication that could lead to depression or other mood disorders. You should also monitor how you feel while taking the medication because it's possible that you may start feeling depressed if it isn't taken properly or causes an adverse reaction in your system due to an allergy or sensitivity.

10. Treatment for other medical conditions

Depression sometimes develops as a side effect of a person's treatment for another illness. The treatment involved in the disease could be physical, such as surgery, or chemical. Depression is not a sign that the treatment is not working or that there's something wrong with the patient. Sometimes, it can simply be that there's an underlying cause to the depression that is being treated. The medication taken to treat this condition may also be causing depression as a side effect. Sometimes, a person may be diagnosed as having depression but does not require treatment because it's caused by another illness or disorder.

 

Treatment and Therapies:

Depending on the cause of depression, a person who is experiencing depression may be going through biological treatments such as psychiatric medications. If you have been diagnosed with depression, your doctor will also help you understand the causes of your condition and give you information about treatment options that are available to you. Some of these options include: 

- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) 

- Psychotherapy 

- Medication 

- Relaxation techniques

If the depression is caused by a physical illness or side effect from treatment for another medical condition, the treatment for this illness should start to help treat your depression. For example, if an infection in your body has caused your depression, an antibiotic may be prescribed along with other psychiatric medication to treat both conditions at once.

If the depression is caused by stress, learning how to cope with stress can often be enough to completely help someone who is trying to overcome their condition. Stress management techniques may help someone cope with everyday life stresses that lead to depression in addition to getting treatment for their depression.

According to the American Pregnancy Association (APA), women often experience a number of symptoms of depression during pregnancy as a result of hormonal changes in the body as well as stress hormones produced by the developing fetus starting from conception. Common signs include:

- Mood swings 

- Anxiety or panic attacks 

- Cravings for strange or unusual foods 

- Insomnia/trouble sleeping 

- Depression (feeling sad, hopeless, helpless)

Although it's important to seek medical attention for any of these conditions, many women find that the natural remedies for depression help them to feel better. If you are suffering from depression during pregnancy, it is also important to consult an obstetrician regarding your depression and/or anxiety.

When looking for a source of help regarding depression during pregnancy, many women who have experienced similar symptoms have found success with herbal remedies. 

Some herbal remedies that may be helpful during the first trimester include:

- German chamomile 

- St. John's wort 

- Black cohosh

Some herbal remedies to try during the second trimester include:

- Calendula 

- Evening primrose oil 

- Dong quai

Once the third trimester begins, some women have found relief from these natural remedies for depression and anxiety:

- Passionflower - Lemon balm - Lavender

These herbal remedies have many common properties. They are all considered relaxants, and therefore may help with sleep problems that many women experience during pregnancy. They also reduce stress hormones in the body, which may lower a woman's levels of anxiety and stress. Although herbal remedies are not as effective as prescription medications, they are often considered safer for a woman and her baby.

Drugs for depression during pregnancy:

Drug therapy is often necessary to treat severe cases of depression. For mild and moderate cases, antidepressants can be used to help relieve the symptoms. Antidepressants are highly effective when used correctly and can be taken orally, by injection, or by inhalation for immediate relief from depressive symptoms. When choosing a medication for your depression during pregnancy, you should make sure the medication is one that comes with a warning label stating it should only be used during pregnancy if life-threatening risks are present.

The most widely prescribed antidepressant is selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These medications are considered safe throughout all stages of pregnancy and have been shown to have few side effects to women or their unborn child.

Exercise

If you are suffering from depression, it is important to find healthy ways to cope with your condition. Regular exercise can help relieve stress, which may in turn help relieve symptoms of depression. Exercise can also help improve your overall health and the quality of your life while treating your depression.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), moderate exercise during pregnancy has been suggested as an alternative treatment for depression. Studies have shown that women who have mild to moderate cases of depression during pregnancy have had improvements in their symptoms when they participate in an aerobic exercise program regularly. ACOG suggests exercising at a moderate intensity for 30-45 minutes three times per week.

When determining what type of exercise to do, you should consult your obstetrician for their advice. The best types of activity during pregnancy include walking, water aerobics, and stationary bike riding. Activities such as running and high-impact exercises may be dangerous for your baby if you have certain conditions such as placenta previa or multiple pregnancy. If you have been experiencing depression during pregnancy, try exercising regularly in order to start feeling better.

It is important to discuss any concerns regarding depression or mental illness with a medical professional before making any changes to your current treatment plan.

