It’s common for people to feel sad or down for short periods, but depression is much more severe than feeling sad for a few days. Depression is a common mood disorder that affects millions of adolescents and adults throughout the United States. It can cause serious disruption to a person’s ability to carry out daily responsibilities and functions.
Cases of depression are on the rise according to data from the Substance Use and Mental Health Services Administration. 15.7% of adolescents ages 12 to 17 reported going through a major depressive episode (MDE) in 2019. 11.1% experienced depression that caused severe impairment. Rates for adults are slightly lower but still alarming, with 7.8% reporting at least one MDE in 2019. 5.3% were severely impaired by their depression.
Despite the difficulties that depression causes, treatment is a helpful way to manage and relieve symptoms. But understanding those symptoms is the first step toward finding help. How can you determine whether you or a loved one has depression?
What is Depression?
Depression is a mood disorder that affects how people think, feel, and function in daily life. The condition can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, race, income, or education level. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, a combination of biological, genetic, and environmental factors determine whether someone develops depression.
Types of Depression
There are different types of depression generally classified by the severity of a person’s symptoms and how often those symptoms occur.
Major depression is the most common type of depression. Symptoms of major depression affect a person’s ability to work or go to school, sleep, eat, and enjoy the various parts of daily life. People diagnosed with major depression must experience symptoms for a minimum of two weeks and interfere with daily functioning.
Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dysthymia)
Persistent depressive disorder, also called dysthymia, occurs when a person experiences symptoms of depression that are less severe but last much longer. People diagnosed with persistent depressive disorder have symptoms that persist for at least 2 years.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Seasonal affective disorder occurs when an individual experiences depressive symptoms during a certain part of the year. People most often experience seasonal affective disorder in the winter months because of the fewer hours of natural sunlight. Some people experience it in reverse and notice symptoms during the summer months, but this is less common.
Depression with Psychotic Features
Depression with psychotic features refers to individuals who have severe depression coupled with some form of psychosis. These psychotic episodes include delusions (disturbing false beliefs) or hallucinations (hearing, seeing, feeling, etc. things that aren’t there).
Bipolar disorder is not a form of depression itself but the condition is characterized by periods of depression and periods of mania. Individuals with bipolar disorder experience episodes of low mood that meet the criteria for depression (depressive episodes). These are punctuated by manic episodes that consist of high energy levels and extreme euphoria.
Symptoms of Depression
The following signs and symptoms of depression may indicate that you or a loved one should seek help:
- Ongoing feelings of sadness, anxiety, or “emptiness”
- Feeling hopeless or pessimistic
- Feeling guilty, worthless, or helpless
- Irritable, frustrated, or quick to anger
- Loss of energy
- Talking or moving slowly
- Having trouble sitting still
- Difficulties concentrating or focusing
- Troubles with memory or decision-making
- Changes in weight or appetite
- Problems with sleeping, such as insomnia or oversleeping
- Aches or pains with no other physical or medical explanation
- Thoughts of self-harm, death, or suicidal ideation
- Suicide attempts
Signs of Depression Vary with Age
Symptoms of depression are similar across all ages but age does affect the way depression displays itself. Signs of depression tend to differ depending on age because of the differences in major life activities and responsibilities between adolescents and adults.
For example, SAMHSA’s data qualifies adolescents with severe impairment when their MDE affects their ability to complete their chores, attend or perform well in school, participate in an active social life, or get along with their family members.
Qualifications for adults are slightly different, though. Adults are classified as having severe impairment when their depression keeps them from completing tasks at work, managing their home, building relationships with others, or maintaining a social life.
Additionally, older adults show signs of depression in still other ways. These individuals often experience depression following extreme sadness or grief. They tend to report feeling an overall lack of emotions rather than feeling sad or down. Older adults also experience more medical-related depression and have greater difficulties with thinking and memory.
Helping a Loved One with Depression
It’s difficult to know how to help a loved one with depression. It often feels like there’s little or nothing you can do to make a difference. There are some ways to help your loved one, though, including:
- Encouraging them to see a mental health professional
- Helping them find a mental health professional
- Offering support and encouragement
- Listening without interrupting or offering advice
- Inviting them to go places with you, such as outings or walks
- Encouraging them to stick to their treatment plan
- Providing transportation to therapy appointments or other engagements
- Reminding them that the feelings aren’t permanent, and the depression isn’t forever
How to Treat Depression
Thankfully, there are options available to treat depression. Effective depression treatment typically consists of medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of both. Those with more mild cases of depression may be able to manage their symptoms with psychotherapy alone. Individuals with more severe depression likely need a combination of these approaches.
Psychotherapy, also called talk therapy, teaches people to think in new ways to encourage behavioral changes. Therapy usually occurs in one-on-one sessions with a licensed counselor or therapist. Two common therapeutic approaches for depression include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy (IPT), among many other modalities.
Antidepressant medications are a common part of treatment plans for depression. They should never be used alone or without the direction of a licensed psychiatrist. These medications do not cure depression, nor do they provide instant relief. The effects of antidepressants take about 4 to 8 weeks to work. After the effects set in, though, they can offer relief from symptoms of depression which allows therapeutic methods to be more effective.
Finding Help at Pasadena Villa
Pasadena Villa provides a range of treatment services for adults living with cognitive, emotional, and social disorders. We help individuals learn to manage and overcome a variety of conditions from depression and anxiety to bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Our healing processes are based around our Social Integration Methodology, an approach dedicated to preparing people for their life outside of the treatment environment.
Pasadena Villa provides a continuum of treatment services for our clients beginning with residential, moving into transitional care, and finally ending with ongoing support upon program completion. We’re dedicated to providing compassionate, effective treatment that equips our residents for success after treatment.
To learn more about the programs available at Pasadena Villa, reach out to us today. You can call us directly or fill out a contact request form and one of our admissions counselors will reach out to you via your preferred method of contact. You should never have to deal with your struggles alone – Pasadena Villa is here to help every step of the way.