Not all depression is the same, and how it affects each person is unique based on several factors. This can sometimes make it difficult to differentiate between temporary episodes of sadness and prolonged periods of suffering. Symptoms can range from mild and fleeting to severe and debilitating. There are several recognized types of depression, but the one that is most frequently treated is clinical depression. Doctors and psychiatrists will use a specific set of criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM-5, to diagnose this type of mood disorder.
What is Depression?
If you’ve ever looked up depression, you’ve probably seen terms like “major depressive disorder” alongside the other phrases like clinical depression, which can be confusing. Major depression, major depressive disorder and clinical depression all refer to the same problem.
This type of mood disorder is more serious than simply feeling overwhelmed or sad. It often includes symptoms like the following:
– Sudden emotional outbursts
– Depressed mood
– Constant irritability
– Feelings of tearfulness or hopelessness
– Sluggishness and slowed thinking
– Fixation on past mistakes
– Unexplained physical aches and pains
– Anxiety or restlessness
– Trouble concentrating or making decisions
– Sleeping too much or too little
– Suicidal thoughts or feelings
While any of these things can happen to people sometimes, it’s significant if multiple symptoms occur and persist over a period of time. Generally speaking, these issues are severe enough to cause noticeable problems in a person’s daily life.
How Does Major Depression Differ From “Regular” Depression?
Being diagnosed with major depressive disorder is not “better” or “worse” than experiencing any other form of depression. All forms of this disorder are valid and should be treated just as seriously as any other medical problem.
Some of the other mood disorders in this category include situational depression, seasonal affective disorder and atypical depression.
The truth is that major depression isn’t all that different from any other form of depression in terms of how it can affect your life and how it’s treated. In fact, almost all mild and moderate forms of this condition can be treated in a similar fashion.
In most cases, people with mild or moderate forms of depressive mood disorders can benefit from a combination of psychotherapy, antidepressant medication and cognitive exercises. Those with seasonal affective disorder can also improve with the use of light therapy.
How Do I Know if I’m Depressed?
The biggest problem most people have when it comes to treating depression is knowing when to see a doctor. Often, people think that they’re “just sad” or “a little stressed” and that they will eventually get over it and be back to normal.
In a small number of situations, this does happen. However, most people don’t just “get over it,” and trying to simply live with these feelings can unnecessarily hurt your quality of life.
Depression can happen to anyone for a variety of reasons, and factors like your hormones and genes can play a part in how susceptible you are to becoming depressed.
If you’ve noticed that your sleep patterns have changed, you’re not feeling happy about things that you used to enjoy, you’re unusually achy or you’re simply feeling “off” for a prolonged period of time, you should discuss the possibility of depression with your doctor.
Even if you do not want to take medication, you and your doctor can discuss the problems that you’re having in a more in-depth manner. Your doctor can then make suggestions regarding therapy and other possible treatment options. Sometimes, depression can also be sign of a more serious medical issue.
What Are the Treatment Options?
For major depressive disorder, treatment plans are usually more involved. Because this is a condition that requires long-term management, doctors and therapists often employ multiple strategies according to an individual’s needs. This usually includes a combination of medication, counseling and wellness exercises such as meditation.
Milder forms of depression can generally be managed with counseling sessions and changes to nutrition and exercise. However, some people can benefit immensely from medication as well, so it’s usually up to the discretion of your doctor as to which types of treatments may be most helpful for you.
In the most severe cases, a depressed person might need to temporarily stay in the hospital until the worst of his or her symptoms is under control. This is to keep both the person and his or her family safe.
Depression Can Be Managed
Regardless of how severe an instance of depression may be, there are so many treatment options available that anyone can get the help he or she deserves.
Avalon Malibu is a world-renowned, California state-licensed mental health and substance abuse recovery center. If you are ready to seek treatment to develop the tools you need to overcome life’s obstacles and be on the road towards happiness, health, and well-being, call us today at 888-343-3248 for a consultation.