Determining Depression

At least 16 million people in the US suffered at least one episode of depression in the year 2012, and this represented about 7% of the total population at that time. The prevalence of depression in America is thought to be much greater than that however, since many cases go undiagnosed and unreported.

There are several different kinds of depression, all of them being more serious than the temporary sadness you might feel from some minor disappointment or setback in your daily life.

Difference between depression vs having a rough day?

There’s a big difference between having a bad day at work or a bad week, versus full-blown depressive disorder, which is a much more serious manifestation of depression. There are specific things to look for when you’re trying to determine whether or not you or someone you know has depressive disorder.

One of the most obvious signs is a persistent feeling that you can’t shake, which affects the way you feel about everything in your life. This is most often characterized by feelings of self-loathing and worthlessness, or inappropriate guilt about things you have no control over. All combined, this can cause you to have a totally hopeless outlook on life, with no redeeming factors to counterbalance it all.

What are the signs of depression?

Some of the most obvious symptoms to look for in a depressed person are irritability and constant fatigue. Very often a person who is experiencing depressive disorder finds it difficult to get a good night’s sleep, and may even be suffering from insomnia. This in turn translates into a kind of apathy, because the person lacks energy, and is always seeking more rest or sleep.

In some cases, males exhibit symptoms like misdirected anger, substance abuse, or inappropriate behavior, sometimes coupled with uncontrollable emotions. Some depressed people experience rapid weight gain or rapid weight loss, so neither one can be a definitive indicator, but the fact that the increase or decrease occurs over an unexpectedly brief period of time can be an indication of depression.

How early do the signs show up?

Signs of depression can show up early in a person’s life, sometimes even in the early teens. In such situations, it’s important that your teen has a discussion with the family doctor, so that a physical exam can be performed to see if depression symptoms might be attributable to physical causes.

A family history of depression is a red flag that will alert your primary care doctor to the fact that other family members may be subject to similar bouts of depression. Since there is no test for depression, symptoms should be looked for closely among family members where there is a history of depression, mental illness or drug and alcohol abuse.

Difference between situational depression vs chemical imbalance

Chemical depression occurs when people have a higher concentration of cortisol or noradrenaline in their bodies, and since these are stress hormones, the mind and body reacts to them in the form of anger, anxiety, or hopelessness. In a kind of vicious cycle, the way you respond to situations affects the emotions you feel, thereby influencing the chemicals released – but then those stress hormone chemicals affect the way we think and feel as well.

Situational depression by contrast, is a mood which affects people only for a period of time, and usually in the aftermath of some traumatic event like a divorce, a breakup, or death of a loved one. Once a person adapts to the changes caused by the major event, depressive symptoms usually fade away.

How long does depression episode last

The duration of an episode of depression generally depends on how long depression goes untreated. If it is not diagnosed or treated, depression can become very dangerous, and even cause someone to have suicidal thoughts. Depression can persist for a very long time if not treated through counseling, medications like anti-depressants, and sometimes even changes to diet and lifestyle.

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