Life is full of hardships and adversity, and we all experience momentary periods of stress, sorrow and anxiety from time to time. These emotional difficulties are perfectly normal and tend to pass within a matter of days. However, if you’ve ever found yourself feeling down for weeks on end, you may be suffering from depression (also known as major depressive disorder). Depression is an extremely common and serious mental health condition that affects millions of people across the world. In fact, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), more than 15 millions adults in the US alone grapple with major depressive disorder in a given year. That’s approximately 6.7 percent of our country’s population.
The symptoms of depression (including fatigue, sleeping issues, feelings of sadness and worthlessness, loss of appetite and thinking difficulties) can make it incredibly challenging for afflicted individuals to carry on with their daily lives and maintain strong connections with friends and family. Worst of all, the most severe cases of depression can lead to thoughts of self-harm and suicide, putting the lives of those who suffer from this mental health disorder at great risk. Consequently, it’s imperative that people with major depressive disorder seek professional aid from a qualified psychiatrist to manage their symptoms as soon as possible.
Regrettably, it can be difficult to determine whether you have major depressive disorder without the help of a mental health expert. This causes many victims of depression to forgo therapy under the false belief that their mental illness is nothing more than a temporary spell of negative feelings. At Family Psychiatry and Therapy, we are fully committed to providing you and your loved ones with all of the knowledge and counsel you need to understand and overcome depression and anxiety disorders. Today, we’ll be helping you to confirm whether you have depression by discussing key signs to look out for. But first, let’s take a few moments to review the causes of depression.
What Causes Depression?
Depression is caused by a combination of genetic, environmental and psychological factors. Leading experts have confirmed that many people who develop depression have a history of an anxiety disorder earlier in life.
Furthermore, substance abuse, certain medical conditions, shifts in hormonal activity and traumatic physical or emotional abuse can all play a role in increasing an individual’s likelihood of experiencing depression. Of course, all of these potential causes make it difficult to identify the exact source of your mental illness. However, with the help of an experienced psychiatrist, you can identify the exact cause of your depression.
How to Recognize Depression
Now that you have a basic understanding of the factors that cause depression, we can look at the telltale signs of this harrowing mental illness. According to Mayo Clinic, the primary symptoms of clinical depression include:
- Depressed mood. This symptom includes feelings of persistent sadness, anxiousness, emptiness or despair. You may also experience persistent feelings of hopelessness, helplessness and pessimism.
- Reduced interest. You may be experiencing depression if you are losing enthusiasm for activities you used to enjoy, including hobbies and spending time with family and friends. This reduction in enthusiasm may affect your ability to enjoy intimacy with a partner as well.
- Significant changes in weight. If you suffer from depression, you may lose weight when not dieting as a result of a marked decrease in appetite. You may also experience weight gain due to an increase in appetite and decrease in overall physical activity. Both are strong indications of depression.
- Sleep irregularities. Depression may cause you to develop insomnia, a sleep condition that makes it incredibly difficult to rest at night. It could also increase your desire to rest, inhibiting your ability to stay productive throughout the day.
- Noticeable restlessness or slowed behavior. These symptoms are usually the result of any sleep irregularities you are experiencing.
- Fatigue or loss of energy. If you often feel incapable of completing daily chores and activities, your depression may be affecting your energy levels. This symptom is usually paired with powerful urges to rest throughout the day.
- Feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt. If you experience constant feelings of worthlessness or a compulsion to blame yourself for unfortunate events or outcomes that are beyond your control, then you may suffer from depression.
- Recurring thoughts of death or suicide. This is the most severe symptom of depression. If you feel the desire to harm yourself or other people, you should seek immediate professional help as soon as possible.
If you have consistently experienced at least one of these symptoms for more than two weeks, then you may very well suffer from major depressive disorder. However, there are a number of other physical and mental health conditions that cause similar symptoms. Ultimately, it’s impossible to diagnose your depression without the assistance of a mental health specialist. These experts can work with you to determine the exact nature of your troubling symptoms and set you on the road towards a behavioral health solution, allowing you to face your condition with confidence and take back control of your life.
If you fear that you suffer from major depressive disorder, the first step to getting appropriate treatment is to arrange a visit with a doctor or mental health specialist. Your clinician can perform physical exams, interviews and other tests to identify any medical conditions or illnesses that may be causing your distressing symptoms. If no medical condition is found, the next step will be seeking out the aid of a high-quality mental healthcare team for a physiological evaluation. Through medication (including antidepressants), psychotherapy or a combination of both, your psychiatrist will help you to create an effective approach to treating your depression and reducing the chances of it coming back.
Contact Family Psychiatry and Therapy
If you’re interested in learning more about our exceptional mental health services or want additional information on diagnosing depression in adults, then be sure to call or message Family Psychiatry and Therapy today! We also encourage you to make use of our Depression Assessment tool. Simply complete this form and fax it to us (201-977-2890) for a free assessment. We’ll provide you with all of the strategies and support you need to overcome your depression and achieve a happier, healthier life.