A common misconception about depression is that it is a single mental illness that impacts everyone in the same way. In reality, there are several different varieties of depression, and the impact can be different from one person to the next. At Palms Behavioral Health in Harlingen, Texas, we help people with depression to better understand their diagnosis and offer personalized care to meet their unique needs.
What are Depression Symptoms
Because every individual is different and each form of depression presents somewhat differently, not all people with depression will manifest the same symptoms or at the same intensity. On the other hand, all forms of depression are serious and should be treated right away to maximize the person’s ability to recover. These are some of the most common indicators that a person could have depression:
- Long periods of sadness
- Inability to feel happiness from things that used to bring the person joy
- Changes in appetite or sleep patterns
- Irritability, negative thoughts, and generally feeling like things won’t get better
- Feeling tired all of the time
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Moving and talking more slowly than usual
Types of Depression
The type of depression a person is experiencing may impact what types of treatment are likely to be most effective, so the clinician needs to determine which specific condition they have. Some of the most common varieties include:
- Major Depression
- Last two weeks or longer
- Results in intense feelings of sadness, hopelessness, worthlessness, etc.
- Often accompanied by suicidal thoughts
- Persistent Depressive Disorder (sometimes called dysthymia)
- Last for two years or longer
- Less severe than major depression, but could have similar symptoms
- May not be accompanied by suicidal ideation
- Often accompanied by low self-esteem
- Bipolar Disorder (also known as manic depressive disorder)
- Involves dramatic, often rapid shifts between intense highs and lows
- Lows often look similar to major depression
- May include challenges with impulse control
What About Situational Depression?
Even though stressful situations, like going through a divorce, a death in the family, or losing your job, is very difficult and may trigger a lot of painful feelings, situational depression is not technically a psychiatric diagnosis. That does not mean that people who are experiencing it are not struggling or that they cannot benefit from therapy.
Who Gets Depression?
Anyone can get depression, but there are certain categories of people who are more likely to be diagnosed:
- Women – women are more often diagnosed with depression, although this may be partially the result of men less frequently recognizing, talking about, and seeking out support for their symptoms and also of men manifesting depression differently than women and therefore being less likely to have their symptoms detected.
- LGBT people – this may be the result of increased shame, fear, discrimination, and trauma experienced by LGBT people.
Numerous factors can contribute, which include:
- Brain chemistry – Some people just have more (or fewer of) certain chemicals in their brains, and this can lead to mental health conditions, including depression.
- Genetics – You’re more likely to get depression if you have a close blood relative with it.
- Personality – People who already have low self-esteem, who get overwhelmed easily, or have a more pessimistic outlook are more likely to develop depression.
- Environment – Someone who is more regularly exposed to painful life experiences like violence, abuse, or poverty is more likely to experience depression.
Because there are other reasons why a person could exhibit signs of depression without having it, people who exhibit symptoms of depression must be seen for a thorough evaluation, including a physical examination and interview. Blood work may be done to rule out medical conditions like thyroid problems and vitamin deficiencies, which can present similarly to depression. The interview may include a discussion of personal and family medical and mental health histories and cultural and environmental factors.
Treatments for Depression
The types of depression listed above can often be successfully treated with a combination of medication and therapy. When these less invasive treatments do not work as hoped, doctors might advise the use of the following techniques to stimulate certain parts of the brain and make it easier for the person’s brain to control their mood as intended:
- Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)
- Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)
- Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS)
Self-Care for Depression
In addition to receiving professional care, people with depression may be advised to make lifestyle changes to optimize their mental health. This could include:
- Following a consistent sleep schedule
- Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet
- Avoiding alcohol and illicit substances that could make them more depressed
- Exercising regularly to improve their brain’s production of natural “feel-good chemicals”
At Palms Behavioral Health, we offer inpatient and outpatient services to help people recover from mental health diagnoses including depression. We have helped adolescents, adults, and seniors regain their quality of life, and we want to help you or your loved ones as well.