In any given year, depending on demographics, about 5-12 percent of the population will experience an episode of major depression, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
Depression, as described as a major depressive episode, can be an overwhelming experience. Over a life span, around 20 percent of the population will experience a mood disorder (depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, etc.). This means that many people you know are living with depression, and possibly in silence.
What causes depression?
With so many people affected, it poses the question, "Where does all of this come from?" It’s a question psychologists have been asking for decades. While we have some idea of the answer, it is more complex than straightforward and the answer looks different for each person suffering from depression.
Different Types of Depression
First of all, let’s define our terms here. When we say depression, this can mean a few different things. Did you know that under the classification of Major Depressive Disorder (the hallmark depression diagnosis), there are 14 different codes (sort of more specific diagnoses) that therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists can use? These look at different aspects of depression such as its tendency to cycle (or ...
Imagine that you are sitting in a sailboat. Looking out at the water, you envision where you want to go. You set the rudder, lift the anchor, put up the sails and away you go. If the wind is strong, you can move quickly to your destination. Perhaps the wind picks up and up and you're suddenly feeling less like a sailor and more like a pilot. The wind is carrying you faster and faster and this has become an incredibly fun thrill ride! You look down at the water and enjoy watching the waves go by as you speedily fly atop the waves, nothing holding you back. However, the wind eventually dies down. After some time, it crawls to a stop and you are stuck.
With no wind in your sails, you float in the ocean all alone. You feel isolated. You look at your boat and realize that that high speed thrill ride you were on a short while ago left your hull damaged, chunks of wood flown off, and you neglected basic maintenance for some time. Perhaps you try blowing into the sails, but nothing can get your boat going again.
Eventually, the winds pick up and once again you're flying. But soon they die and again you're stuck. This process goes on and on for some time. It wears on you, and you never get where you wanted to go in the first place. Ultimately, you are at the whims of the wi...
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, depression effects on women may include the following:
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
- Fatigue and decreased energy
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness
- Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
- Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
- Irritability, restlessness
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
- Overeating or appetite loss
- Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
- Persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" feelings
- Thoughts of suicide, or suicide attempts
Depression carries a high risk of suicide. Anybody who expresses suicidal thoughts or intentions should be taken very, very seriously. Do not hesitate to call your local suicide hotline immediately. Call 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) or 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255), or the deaf hotline at 1-800-799-4TTY (1-800-799-4889).
Warning signs of suicide with depression include:
- A sudden switch from being very sad to being very calm or appearing...
We all experience periods of sadness from time to time but clinical depression is not just a passing mood – it is falling into a funk that refuses to go away. In this case, is coping with depression even possible?
Symptoms of Depression
Depressed people report having feelings of despair, helplessness, and hopelessness, and their depression tends to worsen when they attempt to shake it off. Their self-esteem suffers and their view of themselves is extremely negative. They lose interest in things and the world around them. What they once counted as pleasurable (i.e., sports, hobbies, taking walks, etc.) is no longer is enjoyed. They experience a loss of hope for anything to change for the better.
Physical symptoms (i.e., changes in appetite, sleep, energy levels) are associated with becoming listless, lethargic, and apathetic. People with severe depression are often plagued by death wishes, suicidal thoughts, and/or psychotic symptoms (i.e. paranoid or grandiose delusions and/or visual/auditory hallucinations.) Also, other adverse physiological effects are common (i.e. psychomotor agitation and constipation) and other various health issues. Needless to say, depressed people have great difficulty functioning at home, work, school, and/or church.
Part 2 of a Depression Biopsychosocial-Spiritual Perspective Series
In my previous article, I took a look at the big “D” – depression, as it affects and is treated by means of biological and psychological mechanisms. In this article, I consider two more realms that are often overlooked when considering a person’s makeup.
Depression Involves More than Just You
Classically, psychology has been seen as the study of the individual, with a focus on the mind. As technology advanced, the biological processes were also included. However, it does us all a disservice to neglect the fact that no human being exists in a bubble of isolation. We all have people in our lives with whom we interact, or could interact.
Furthermore, as a Christian, I believe that we also tend towards a spiritual connection with our Creator. Even in the secular world, the ever-growing identification of “spiritual but not religious” indicates an innate connection to something beyond oneself. Therefore, the all-consuming nature of Major Depression will inevitably also affect the social and spiritual aspects of human beings...
Part 1 of a Depression Biopsychosocial-Spiritual Perspective Series
Depression is a word that gets thrown around a lot these days. Anytime from your favorite team’s crushing defeat in a national championship, to the loss of a loved one, to a period in which you just cannot seem to get going at all – you might be feeling depressed. Clinicians understand Depression, or Major Depressive Disorder, as a mental illness characterized by hallmark symptoms such as a prolonged sad mood and/or a lack of interest and pleasure. However, did you know that abnormal weight change, disrupted sleep (either too much or too little), and a lack of ability to concentrate can also be symptoms? However, my purpose in this article is not to define depression from a medical standpoint, but to illustrate how depression can affect you in a variety of ways.
A Biopsychosocial-Spiritual Perspective on Depression
As human beings, we can address our lives from multiple perspectives. A jargony word that gets thrown around in the mental health field is the “biopsychosocial” perspective, with Christian and other counselors adding “spiritual” to the end of it. This biopsychosocial-spiritual perspective implies that each and every person has internal biological occurrences, ps...
What Do the Holidays Mean to You?
When the Christmas music starts, the decorations in stores begin to change, how do you feel? A lot of people get excited, anticipating the holiday season and love this time of year! But for others who have been through difficulties in the previous year, the holiday season can bring on undue anxiety, stress, depression, and thoughts of hopelessness and loneliness. There is a reason counselors see an increase in clientele during the holiday season, as unfortunately, it can bring up many things for individuals. Some people may have relatives who were close to them, who passed away this time of year, which makes it especially hard to celebrate the joy that this season can bring. It can also be a time of reflection over the past year, which can bring up anxiety and sadness for those who felt that their year was a tough one.
What do you do to handle your holiday stress? Do you keep it inside and not let anyone know how you are feeling? Often this is what we tend to do, as talking about difficult topics is not something that comes naturally to anyone. Something that can be helpful this time of year when you are experiencing this sadness and loss, is to talk about it more and seek out help if necessary. We are not mea...