Depression may be described as feeling sad, blue, unhappy, miserable, or down in the dumps. Most of us feel this way at one time or another for short periods. Clinical depression is a mood disorder in which feelings of sadness, loss, anger, or frustration interfere with everyday life for 2 weeks or more.
A Closer Look
Depression - Animation
If you often feel sad, blue, unhappy, miserable, or down in the dumps, you may have depression. Let's talk about depression, and what you can do to get out of your funk. Depression often runs in families. This may be due to your genes, passed down by your parents and grandparents, the behaviors you learn at home, or both. Even if your genetic makeup makes you more likely to develop depression, a stressful or unhappy life event may trigger the depression. Depression can have many causes, including internal factors like genetics, or negative personality. External factors, substance misuse, or trauma and loss. Common triggers include alcohol or drug use, and medical problems long-term pain, cancer or even sleeping problems. Stressful life events, like getting laid off, abuse at home or on the job, neglect, family problems, death of a loved one, or divorce, can send someone spiraling into depression. There are three main types of depression, major depression, atypical depression and Dysthymia. To be diagnosed with major depression, you must demonstrate 5 or more of the primary symptoms for at least two weeks. Atypical depression occurs in about a third of patients with depression, with symptoms including overeating, oversleeping, and feeling like you are weighed down. Dysthymia is a milder form of depression that can last for years if not treated. Other forms include the depression that is part of bipolar disorder, postpartum depression, occurring after a woman gives birth, Premenstrual dysphoric disorder, occurring 1 week before a woman's menstrual period and seasonal affective disorder, occurring in both males and females during the fall and winter seasons. No matter what type of depression you have and how severe it is, some self-care steps can help. Get enough sleep if you can, exercise regularly, and follow a healthy, nutritious diet. Avoid alcohol and recreational drugs. Get involved in activities that make you happy and spend time with family and friends. If you are religious, talk to a clergy member. Consider meditation, tai chi, or other relaxation methods. If you are depressed for 2 weeks or longer, contact your doctor or other health professional before your symptoms get worse. Treatment will depend on your symptoms. For mild depression, counseling and self-care may be enough. Either psychotherapy or antidepressant medicines may help, but they are often more effective when combined. Vigorous exercise and light therapy could offer significant benefit alone or in combination. Healthy lifestyle habits can help prevent and treat depression, and reduce the chances of it coming back. Talk therapy and antidepressant medication can also make you less likely to become depressed again. In fact, talk therapy may help you through times of grief, stress, or low mood. In general, staying active, making a difference in the life of others, getting outside and keeping in close contact with other people is important for preventing depression.
Adolescent depression - Animation
Teenagers are typically moody. They can go from upbeat to moping in a matter of seconds. It's normal for teens to feel sad from time to time, but when that sadness sticks around day after day, it could be depression. Let's talk about adolescent depression. Teens have a lot of pressures in their lives that can lead to depression. They're growing physically, and dealing with a new surge of hormones. They're fighting for more independence from their parents while trying to figure out their place in the world. Some kids are bullied at school or abused at home. Others are faced with major life changes, like their parents' divorce or the loss of a loved one. Kids who are very critical of themselves or who have low self-esteem are more likely to get depressed. Those with learning disorders, ADHD, or anxiety are also more prone to depression. So, how do you know that your teen is depressed? Look for signs like: irritability, fatigue, trouble eating, sleeping, or concentrating, teens who are depressed may start using drugs or alcohol, their attitude changes. . . once good kids may start misbehaving, missing curfews and acting up to their parents and teachers. Also, their grades may drop and they may spend more time alone in their room. If these symptoms go on for at least two weeks, have your teen seen by a doctor. When left untreated, depression can increase the risk for suicide. Start with a visit to your family doctor, a psychologist, or a psychiatrist. The doctor will tailor treatment to your teen. Often treatment includes medicine, usually a type of antidepressant called a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, or SSRI. Examples are Prozac and Lexapro. Adolescents who are on these drugs need to be watched very carefully for side effects, like nervousness, irritability, and suicidal thoughts or actions. Most teens with depression feel better if they talk to someone. Meeting with a therapist can help them identify the negative thoughts that are causing their depression, and turn those thoughts around. Teens may meet with a therapist alone, with their family, or as part of a support group. Depression can affect every aspect of your teen's life, from school to relationships. Teens who are depressed are more likely to start using drugs or alcohol. Antidepressants and talk therapy can be very good at relieving depression. So if you suspect your teen is depressed, talk about it, and ask for help from a doctor or therapist you trust. Most important, call for help right away if you're afraid your teen might be thinking about suicide. Signs include giving away possessions, talking about hurting themselves, and pulling away from family and friends. Any suicidal thoughts need immediate medical attention.