One Word: Depression

This article was originally uploaded on September 15, 2020.

Depression is a mental illness that affects a person’s body, mood, and thoughts. It causes changes in the way a person eats, sleeps, feels about himself or herself, and thinks about things. Depression is different for every single person experiencing it and can take on many forms. However, there are a few common symptoms of depression, including deep feelings of sadness, dark moods, feelings of worthlessness and/or hopelessness, appetite changes, sleep changes, lack of energy, inability to concentrate, difficulty getting through regular activities, lack of interest in things the person used to enjoy, withdrawal from friends and family, preoccupation with death, and thoughts of self-harm.

Globally, more than 264 million people suffer from depression. Depression is the leading cause of disability in the world. According to the World Health Organization, one in four people will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives making awareness necessary. Depression can affect anyone, even those who live in ideal circumstances. Anthony Rothschild, MD, professor of psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, believes people with major depression are high-functioning too, and that they can be from any walk of life from doctors to lawyers to judges. He went on to say that those with depression suffer and are held back from reaching their potential.

Based on healthline, there are nine primary types of depression which are major depression, persistent depression, manic depression, or bipolar disorder, depressive psychosis, perinatal depression, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, seasonal depression, situational depression, and atypical depression. Those with major depression experience many of the symptoms mentioned before daily. Persistent depression, which is similar to major depression, lasts for two years or more. It’s also known as dysthymia or chronic depression. Furthermore, manic depression is a type of depression that can progress into bipolar disorder. Manic depression consists of mania or hypomania, where a person feels very happy, alternating with episodes of depression. Those who experience depressive psychosis are people who have major depression who also go through periods where they lose touch with reality and have hallucinations and delusions, which is known as psychosis. The fifth type of depression I will be writing about is perinatal depression, also known as postpartum depression. This type of depression occurs during pregnancy or within four weeks of childbirth. Women who lack support or have had depression before have more risk of developing perinatal depression. Similar to perinatal depression, only women experience premenstrual dysphoric depression (PMDD). PMDD is a severe form of premenstrual depression (PMS) during which women experience a high level of depression leading up to their period. Moreover, seasonal depression is depression related to certain seasons. Most people tend to experience this type of depression during the winter. Another type of depression is situational depression, also known clinically as adjustment disorder. This type of depression is brought onto people by specific events and situations. The last type of depression I will be writing about is atypical depression, which refers to depression that temporarily goes away in response to positive events. This type of depression isn’t unusual and is not more or less serious than other types of depression. It is important to know that there are many more types of depression than the ones I have mentioned.

Based on the American Psychiatric Association, several factors play a role in depression. One factor is biochemistry, as different chemicals in the brain can contribute to symptoms of depression. Another factor is genetics. Believe it or not, depression can run in families. Environmental factors also play a role in depression, as well. For example, those who are continuously exposed to violence, neglect, abuse or poverty are more vulnerable to depression.

Now, it is important to know that sadness and depression are different things. Sadness is a natural feeling. Depression, however, is an illness. Please do not say things like “I’m depressed” when you’re actually only sad as you are discrediting the struggles of those who are going through depression when you say such things. However, it is necessary to know that sadness can turn into depression. Based on, signs of this transformation are persistent feelings of sadness, emptiness, irritability, restlessness, anxiety, hopelessness, and helplessness, loss of interest in activities he or she once enjoyed, low energy or feelings of fatigue, trouble with concentration, memory, and decision-making, changes in appetite, weight, and sleep patterns, and physical symptoms that don’t subside with treatment.

While some claim they are depressed when they are only sad, others claim their depression as sadness. High-functioning depression is a type of depression that does not affect how a person fulfills his or her daily responsibilities, however, is still intense and is not any less difficult than other types of depression. People with high-functioning depression are sometimes adept at hiding these symptoms, according to Talkspace therapist Samantha White. Those who experience this depression worry about others discovering their illness which should not be the case. Unfortunately, society has created a stigma around depression that should not be present. Anybody can be a victim of depression and that is okay.

Please remember that you are not alone, and help is available.