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Depression: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

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Life is full of changes. And as we grow up, it becomes inevitable to avoid change that includes physical, emotional, and behavioral. This sometimes led to a feeling of sadness, stress, heartbreak, and even medical complications. If you are constantly feeling down and unworthy, then you probably have depression. This article defines depression, types of depression, and how they can be treated. 

Overview of Depression

So, what is depression? Wellthis is a common but serious medical issue that negatively affects your feelings, thoughts, and actions. Depression is also known as major depressive disorder, and it normally leads to significant emotional, physical, and behavioral problems. 

Symptoms of Depression

Symptoms of depression usually vary from person to person. This is because depression is an emotional issue, and it has different causes as well as effects. However, there are certain symptoms that most patients tend to have. 

Depression Symptoms in Children and Teens 

Adults can also display these symptoms, but they are normally common in teens and children. 

  • In teens: Poor academic performance, anger outbursts, constant irritability, sadness, extreme sensitivity, self-harm, alcohol use or drugs, change in sleep and eating patterns, and reduced social interactions. 
  • In younger children: Clinginess, constant worry or anxiety, sadness, irritability, change in weight, body aches, etc. 

Depression Symptoms in Older Adults

Getting older usually comes with lots of sad experiences, trauma, and changes.  That’s why many adults suffer from depression, and it often goes unnoticed, undiagnosed, and untreated. Unlike in kids, the symptoms may not be obvious, and they normally include: 

  • Suicidal thoughts 
  • Feeling unworthy or guilty. 
  • Physical pain and aches 
  • Change in personality 
  • Memory loss 
  • Change in sleep patterns and appetite 
  • Low libido 
  • Fatigue 

Types of Depression

Different factors trigger several types of depression. Depression test procedures indicate that these conditions vary in the way they affect human beings. Their severity, as well as longevity, is also different. Below is an overview of the most common types of depression, including their causes and symptoms? 

Depressed

Major Depression

It’s one of the most common types of depression.  When most people define what depression is, they mostly refer to this disorder. It involves a constant feeling of hopelessness and despair. Major depression is also known as clinical depression. 

The condition can affect all areas of your life, including study, sleep patterns, work, appetite, and social interactions. It should be noted that there are people who have clinical depression once in their lifetime. However, some can have it multiple times. 

Causes

The common triggers include: 

  • Death or loss of a loved one through separation. 
  • Emotional, physical, and sexual abuse 
  • Social isolation 
  • Personal conflicts 
  • Major life changes 

Symptoms

The most common symptoms of this condition are those that relate to depression and anxiety. They include: 

  • Frustration or constant irritability 
  • Frequently feeling sad, empty, and tearful. 
  • Sleeplessness, insomnia, sleeping too much. 
  • Slow decision making 
  • Trouble in concentration  
  • Anxiety and restlessness 
  • Unexplained physical problems like headaches and backaches 

Dysthymia (Persistent Depressive Disorder)

This is a chronic form of depression that’s persistent. Dysthymia has a significant effect on the life of the patient. As a result, they end up losing friends, disconnect from families, and lose jobs, among other things. 

Those with dysthymia may even find it to recognize happy situations. That’s why they are often described to have gloomy personalities. There’s nothing that literally brings them happiness.  

Causes 

The exact cause of this disorder isn’t known yet. However, clinical research reports indicate that it may involve one or more of the following symptoms: 

  • Change in brain chemicals that results in biological differences 
  • Change in brain chemistry caused by brain chemicals 
  • Inherited traits involving genetics 
  • Traumatic life events such as major depression or loss of a loved one, etc. 

Symptoms of Dysthymia 

Symptoms usually vary from person to person.  

  • A feeling of hopelessness 
  • Constant feeling of emptiness and sadness 
  • Excessive anger 
  • Trouble concentration or making decisions 

Manic Depression (Bipolar Disorder)

This is a mental health issue that’s characterized by extreme mood swings. So, the patient tends to have extremely high emotional highs and extremely low emotional lows.  

The episodes might occur several times throughout the week and spread out the whole monthIn some cases, some people may or may not experience emotional symptoms. Currently, bipolar doesn’t have cure; hence it’s a lifelong condition requiring proper medical management. 

