It’s always a pleasure to share articles and resources about depression and other disorders due to my background in mental health.
As you know, feeling “blue” from time to time can be a natural and appropriate response to a stressful or catastrophic situation. Yet, staying in a blue depressive mood for a long time is not a healthy or normal condition. Depression is a serious ailment that can cost a life if left untreated.
Symptoms of Depression
What exactly is depression or, clinically called, major depressive disorder (MDD)?
In order to be diagnosed with MDD, a person has to experience symptoms that affect how she/he feels, thinks, and engages in daily activities (sleeping, eating, studying, working, etc.). The individual must be experiencing five or more symptoms most of the day, nearly every day, for at least two weeks. And at least one of the symptoms should be either a depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure. The severity of the condition depends on the degree and frequency of symptoms.
According to the DSM-5, you may be suffering from depression if experiencing:
- Persistent sad or “empty” mood
- Feelings of hopelessness, or pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
- Decreased energy or fatigue
- Moving or talking more slowly
- Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
- Appetite and/or weight changes
- Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease even with treatment
- Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
Types of Depression
Depression can take different forms in people.
- Major Depressive Disorder (MDD): As explained above, the symptoms must take place for at least 2 weeks.
- Persistent Depressive Disorder (or Dysthymia): Depressed moods that last for at least two years.
- Peripartum or Postpartum Depression: Women experiencing MDD during or after delivery (postpartum).
- Psychotic Depression: Depression accompanied by some form of psychosis, such as having delusions (disturbing beliefs not based on reality) or hallucinations (hearing or seeing things that others cannot hear or see).
- Seasonal Affective Disorder: The onset of depression takes place during the winter months.
- Bipolar Disorder: Episodes of major depression along with manic episodes (periods of extremely high – euphoric or irritable – moods as well as elated and energized behavior), or a less severe form called “hypomania.”
There are diverse treatments for depression:
- Psychotherapy: Cognitive-behavioral, interpersonal, dialectical, group and family therapies can provide great results. Psycho-education and support groups can also be valuable.
- Pharmacotherapy: Medications such as anti-depressants or mood stabilizers are sometimes needed but, like most pharmaceuticals, they can bring along unwanted side-effects.
- Brain Stimulation Therapies: Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) may be an option to explore when medications do not reduce symptoms. Yet, there are severe side-effects associated with it.
- Psychedelics: These hallucinatory and consciousness-altering drugs like mescaline, LSD, psilocybin, and DMT are now appreciated for their positive effects on mood and addiction. Ketamine is providing great results for treatment-resistant depression. Tim Ferriss, a best-selling author, investors, and blogger, has a couple of great interviews on the matter (Psychedelics – Microdosing, Mind-Enhancing Methods, and More & Michael Pollan — Exploring the Frontiers of Psychedelics).
- Lifestyle & Natural Treatments: Even if some of the above treatments are utilized, it is highly advisable to simultaneously address your lifestyle in order to deal with your emotional issues. A holistic approach is necessary as our mind cannot be treated in isolation because we are wholesome beings. The emotional, cognitive, and behavioral systems are intertwined. Learn more about a holistic approach on my book 28 Days to a New Life and about natural treatments on my article Deal with Depressive Moods Naturally.
The following is a list of Mental Health Helplines, Suicide Hotlines, And Depression Advice Centers worldwide compiled by HappyHappyVegan
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