Everyone knows what it’s like to feel sad, unhappy or lack in self-confidence and self-esteem sometimes. These feelings are usually are the result of some event or loss and they tend to pass. For others, however, these feeling of sadness, loss, anger, and frustration never go away and worsen with every negative events, creating a large impact on daily life.
A person may sleep all the time or feel agitated and restless. Everything may seem hopeless and they feel unable to make things better. They may feel lack of motivation and so fatigued they lose the ability to do even the simplest of tasks. Their job and relationships suffer. No area of their life is left unscathed.
Even though the depression comes and goes, the periods of time when it remits are little better. Due to the overlap of depression and anxiety, when the depression abates, anxiety often comes to the forefront, as a man or woman worries over the consequences of depression. As the anxiety is less severe than the depression, anxiety symptoms often push the person to act to decrease the anxiety.
While depression is debilitating, the anxiety during the periods without depression are enough to keep the person going until the next cycle of depression. Therefore many people become use to this pattern and fail to seek help. With the appropriate treatment, those who have battled with major depressive disorder or persistent depressive disorder can defeat their upsetting symptoms and develop happy, healthy lives.
For adults in the U.S. the 12 month prevalence rate for this disorder is 6.7%. Of these cases 30.4% (2% of the adult population) are severe. The gender difference is significant: women are 70% more likely to suffer from depression than men.
Age differences are also notable. Those 60 years and older have the lowest rate of depression, while 18-29 year olds are at a 70% greater risk to develop depression. 30-34 year olds are at 120% greater risk, while 45-59 year olds are at 100% greater risk for developing depression.
It is not unusual to find depression co-occurring with a number of different disorders. The most frequently co-occurring conditions include:
- Panic disorder
- Social anxiety
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Borderline personality disorder
- Substance addiction
- Anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa
- Heart disease
While there are some causes associated with depression, it’s recognized that there is no individual cause that explains all cases of depression. It’s more likely that multiple factors interact to result in depression, and the specific factors differ person to person.
Genetic: Depression tends to run in families. While not a definitive indicator, having a relative who struggles with depression may increase the likelihood that an individual will develop depression.
Environmental: When individuals experience numerous stressors, they may come to believe they have no control over negative events in their lives. This can lead to a state of learned helplessness in which individuals accept that nothing will make things better in the future. They give up trying and stop making attempts to control anything in their lives. This can lead to depression. It has been shown that for some individuals the development of depression appears to be linked to low levels of folate and B-12.
Brain Structure: Brain imaging studies have shown that certain structures in the brain appear different than structures in individuals without depression. Specifically, certain areas of the brain that are associated with sleeping, thinking, mood states, appetite, and behavioral inhibition do not seem to function in the same way as they do in those without depression.
There are a number of different types of symptoms of depression. The widespread variety of these symptoms helps explain why the effects of the illness can be so devastating.
- Depressed mood almost all the time for at least two weeks
- Inability to experience pleasure in almost all activities in an individual’s life
- Feeling insignificant or useless
- Feeling empty inside
- Being pessimistic about the future
- Feeling helpless regarding the ability to alter a negative future
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
- Social withdrawal, disengagement, estrangement or social rejection from close friends and family
- Difficulty experiencing empathy for what others are going through
- Loss of important relationships
- Loss of motivation to keep in touch with others
- Increase or decrease in weight without trying (5% loss or gain of body weight)
- Trouble sleeping or getting too much sleep
- Motoric agitation or retardation
- Physical aches and pains including headaches, cramps, or gastrointestinal problems that are not relieved by treatment
- Lack of interest in sex or sexual dysfunction
- Decreased speech production or answering question with monosyllables
- Difficulty remembering details and other memory problems
- Inability to concentrate or remain fully aware and in the moment
- Trouble with decision making and solving even minor problems such that the person may become dependent on others for these functions
- Excessive or inappropriate self-blame for anything that goes wrong in the individuals life as well as the lives of others associated with the individuals
Given the variety of symptoms, the effects of depression on an individual’s life can vary widely. Some of the more frequent effects include:
- Increase in risky behavior that can lead to harm
- Loss of important relationships
- Lack of an adequate social support network
- Difficulties at work or school
- Missed school or work days
- Lack of productivity and large number of sick days taken leads to unemployment
- Inability to find a job or lack of motivation to even try to find work
- Depressed Immune system leading to physical disorders and conditions
- Poor hygiene
- Suicidal thoughts or actions
- Stomach pain, nausea and other GI problems
- Refusal to be touched intimately by spouses or partners
- Body image problems
- Increased need for health care
While the symptoms and effects of depression you are experiencing may have led to significant distress and the inability to function in many areas of your life, do not lose hope. Depression is a treatable disease and the compassionate and supportive staff at Acadiana are here to help and just a phone call away.