Depression: All You Need to Know

Depression does not discriminate! It can happen to absolutely anybody. Whether young or old, male, or female.

Fighting depression can be hard. Have you ever had to put up a facade that you are ok when indeed you are dying inside of you? Yes, depression does that to a lot of people. The worst thing is that some people cannot tell the difference between sadness and depression. So, you could be battling depression and not even know it. This article shares all there is to know about depression.

What is Depression?


Depression is a mood disorder characterized by persistent sadness, loneliness, and loss of joy. The depressive disorder affects how a person feels, thinks, and behaves. It is distinct from the mood swings that most people experience daily. According to the DSM-5 definition, if an individual experiences depressive symptoms for more than weeks, the person is said to be depressed.

What Are the Contributing Factors to Depression?


Depression can be caused by an intricate interaction of psychological, biological, and social factors. People who have experienced adversity in their lives (such as losing a loved one, unemployment, or traumatic events) are much more likely to develop depression. Depression, in turn, can cause additional dysfunction, worsening both the depression and the affected person’s life.

Depression is distinct from grief or mourning, which are appropriate emotional reactions to traumatic events or the loss of loved ones. When there are clear reasons for a person’s sadness, depression is considered present if the depressed mood lasts a disproportionately long time or is more severe than the precipitating event. 

Depression is not always one pattern. It manifests in various ways for people. Here are some of the common symptoms you may experience:

  • Feeling frustrated, empty, and easily triggered over small matters.

  • Loss of pleasure in your normal activities such as sports, games, books, sex, or even your hobbies.

  • Overwhelming feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or tearfulness.

  • Sleep disturbances, such as excessive sleeping or insomnia (lack of sleep).

  • Lack of energy, such that small tasks take extra effort to perform

  • Feeling like you have nothing to offer.

  • Agitation, anxiety, or restlessness.

  • Anorexia (Loss of appetite and weight loss) or Bulimia (enhanced cravings for food and excessive weight gain.

  • Slowed body movements, thinking, or speaking.

  • Trouble concentrating, remembering things and even making simple decisions.

  • Thinking you’re unworthy of anything good and always reminiscing on past failures.

  • Inflicting injuries on yourself, also known as self-harm.

  • Unexplained back pain, chest tightness, or headaches.

  • Frequent Suicidal thoughts and suicidal attempts.

What Are the Treatment Options for Depression?

Depending on the intensity and structure of the depressive episodes you have over time, your healthcare providers may recommend the following:

1. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

CBT is a behavioral therapy that aims to assist you in understanding your thoughts and behavior, as well as how they affect you. It acknowledges that your past experiences may have shaped you, but it focuses on how you can alter the way you feel, think, and behave. It helps you overcome negative thoughts, such as how to challenge hopeless feelings.

2. Interpersonal Psychotherapy

Interpersonal therapy (IPT) concentrates on your relationships with other people and any problems you may be experiencing in those relationships, such as communication issues or coping with bereavement.

3. Antidepressant Medication

Examples of such medications include tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). They are medications used to treat symptoms of depression. You cannot use them unless they have been prescribed to you by your mental health practitioner.

How is Depression Diagnosed?

Depression can be diagnosed using the following methods:

A. Physical examination: Your attending physician may perform a physical exam and ask you certain questions. This is because depression may be interconnected with an underlying physical health issue.

B. Laboratory Tests: For example, your doctor may perform a full blood count or test your thyroid glands to ensure that it is functioning properly.

C. Psychological Evaluation: Your mental health practitioner will inquire about your symptoms, feelings, thoughts, and patterns of behavior. To help answer these questions, you may be asked to complete a questionnaire. 

D. DSM-5: Using the criteria for depression in the American Psychiatric Association DSM-5, your mental health professional may assess you.

Types of Depression

Depression is a mental health disorder that manifests itself in a variety of forms and has a wide range of symptoms. Your experience with depression may differ from that of another person.


Even if you and your friend are both sad on a regular basis, you may have occasions of extreme energy, whereas your friend is always fatigued.

What is the distinction?

You and your friend are most likely suffering from different types of depression. Gaining a better knowledge of the various types of depression can aid in your diagnosis and recovery process. This will help you take some time to recognize the source of your depression and will assist you when you are ready to speak with a physician and other mental health professionals about your depressive illness.

Here are the 7 most common types of depression:

Persistent Depressive Disorder

Persistent depressive disorder (PDD) also known as Dysthymia, is a long-term form of depression that can interfere with one’s daily life, relationships, school, and work. Even on typically joyous occasions, people with dysthymia often struggle to be happy. They may be perceived as gloomy, pessimistic, or always complaining, when in fact, they are suffering from a chronic mental illness. Dysthymia symptoms can come and go, and the severity of the symptoms can change, but symptoms rarely dissipate for more than two months at once.