Causes

It’s widely believed that chemical imbalances cause bipolar in the brain. These are neurotransmitters that are responsible for controlling the brain’s function. These chemicals include serotonin, noradrenaline, and dopamine.  

In some cases, bipolar disorder might be caused by genetics as well as environmental factors. Other triggers include stressful situations such as: 

  • Breakups and divorce 
  • Emotionalphysical, and sexual abuse 
  • Death of a loved one 

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder 

  • Feeling overly happy for long periods. 
  • Getting easily distracted 
  • Insomnia 
  • Overconfidence 
  • Engaging in several risky behaviors such as gambling with all your life savings, spending sprees, and impulsive sex 
  • Feeling extremely restless constantly. 
  • Racing thoughts that make you talk very fast

Postpartum Depression (Peripartum Depression)

Childbirth is an exciting experience for most women and families. It’s a joyous time that also comes with anxiety and stress. As a result, most women usually find it distressing and challenging as well. The emotional and physical changes are usually significant and may lead to what we call peripartum depression. It’s simply a type of depression that occurs after childbirth or during pregnancy. 

Causes

The mix of physical, hormonal, and behavioral changes can affect some women significantly. Peripartum depression is usually linked to psychological, social, and chemical changes in pregnancy and childbirth.  

Symptoms of Peripartum Depression

Generally, symptoms of postpartum depression can be quite challenging to detect. However, most women usually experience the following symptoms after childbirth: 

  • Reduced libido 
  • Increased fatigue 
  • Insomnia or sleeplessness 
  • Change in appetite 
  • Mood swings 
  • Constantly depressed mood or irritability 
  • Feeling worthless 
  • Lac of interest in the baby 
  • Fear of harming oneself or the baby 

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

This is a type of depression that’s simply related to changes in seasons. Well, it means that SAD usually begins and ends almost at the same time annually. Generally, people are more likely to experience SAD during the onset of fall, continuing through the winter months. But once it’s close to spring, the symptoms will gradually disappear. 

Causes

Clinical studies link SAD to a biochemical imbalance in the brain. This is usually triggered by the shorter daylight hours and less sunlight experienced in winter. Understand that as the weather changes, then the body’s biological internal clock will also change. This will cause them to be out of their daily schedule hence the stress that develops into depression. 

Symptoms of SAD 

  • Tiredness or fatigue 
  • The feeling of worthlessness or hopelessness 
  • Feeling depressed for most of the day every day. 
  • Change in sleep patterns] difficulty in concentrating 
  • Change in weight and appetite 

Psychotic Depression 

Those who have severe depression may also suffer from psychotic depression due to psychosis. It’s worth noting that when psychosis occurs alongside major depression, that is known as psychotic depression.  

This condition is prevalent in certain groups of people, including: 

Those who had a difficult childhood: these are adults who experienced adversity as kids. So, they are more predisposed to psychosis. 

  • Women: Clinical reports show that women are twice likely as men to develop psychotic depression. Reports indicate that almost 2/3 of patients with this condition are women. 
  • Genetics: Yes, this type of depression also runs in the family. If you have a parent or sibling with this condition, then your chances of developing it and quite high.  

Causes 

There’s no clear cause of this medical condition. Some theories suggest that’s it’s usually caused by a combination of certain inherited genes. It’s understood that some genes might be responsible for the development of psychotic symptoms. So, if you inherit such a gene, then your vulnerability to psychosis, depression, or both will be high. 

In some instances, it has been associated with high level of cortisol stress hormone. This condition is also prevalent in people with chronic stress.

Symptoms of Psychotic Depression 

  • Constant fatigue or lack of energy 
  • Depressed mood 
  • Change in sleep patterns or insomnia 
  • Poor concentration 
  • Diminished interest in things or activities you previously enjoyed 
  • A massive change in appetite and weight. 

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)

The female body usually undergoes significant changes depending on the situation. Menstrual cycles also come with their disorders as they normally cause mood swings. PMDD is a severe type of premenstrual syndrome. It mostly affects women of childbearing age. 

Generally, it usually occurs in a severe form and, therefore, it’s considered a chronic medical condition that needs critical medical attention. 

Causes

The exact cause of this condition is still not yet known. However, clinical studies link it to an abnormal reaction during normal hormonal changes during each menstrual cycle. 

