Everyone has moments of sadness and despair. From experiencing grief after the loss of a loved one to feeling disappointment when life doesn’t go your way, sadness is a natural response to difficult and upsetting situations. However, like happiness and anger, it is a temporary emotion. Depression, on the other hand, can be more intense and long lasting.
Depression comes in several forms, including major depressive disorder, and goes beyond waves of sadness or grief. It is a long-term mental illness that can interfere with your daily life. It may even be seasonal or triggered by certain life events, like having recently had a baby. No matter the situation, it has a harsh effect on both your physical and emotional health, and it alters the way you think.
If you’ve been feeling down for quite some time, it may feel like a light at the end of the tunnel doesn’t exist. However, our therapists at Dana Group are ready to help with a wide range of therapeutic and psychiatric services, including psychological testing, individual therapy, medication management, and more. No matter your mental health needs, we have more than 50 therapists in Needham, Norwell, and Hanover that will treat you like a unique individual, help you navigate difficult life situations, and offer behavioral health treatments.
It can be difficult to identify when your sadness or feelings of hopelessness require treatment from a mental health professional. Let’s start by deep diving into the symptoms of depression and discussing when you should seek help.
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Depression Signs and Symptoms
While psychological testing can help therapists better understand your brain function, the main way our clinicians screen for depression is by looking out for common symptoms. To be diagnosed, at least five of these symptoms should be present most of the day almost every day for two weeks or more:
- A persistent depressed mood
- A loss of interest in most or all activities
- Major fluctuations in weight and appetite
- Fatigue and insomnia
- Difficulties concentrating and making decisions
- Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
- Recurring thoughts of death and suicide
- Slowed speech and movement
- Restlessness, irritability, and mood swings
- Physical symptoms such headaches, digestive issues, or back pain
While these symptoms may all sound very clinical, everyone’s experience with depression is unique. You may feel very miserable and find yourself crying more than usual or eating more or less than you normally would. You may struggle to get out of bed in the morning and experience difficulties completing everyday tasks. It is common to feel apathetic, low on energy, uninterested in activities you use to love, and isolated from family and friends.
You may find yourself overwhelmed in a spiral of negative thoughts that seem disturbing. These can include thoughts of harming yourself or others and seriously considering suicide. You may feel deep guilt about situations, feel like life never goes your way, or think the world is a dark and sinister place. Even in light of positive situations, you may have difficulty having good thoughts about yourself, your situation, or the people and world around you.
Depression is a very serious condition and can make you feel like a shell of your former self. It is not something you can simply snap out of, and it can be near impossible to change your thinking when experiencing an episode.
If the symptoms in this list paint a picture of the way you’ve been feeling, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment and reach out for help. Dana Group’s doors are open and we want to see you feel well again. If you need help right away, there are several resources that offer around-the-clock support in times of crisis.
7 Common Types of Depression
Depression takes several shapes and forms and has many potential causes. Different types of depression cause unique symptoms that vary in intensity, onset, and longevity. Understanding the subtypes of this condition help you and your therapist better understand the way you’re feeling and come up with a treatment plan that can help you recover and feel like yourself again.
Major Depressive Disorder
Also referred to as clinical depression, major depressive disorder is the most common diagnosis for patients with depression. Certain life events or situations can trigger an episode, but they can also develop on their own without an identifiable cause. Major depressive episodes can last a couple of weeks or months. For people with this disorder, these episodes are often reoccurring — one criterion for diagnosis is that the person has experienced at least two or more episodes with at least a two-month gap.
Persistent Depressive Disorder
This type of depression is longer lasting than MDD, and symptoms may be milder. PDD is also often referred to as chronic depression or dysthymia. Adults diagnosed with this condition have depression symptoms for at least a two-year period or 12 months for children and adolescents.
Also called manic depression, bipolar disorder is characterized by alternating episodes of major depression and mania. Manic episodes can vary in intensity, but they cause you to feel very elated or agitated.
You may find you need less sleep or have racing thoughts. You may experience a burst in productivity, talk more than normal, get easily distracted, have an increased sex drive, and engage in risky or destructive behavior. You may also feel more irritable or hostile and have delusions of grandeur or grandiose thinking.
Some people with major depression may experience periods of psychosis, which cause them to lose touch with reality. This can involve hallucinations, which means sensing things that aren’t there. Or it can cause delusions, which means closely holding onto beliefs or ideas that are clearly irrational and caused by a break from reality.
Seasonal Affective Depression
People with SAD may only experience symptoms of depression during specific seasons in the year. Most often, it happens in the winter when there is less daylight and disruption to the body’s normal circadian rhythm. Mental health professionals often use light therapy to help treat episodes of seasonal depression.
Postpartum depression can affect people who have recently given birth and is thought to be partly caused by hormonal shifts. Some clinicians refer to this condition as perinatal depression which includes depression episodes that occur during pregnancy. In addition to regular depression symptoms, new mothers with PPD may have difficulty bonding with their babies, experience panic attacks, or have thoughts of hurting themselves or their babies.
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
People with PMDD experience symptoms of depression in relation to their menstrual cycle. They may experience common symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, like mood swings, bloating, and appetite changes, but they also experience more intense feelings of depression and sadness that can lead to thoughts of suicide, panic attacks, and extreme sadness or irritability.
If you’ve been feeling down for quite some time and are struggling to cope, seeing a therapist can help you express your thoughts, get to the root of your symptoms, and get treatment. You may not feel your symptoms are severe enough or feel anxious to get help, but it’s important to remember that your feelings are valid and your emotional wellbeing is important. You’re not weak for needing help — no one is immune to depression and there are many effective treatments and therapies that can help you get back on your feet again.
Ready to get started? Contact us today.