Introduction to Depression
Generally depression is classified as being chronically sad. This is true to an extent however it’s not the full picture and it doesn’t really do it justice for such a complex issue. Depression is becoming one of the most common mental health problems in the United States with about 1 in 15 being affected at any given year, and 1 in 6 have had it at some point during their life.
This is why it’s so important to know about this so you can help a loved one or even yourself if the time comes, or if the time is already here.
In this article we’ll talk about the types, symptoms, and some treatments for depression.
Symptoms of Depression
It’s important to note that depression is different from grief, and while this may sound obvious; grief can come with extremely intense sadness and can even lead to fantasizing about following the deceased into the afterlife. However grief has some major differences from depression.
First, grief has a specific reason for the sadness (i.e. someone died), while depression is usually more vague and the cause is usually unknown to the individual.
Secondly, Grief comes in waves and is pretty intense but it’s interspersed with positive memories of the deceased while depression is usually less intense (however not always) but is more like a constant flow of water rather than a wave.
Thirdly, Grief is usually over within a month or so, however depression could last years, or even 10 years if help is never sought out.
Remember that symptoms must persist for at least 2 weeks and must be a clear change from how you were before.
- A Sad, anxious, Depressive, or empty mood
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
- A change in appetite, whether it’s eating more or eating less
- Trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, waking up, or being sleepy during the day
- Loss of energy, increased fatigue, or constantly feeling drained
- Increase in purposeless physical activity (can’t sit still, fidgeting, pacing, leg shaking, etc.) (must be enough for someone else to notice)
- Slowed Movement or Speech
- Feeling worthless, guilty
- Difficulty thinking, concentrating, or making decisions
- Thoughts of death or suicide.
There are some medical conditions that can mimic depression symptoms and should be ruled out. These include having thyroid (hormonal) hyperactivity or hypoactivity, a brain tumor, or a vitamin deficiency.
Types of Depression
There are many types of depression and they all affect the person a little differently. These are more specific and would not apply to the majority of people with more general depression.
Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD) (Dysthymia)
To be classified as PDD symptoms must last for at least 2 years. A person may not experience intense symptoms the entire time, they could go through episodes of severe depression and then have periods of less intense symptoms in a cycle. However this must persist over a long period of time (2 years).
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
This is a relatively new type of depression. Recently it’s been recognized some women go through severe depressive states about a week before menstruation starts.
These symptoms only last during this time period and disappear after menstruation ends. Only to resurface at the same time next cycle.
Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder
This is a condition that is found in children ages 6 to 18 where they experience extreme irritability and have verbal or physical outbursts disproportionate of the circumstance frequently (2 or 3 times a week) and are not consistent for their developmental piers.
In between outbursts the child mood is angry or frustrated for most of the day, and for most days of the week. Other people they interact with will notice it too, whether it’s teachers, students, etc.
Bipolar disorder is a totally different mental issue than depression, however there are some people with bipolar disorder that experience bipolar depression.
This is when they experience extreme lows that would qualify as major depression. These are followed by extreme highs where everything is fine for the most part, only to be replaced with extreme lows again.
There are several ways to go about treating depression. The good news is that depression is the most curable mental disorder currently with approximately 80-90% of patients that undergo treatment are cured.
On top of that almost all have some relief from their symptoms. Here are a few methods for treating depression.
Anti-depressants are prescribed for a chemical imbalance in the brain. By rectifying this imbalance it serves to ease symptoms or cure the depression altogether if that was the sole cause.
However it’s likely not the only cause, but it helps to get you to a place where you can fix the other problems easier.
Also known as “Talk therapy” can be very beneficial for people who’s depression stems from a traumatic event, or abuse.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been found to treat depression well in approximately 10 to 15 sessions.
There are some supplements that can help with depression. While the studies are not 100% conclusive, the supplements are often cheap (relative to other options), safe if doses are correctly followed, and potentially could improve your situation.
For this reason they are worth a try but should not substitute finding help. Some supplements that have potential is Magnesium Glycinate.
Magnesium Glycinate is a highly absorbable form of magnesium that can easily get into the brain and past the blood-brain barrier to actually provide some benefit.
Unlike other magnesiums like magnesium oxide, malate, citrate that are hard for the body to digest and are too large to pass though the blood-brain barrier, Magnesium Glycinate can and is paired with glycine (helps with lowering the stress hormone cortisol and promoting calmness).
In the neuro receptors magnesium normally block calcium and sodium from passing through.
However when you’re deficient in magnesium (like approximately 50% of Americans) these receptors are unblocked allowing the calcium and sodium to pass, leading to the channels to be opened constantly, depressive moods, and damaging the neurotransmitters.
A study in 2006 showed that in cases where the patient has major depression, magnesium was used to great effect at helping to alleviate these symptoms. Stating that
In conclusion, depression is not something that should be taken lightly, it’s a major mental disorder and can have serious consequences if not treated. There are some classic treatments and some relatively new treatments that show some promise to curing this mental disorder. See what works best for you. I hope you learned something and have a great day.