The abnormal hormonal reaction usually causes a deficiency in serotonin, the feel-good hormone. Due to the low serotonin levels, a female may end up with disrupted moods and behavioral changes.  

Symptoms of PMDD

Out of the many types of depression, PMDD has one of the most extensive lists of symptomsIt should be noted that the symptoms mostly appear a week before the start of menstruation and will end a few days after the beginning of periods. 

Psychological symptoms 

  • Lack of control 
  • Irritability 
  • Nervousness 
  • Anxiety 
  • Paranoia 
  • Confusion 
  • Severe fatigue 
  • Emotional sensitivity 

Skin Problems 

  • Acne 
  • Aggravation of other skin disorders 
  • Skin inflammation 

Gastrointestinal Symptoms 

  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • Backache 
  • Bloating abdominal cramps 
  • Constipation 

Vascular and Neurologic symptoms 

  • Muscle spasms 
  • Increase heart palpitations headache 
  • Numbness or a tingling sensation 

Other symptoms 

  • Increased food cravings 
  • Painful menses 
  • Hot flushes 
  • Decreased coordination 

Atypical Depression

It’s a subtype of major depression. It’s sometimes used as the specifier to determine whether a patient has dysthymic disorder or major depression. Its first symptoms usually occur at an early age, especially during the teenage years.  

The nature of atypical depression is unpredictable despite its name, this depression type of not uncommon. It simply makes it hard for you to enjoy life as it will constantly fill you up with shades of sadness. 

It normally affects how you feel, behave, and think. As a result, it can easily lead to the development of physical and emotional problems. In severe cases, atypical depression can make it hard for you to perform daily activities. Some people end up feeling depressed as well as they may not see the worth of living. 

Causes

The exact cause of atypical depression isn’t yet known. It’s only known that it often starts during the teenage years, much earlier than the other types of depression. This means it can develop into a chronic depression if it’s not diagnosed and treated earlier on. 

Just like the other types of depression, there is a combination of factors that may lead to its development: 

  • Genetics: These are the inherited traits. You’re more likely to suffer from atypical depression if your relatives have it? 
  • Brain differences: If the neurotransmitters are impaired or abnormal, they may alter the nerve receptors’ function. This means that the nerve system will change, and this can lead to depression. 

Symptoms of Atypical Depression 

  • Symptoms usually vary from person to person. However, the key signs include: 
  • Heavy leaded feeling in your legs or arms that can last for more than one hour a day 
  • Depression that suddenly and temporarily lifts in response to positive news or events 
  • Weight gain and increased appetite 
  • Sleeping too much and fatigue 
  • Sensitivity to criticism and rejection

Situational Depression (Reactive Depression/Adjustment Disorder)

This is a type of depression that occurs for a short period. Situational Depression is usually caused by a situation(S), and it’s often stress-related. Most patients experience it after undergoing a traumatic experience or a series of traumatic events. 

Medicallyit’s classified as an adjustment disorder. This is because the condition can make it difficult for you to effectively adjust to your everyday life after undergoing a traumatic event. Because it depends on how you also react to a situation, the disorder might also be referred to an as reactive depression. 

Causes 

  • Some of the traumatic events that can lead to the development of situational disorder include: 
  • Losing a loved one 
  • Professional or academic problems 
  • Changing an environment 
  • Illness 
  • Relationship problems such as divorce and domestic violence 
  • Situational changes such as pregnancy, childbirth, and retirement, among others 
  • Change in a financial state such as loss of a job or being demoted 
  • Crime attacks

It should be noted that these experiences not only need to be recent. In some instances, previous life experiences can also lead to stress later in life. A person is at a higher risk of experiencing situational depression if:

  • Having an existing mental problem. 
  • They experienced considerable stress during their childhood. 
  • They have experienced several difficult circumstances. 

