Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders, with more than 264 million people worldwide suffering from it. And this number is only growing: depression diagnosis rates in the United States have risen 50% since 2005. But what exactly does being diagnosed with depression mean? What causes it, and who’s most likely to experience it? And how can you treat and manage your symptoms if you’re ever diagnosed with depression yourself? Read on to learn all this and more!
What is Depression?
Depression is a mental health condition that causes feelings of sadness and/or loss of interest. It can make you feel like life isn’t worth living or that nothing will ever get better. Depression can last for days, weeks, months, or even years.
Risk factors for depression include genetics and a history of trauma.
Depression is a common mental health condition that can affect anyone. While some people may experience depression after a traumatic event, there are other factors that can contribute to the development of depression.
Disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and bipolar disorder are known risk factors for depression. Studies have shown that individuals who have experienced childhood abuse or neglect, were bullied at school, or were victims of violence are more likely to develop depression than those who haven’t experienced these things.
Trauma can be physical or emotional—physical trauma includes accidents; emotional trauma includes neglect and abuse by a caregiver, isolation during childhood years due to bullying at school (for example), being victimized by crime and witnessing it first-hand—and it may occur once or multiple times over time without any break between incidents.
The symptoms can make it seem impossible to get through the day.
Depression is more than just sadness. It can cause you to feel exhausted, worthless, or hopeless—even if your life seems perfect on the outside. Depression can affect your sleep patterns, appetite, weight gain or loss, energy levels, concentration, memory, and decision-making ability.
Symptoms of depression include:
- A persistently sad or empty mood that doesn’t go away after a few weeks
- Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism about the future
- Loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy; feeling emotionally numb; not being able to find pleasure in things you used to enjoy (such as music)
- Changes in sleeping patterns: either sleeping too much or not enough (also known as hypersomnia or insomnia)
- A change in appetite — eating too little (anorexia), overeating (binge-eating disorder) — or no appetite at all
- Weight gain or loss due to changes in eating habits. If any of these symptoms last longer than two weeks and/or come with other physical problems such as excessive fatigue or headaches on most days for two weeks, then it’s likely that there may be something wrong with your mental health.
Depression is treatable, but many people who have it don’t seek help.
- Treatment is essential to reduce the risk of suicide.
- Many people who have depression don’t seek help because they’re afraid of being stigmatized or don’t think it will work.
- Some people do not know where to go for treatment, or their insurance doesn’t cover mental health services.
It’s essential to seek treatment for depression because changes in mood and behavior can affect your quality of life and your health.
Depression affects the way you think and feel. It can affect your eating habits, sleep habits, and how you feel about yourself. Depression can also negatively affect your body’s immune system, making it harder to fight colds and other illnesses.
Depression can be severe enough to require hospitalization or ongoing treatment with medication to get better. However, many different depression treatments are available for people who want to improve their mood without taking drugs for long periods or undergoing surgery.
If you’re depressed, there are many ways to find relief. A supportive community can help support groups or individual therapy with a licensed mental health professional. If your symptoms are severe, medication may be necessary; a doctor can provide guidance on the types of medication available for depression (and any side effects that might affect you).