What Is Depression?
Depression goes beyond being sad, feeling down or loss of interest—we all feel that way sometimes. Depression is a common term that covers many illnesses, but most typically represents Major Depressive Disorder or Clinical Depression.
The medical definition of depression, according to the American Psychological Association, involves recurrent, severe periods of changes in mood, thought processes and motivation lasting for a minimum of two weeks. Changes in thought processes usually include negative thoughts and hopelessness. Without proper treatment, depressive episodes can last months or years.
6 Surprising Facts About Depression
- Major depression is the #1 cause of disability in the country
- More than 17 million U.S. adults—7% of the population—had at least one major depressive episode in the past year
- Depression affects about one in 15 people
- Women have a higher risk for depression than men; one-third of women will experience a significant episode of depression at some point in their lives
- Nearly one-third of those with major depression have an alcohol problem
- Worldwide, major depression is rated in the same disability category as terminal stage cancer
Types of Depression
- Major Depressive Disorder—The most common type of depression, also called clinical depression, severe depression or major depression, is a mood disorder associated with fatigue, feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness, difficulty concentrating and suicidal thoughts.
- Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD)—Also called dysthymia or chronic depression, this can often be a milder form of depression with similar symptoms to major depression but with episodes lasting at least two years.
- Atypical Depression—People with symptoms of depression, but whose mood can brighten for periods of time
- Postpartum Depression—After childbirth, women can develop depressive symptoms that last up to a year if not treated.
- Bipolar Disorder—Also known as manic depression, this disorder is characterized by severe mood swings from manic highs to the lows of depression.
- Seasonal Depression (SAD)—Typified by depressive symptoms during times of low sunlight, like Winter, but a return to normal feelings when that time is over.
- Psychotic Depression—A subset of major depression that includes some symptoms of psychosis, like hallucinations or delusions.
- Treatment-Resistant Depression—Sometimes, standard treatments for depression may be ineffective with certain people. They may have resistance to medications or may need a combination of treatments. IHC is proud to be one of the few places offering Deep TMS, which is often effective in cases when medication doesn’t help.
Depression Treatment at IHC
At Integrative Healthcare Center, our depression treatment options include:
- Psychotherapy including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, family therapy and interpersonal therapy. Talk therapy can be particularly effective, even with bipolar disorder.
- Medications and prescription management, including antidepressants, mood stabilizers and antipsychotics.
- Exercises that can help with prevention and mild-to-moderate symptoms.
- Brain stimulation therapies if psychotherapy and/or medication are not effective, including the revolutionary Deep TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation). TMS avoids the side effects of medication and is much safer (and completely different) than electroconvulsive therapy.
- Alternative approaches including meditation, biofeedback and nutrition as part of a comprehensive treatment plan.
Medications for Depression
If our psychiatric care providers determine your mental health conditions could be improved with medication, we may prescribe FDA-approved meds for depression, anxiety and other disorders. Our licensed prescribers are experts in prescription management, including:
- Lexapro (escitalopram)
- Wellbutrin (bupropion)
- Zoloft (sertraline)
- Prozac (fluoxetine)
- Celexa (citalopram)
- Cymbalta (duloxetine)
- Effexor (venlafaxine)
- Paxil (paroxetine)
IHC’s licensed psychiatric staff has several ways to determine accurately whether you have depressive disorder. If you can answer “yes,” to the simple questions below, please contact us for a more thorough consultation.
- Do you feel sad, empty, and hopeless most of the day, nearly every day?
- Have you lost interest or pleasure in your hobbies or being with friends and family?
- Are you having trouble sleeping, eating, and functioning?
If you’ve felt any of the above symptoms consistently for at least two weeks, you may have depression. Please know that there is treatment for you. It is possible to feel good again. We can help. Call us or set up an appointment now.
Common symptoms of depression or major depressive disorder (MDD) include:
- Changes in sleep and appetite
- Lack of concentration and interest in activities
- Difficulty remembering details or making decisions
- Loss of energy
- Loss of interest in things
- Hopelessness or guilty thoughts
- Physical aches and pains
- Suicidal thoughts
- Feeling sad or anxious often or all the time
- Feeling irritable‚ easily frustrated‚ or restless
There is no single or certain cause for depression. It may be caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors. It can be triggered by a life crisis, medical illness or something else, or it can develop spontaneously. Factors contributing to depression include:
- Trauma—When people experience trauma, especially at an early age, it can cause long-term changes in how the brains responds to fear and stress.
- Genetic—If someone in your family had a depressive disorder, you are more likely to develop depression.
- Life circumstances—Relationship changes, financial standing and where a person lives can influence whether a person develops depression.
- Biological/chemical changes—Depression is associated with changes in how the pituitary gland and hypothalamus respond to hormone stimulation.
- Other medical conditions—People who have a medical illness, chronic pain, anxiety and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are more likely to develop depression.
- Drug and alcohol misuse—Many people with Substance Use Disorder also develop major depressive episodes. Drugs and alcohol can worsen depressive symptoms. This combination of disorders needs coordinated treatment.
You can’t protect yourself from most depression triggers, life events, your genes, chemicals in your brain, and your environment. But you can find ways to handle stress and improve your outlook on life, such as:
- Taking care of yourself, getting enough sleep, eating well, and exercising regularly.
- Reaching out to family and friends during tough times.
- Getting regular medical checkups and seeing a licensed psychiatric provider if you don’t feel right.
- Seeking help if you think you’re depressed.
If you do have depression, here are some techniques to keep it from getting worse:
- Be consistent with your treatment plan: take prescribed medication and attend scheduled therapy sessions.
- Communicate with your psychiatric healthcare providers to let them know what is and isn’t working for you.
- Avoid alcohol and recreational drugs.
- Try to fight stress with relaxation techniques like meditation and yoga.
- Spend time with family and friends/
- Join a support group or do things that keep you connected to others.
- Keep notes on what makes your symptoms worse and tell your doctor or therapist.
- Avoid big life decisions when you’re feeling down.
- Talk to your psychiatric professionals about medication or other treatments.
Depression and Alcohol/Recreational Drugs
Nearly one-third of people with major depression have a problem with alcohol. While alcohol or drugs may temporarily relieve some of the symptoms of depression, the long-term effects can be increasing disastrous as use continues.
For example, a person may experience financial consequences and relationship/family problems because of substance abuse, leading to further depression. Alcohol and drug use can also make antidepressants less effective. Drinking or taking drugs to deal with depression is a damaging cycle where Substance Use Disorder and depression feed off each other.
If you have issues with alcohol or drugs combined with depression, it is critical to find help that will treat both issues. IHC has expertise in both addiction treatment and depressive disorders. We’re here to help.