Alternatively, this depression type can occur as a result of biological factors including: 

  • Genetics 
  • Hormonal abnormalities 
  • Abnormalities in brain chemistry and structure 

Symptoms of Situational Depression 

If you know what depression isyou’re probably aware that everyone experiences it differently. So, symptoms of situational depression usually vary from person to person. Its severity can also intensify with the level of stress. Common symptoms include: 

  • Sadness and hopelessness 
  • Constant feeling of anxiety, stress, and worrying 
  • Lack of enjoyment in normal activities 
  • Feeling overwhelmed 
  • Thoughts of suicide or attempts 
  • Avoiding social interactions 
  • Change in sleep patterns 
  • Trouble focusing 

Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (DMDD) 

DMDD is a depressive disorder that mostly affects children or adolescents. It’s normally characterized by frequent and intense anger outbursts, irritability, and bad moods. DMDD symptoms are often severe. 

That’s why kids or youth who suffer from it have problems almost everywhereThey usually have trouble at home, in school, and can’t even get along with their friends. Additionally, they tend to have a lot of health complications.  

Causes

  • Kids possessing medical history of having irritable temperament before the age of 10 
  • Family history of depression, anxiety, or substance abuse 

Symptoms of DMDD

Children affected by DMDD will display the following symptoms: 

  • Severe temper outbursts in the form of behavioral and verbal. On average, this can happen three times weekly. 
  • Trouble functioning effectively due to a constant feeling of irritability.  
  • At least 12 months of ongoing anger outbursts and tantrums  
  • Irritable mood nearly every day and for most of the day 

If parents think that their child has DMDD, it’s only right that they talk to their healthcare provider. This is because symptoms of DMDD can be similar to those of other diseases such as anxiety disorder. 

depression and anxiety

How is Depression Treated?

Once you understand what depression is, then you need to focus on how to treat it. There is no cure for this condition, but you can get depression medication to manage the symptoms.  Most people, around 80% to 90%, usually respond positively to the available treatment options. 

Medical Evaluation

Before you begin your depression treatment, the health professional has to conduct a medical evaluation. The diagnostic process usually involves a physical examination, mental assessment, and interviews. 

 It’s also not unusual for blood test samples to be used. This is because the depression symptoms could be a result of medical conditions such as vitamin deficiency. So, to treat the depression, you will simply need to take vitamin medications. 

Depression Medication 

They are designed to improve brain chemistry. Patients are usually given antidepressant prescription drugs to help modify brain chemistry. Antidepressants are non-habit-forming, and neither are they sedatives.

They are meant to improve the level of brain chemistry during the first couple of weeks. However, the patient might not fully experience their benefits till maybe after 2 to 3 months.  

In case the patient doesn’t experience any positive change after a couple of weeks, the psychiatrist can alter the dose or change the medication. Generally, you are supposed to use antidepressants for six months or a little more. 

Psychotherapy 

This depression treatment alternative is also known as talk therapy. It might use as a standalone treatment. However, it’s mostly use as alongside antidepressants to manage the symptoms of severe depression.

The most used form of talk therapy is cognitive-behavioral therapy. It’s been found to be highly effective in significantly reducing the symptoms of depression. It should be noted that cognitive-behavioral therapy is mainly focused on solving present problems. This could be with negative thinking or bad behavior. 

Psychotherapy can be administered to the patient alone. However, it may also involve other people, such as spouses and family members. Generally, patients start seeing psychotherapy improvements after 10 to 15 sessions. 

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) 

It’s mainly used to treat patients with major depression symptoms. Note that ECT can only be administered if the other two methods have failed. It normally involves a brief electrical stimulation of the brain. 

The patient is usually under anesthesia while ECT is being conducted. For effectiveness, the health professionals will need to administer ECT two to three times weekly. The whole treatment session can range between 6 and 12 weeks. 

ECT is a comprehensive medical process. As a result, it usually involves a team of medical personnel. It composes of a psychiatrist, an anesthesiologist, and a physician assistant. There have been many improvements related to ECT, and it usually yields positive medical results. 

Self-help and Coping 

While all these treatments can help ease the symptoms of depression, the patient should be ready to help themselves. They need to create an environment that creates good feeling and helps to reduce depression symptoms. So, they should exercise frequently, eat healthy meals, socialize, get enough sleep, and void using drugs or alcohol.  

Final Thought

Depression usually affects all aspects of life. There are many types of this disorder. Different factors normally trigger it, and the severity usually varies from person to person. At the moment, there’s no cure for any type of depression. However, some clinical drugs and procedures can be used to manage the symptoms.

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