Medical professionals

First, see your doctor. Do not stop taking any prescribed medications simply because you are pregnant. Pregnancy is no reason to stop taking prescription medications without discussing it with your doctor. Discussing possible options for treatment with a doctor may help you feel more comfortable about making the decision.

Counseling or therapy can be beneficial in treating mild to moderate cases of depression. Even though depression is considered a normal reaction to hormonal changes throughout the span of a woman's life, many women find that counseling helps them begin to feel better and cope with their everyday situations more easily than they did before beginning therapy.

There are also many types of counseling possible for treating depression during pregnancy, and many different types of therapists who specialize in these kinds of issues. If you are interested in finding a therapist to help treat your depression, it is important to determine what type of counselor is best for your unique case. Some of the options include:

The first step in finding a therapist is deciding what type of therapy would work for you in treating your depression during pregnancy.

If you are seeking treatment for mild to moderate depression, antidepressants may be most effective. Many doctors and psychologists recommend these types of drugs as safe during pregnancy and highly effective in alleviating symptoms. Antidepressants come with a warning on them describing their adverse effects on an unborn child. Discussing these negative effects with your doctor can help them become aware of any dangers that may be present before prescribing the medication to you.

In addition to antidepressants, some women have found success with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). During this type of therapy, you meet with a therapist who helps you to recognize any thoughts or behaviors that may be contributing to your depression. The therapist helps you change these thoughts and behaviors into ones that are more positive in order to help deal with the symptoms of depression. CBT has been shown to be an effective treatment method for mild cases of depression during pregnancy.

According to a report by the American Psychological Association, counseling is an effective treatment method for depression during pregnancy. Professional counseling sessions can help you feel less burdened by your feelings and give you the tools necessary for coping with your emotions in a healthy manner. Professional counselors can help you to make changes to your life that will help you with your depression and make it more bearable.

 

Beyond Treatment: Things You Can Do. 

There are many things you can do to help yourself with depression during your pregnancy. If you are not ready to seek professional help, try these tips suggested by the National Institute of Mental Health and the University of Michigan:

• Ask for support.   When you are feeling down, people can often be more supportive than you might expect. If you need a friend, family member, or partner to talk to that understands depression during pregnancy and has good advice on how to cope, ask them!

• Participate in activities.   Many women find that being out-of-doors helps them feel better when they are depressed. Try going for a walk or taking up an exercise regimen such as walking or jogging.

• Make a list of things to be thankful for.   Written gratitude lists can be a great tool for dealing with depression during pregnancy. You can keep a list in your journal or in the back of your phone.

• Get support from others.   Take advantage of online communities or forums where you may find good advice on how to deal with depression during pregnancy, how to find professional help, and what works best for others. Try subscribing to your local newspaper's "Moms Share" section for tips on raising healthy children and finding support, as well as online forums where you can sometimes ask specific questions about parenting.

• Find comfort in nature.   Many women find that being in nature and getting away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life can help them feel better. Take a walk, sit outside, or listen to soothing music while enjoying a cup of tea.

• Set small achievable goals.   When you are depressed, it is common to get overwhelmed by everything you have yet to accomplish, and focus on what you have done wrong. Setting small goals such as cleaning your house or organizing your closet can be an effective way to help cope with depression during pregnancy without stressing yourself out about all the things you need to do for your baby's arrival.

• Don't judge yourself too harshly.   When you are depressed, you may think that you are terrible and unworthy of happiness. Try to remind yourself that everyone has mood swings, and that if you start feeling better, so will others around you.

• Get enough sleep.   Getting enough rest is important for everyone, but it is especially so during pregnancy when it is possible for your body to produce more hormones or changes in sleep patterns. Make sure you are getting on a good night's sleep schedule and ensuring that naps are being taken as needed.

• Don't neglect yourself .   If depression during pregnancy causes you to neglect your own needs, try to take time to put yourself first without feeling guilty about it. Take a bath, get a massage, or cook something for yourself that makes you feel good.

• Be kind to yourself.   Following the tips above can help, but you need to go deeper. Accepting that you are hurting and letting others see how sad you are can help them understand your situation better and be more willing to support you. Don't bottle up your emotions or try to hide your pain from others, as they may not know what to do with them!

If depression during pregnancy is affecting your daily life, consider seeking professional counseling. Counseling can help you address feelings of hopelessness and despair that may have resulted from the depression and allow you to come out of it on a positive note.

 

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