Everyone experiences sadness or dark and negative thoughts at some point in their lives. Normally, those feelings are temporary and may come and go. But when those feelings become oppressive and persistent, making it difficult to alter your outlook or move on to more positive aspects of your life, you may have a type of depression that requires professional help.
How Common Is Depression?
Many people are unaware of how to know when their sad or negative feelings are signs of depression. According to Boston University, depression is so prevalent that it impacts one out of every three adults, not including the 20 percent of adolescents who also experience depression. Though it’s common for them to look for other outlets to help them process their thoughts, not all solutions are beneficial. People with depression may even resort to self-destructive behaviors or substance abuse and recreational drugs to make themselves feel better, which can make them feel much worse or, in some cases, destructive and suicidal.
What Types of Depression Are Most Commonly Diagnosed?
Seeing a mental health specialist for a diagnosis and treatment is critical to overcoming depression. However, many people avoid depression treatment due to stigmas, misconceptions, and personal misgivings about mental health.
There are several types of depression, and their symptoms vary per individual.
Bipolar mood disorders or BD – Bipolar mood disorders (BD) include types I and II. They often cause extreme highs and lows, also known as mania and depression. Many people experiencing depression symptoms are bipolar. It’s estimated that 60 percent of those diagnosed with bipolar disorder have genetic risk factors for depression or BD.
Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder, also referred to as (DMDD) – Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (DMDD) affects children more than adults. The condition is typically progressive—many children with DMDD experience chronic or persistent irritability, temper tantrums, and anger. They are at risk of developing anxiety or clinical depression without early intervention and proper treatment.
Cyclothymic disorder – Cyclothymic disorder causes symptoms similar to BD, but much milder.
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder or PMDD – Premenstrual dysphoric disorder causes mild to severe depression symptoms that occur just before the start of the menstruation cycle and gradually dissipate shortly after it ends.
Persistent depressive or dysthymia disorder – Persistent depressive or dysthymia disorder is a form of depression that is often chronic. Though not quite as severe as BD and DMDD, the condition is disruptive enough to impair daily functions and quality of life.
What Are the Symptoms of Depression?
Depression and other mood disorders tend to run in families. Depression can also cause physical symptoms, such as pain, weight gain, weight loss, and other adverse effects that intensify sad, dark, or depressive thoughts and feelings. Many individuals first learn they have depression at the doctor’s office after undergoing medical testing to rule out potential medical disorders that trigger depression-like symptoms.
According to the DSM-5 Clinical guidelines, depression is present when at least 5 of the following symptoms are present for two weeks. A least one of the symptoms is depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure.
- Feeling sad or having a depressed mood
- Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
- Appetite changes that may cause weight fluctuations
- Abnormal sleeping habits, such as sleeping too much or too little
- Lower or increased energy levels
- Slurred or slow speech
- Fidgeting or restlessness, an inability to sit still
- Feeling shame, worthlessness, or guilt
- Difficulty thinking, concentrating, or making decisions
- Suicidal thoughts, including attempts
- Persistent or recurring depressed or low moods
- Difficulty making decisions
- Trouble concentrating
Depression is a common comorbidity in patients with chronic, autoimmune, and severe medical ailments. Depression doesn’t just affect your mood; it can also cause physical symptoms, such as the following:
- Joint, limb, or body pain
- Fatigue and low energy levels
- Stomach pain
Many depression symptoms are experienced by individuals with other common mood disorders or medical issues that cause persistent pain or feelings of unwellness.
How Is Depression Diagnosed?
When undergoing evaluation for diagnosing depression, patients are asked a series of questions that clinical professionals use to evaluate and determine their mood and mental state. In order to confirm a depression diagnosis, patients must experience at least five of the above symptoms that indicate a severe decrease in quality of life due to lack of interest, loss of enjoyment, or depressing thoughts for a set amount of time.
When discussing your symptoms with a Los Angeles online therapist, be open and forthcoming about how you feel and the symptoms you’ve experienced. Don’t make assumptions about what to say or omit. Just say what comes to mind, no filters necessary. On the other hand, depression can make expressing yourself and thinking difficult. If you’re having trouble communicating your feelings to a licensed therapist, let them know. These concerns are essential to help your therapist arrive at the proper diagnosis and treatment path for you.
See a C.U.B.E Therapist for Help With Depression
The most critical factor in achieving a proper diagnosis is you. It’s okay to feel sad or down in response to certain situations or life events. It can be easy to give in to feelings of shame, guilt, and irritability about your circumstances. It’s important for you to keep in mind that your symptoms have an enormous impact on those feelings, your health, and your life. Don’t let them become a barrier to getting the help you need and can benefit from. You deserve to have a life unburdened by depression.
Antidepressants and other medications are not always practical, though they are standard treatment protocols for depression and other mood disorders. Many people living with depression find that their symptoms are less noticeable and more manageable with antidepressants, medications, behavioral therapy, and psychotherapy.
Depression is not always easy to spot in those affected. It’s also not a condition that is diagnosed via medical tests or blood work. But there are medical conditions, medicines, and recreational behaviors that can cause similar symptoms.
If you or someone you love seems to be experiencing the signs of depression, contact The C.U.B.E. for depression help to get started on the path to happiness, acceptance, and a better outlook on life.