  • Feelings of sadness

  • Difficulty staying or falling asleep

  • Lack of interest and pleasure

  • Angry and easily irritable

  • Having low self-esteem

  • Sleeping too much

  • Feelings of hopelessness

  • Fatigue and lack of energy

  • Drastic changes in appetite

  • Trouble concentrating

  • Feelings of guilt


Major Depressive Disorder

Also known as clinical depression. It is a persistent feeling of lack of interest in outside stimuli and sadness. If you have six or more of the following symptoms for two weeks or longer, you may have this type of depression.

  • Inability to focus

  • Feelings of guilt

  • Pessimism

  • Feeling restless or agitated

  • Weight loss or gain

  • Lashing out at loved ones

  • Easily Irritable

  • Withdrawing from loved ones

  • Exhaustion and lethargy

  • Increase in sleeping

  • Morbid, suicidal thoughts

For major depressive disorder, treatment options you can under after you’ve been diagnosed included include antidepressant medications, psychotherapy, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and natural treatments. The treatment plan for each individual will differ depending on their needs.

Bipolar Disorder

Also known as Manic Depression. Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder characterized by episodes of abnormally high mood known as mania.

These episodes can be minor (hypomania) or severe enough to significantly impair a person’s life, necessitate hospitalization, or impair your sense of reality.

When the periods of mania become extreme, it is called hypomania. The overwhelming majority of people with bipolar disorder also have periods of major depression. Some of the symptoms peculiar to the bipolar disorder include:

  • Having wild plans

  • Lots of energy

  • Easily irritable

  • Disorganization

  • Lethargy and insomnia

Can It Be Cured?

There is currently no cure for bipolar disorder, however, it can be successfully managed with a treatment plan that combines medication and psychotherapy.

Postpartum Depression

Most often than not, women experience baby blues after delivery. The baby blues are feelings of sadness and crying that occur after childbirth. The baby blues usually go away after a week or two. This kind of sadness is widely linked to the striking hormonal changes that occur after childbirth. One in every seven women will experience postpartum depression (symptoms that are more severe than the typical baby blues). Women who give birth and experience sadness, anxiety, or worry for several weeks or longer may be suffering from postpartum depression (PPD).

Some of the symptoms experienced include:

  • Feelings of sadness

  • Social withdrawal

  • Trouble bonding with your baby

  • Anxiety and panic attacks

  • Thoughts of hurting your baby or yourself

  • Feeling inadequate or worthless

Seasonal Depression (SAD)

Seasonal depression is a type of depression that occurs as the seasons change. SAD sufferers notice that their symptoms come into play around the same time each year. Many people experience symptoms in the fall and proceed into the winter season, though SAD can occur in the spring or summer. In any of those cases, symptoms of depression, such as fatigue, hopelessness, and loss of pleasure or interest in activities, begin mild and worsen over time.

Some of the symptoms experienced include:

  • Frequent oversleeping

  • Heaviness in arms and legs

  • Relationship problems

  • Experiencing weight gain

Atypical Depression

Do you sometimes exhibit symptoms of depression (such as excessive sleeping, irritability, overeating, or extreme sensitivity to rejection) but when a positive event occurs you find yourself being revitalized?

You may be experiencing what we call atypical depression (also known as a depressive disorder with atypical features). This is because these symptoms do not follow the “typical” presentation of the disorder. Atypical depression is different from the constant feeling of hopelessness or sadness that characterizes major depression. It is like a subtype of major depression.

Atypical depression cannot be “cured” but can be successfully managed with both psychotherapy and medications. The goal for atypical depression is remission, but you should know that depression has a high risk of recurrence, so it is crucial to be aware of any reemerging symptoms.

Psychotic Depression

According to the National Alliance in charge of Mental Illness, approximately 20% of people who suffer from depression develop psychotic symptoms. Early psychosis refers to the period in which a person appears to be losing contact with reality. It involves intense and inappropriate emotions, suspicion of others, social withdrawal, difficulty thinking clearly, a decrease in school or work performance, and a downturn in personal hygiene.

If you’re suffering from both depression and psychosis, you may be diagnosed with major depressive disorder with the following psychotic features:

  • Disorganized Thinking or Behavior

  • Delusions (false beliefs)

  • Hallucinations (false sights or sounds)

Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (DMDD)

DMDD is a relatively new diagnosis. This disorder first appeared in the DSM-5 in 2013.. it is classified as a type of depressive disorder characterized by verbal or behavioral outbursts as a result being frustrated frustration. It also involves chronic, persistent irritability in between outbursts. It is common in children and without them learning how to effectively control their emotions and moods, they are unlikely to grow out of DMDD. If you suspect your child has DMDD, consult a mental health professional to be diagnosed and commence an effective treatment plan.

According to the World Health Organization, approximately 280 million people have depression. If depression is this common according to statistics, why then are people not getting diagnosed?

This could be due to the lack of trained healthcare providers, lack of resources, and the social stigma attached to mental disorders. This could also be due to the fact that People with depression are frequently misdiagnosed and those who do not have the disorder are frequently misdiagnosed and prescribed antidepressants.

Remember, it is critical that you seek medical attention to receive an appropriate depression diagnosis and the necessary treatment and support. One can still live a fulfilled life even with depression. In as much as you adhere to therapy and medications.

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