an image of someone dealing with depressionDepression is one of the most common mental health disorders, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to cope with. 

According to CDC data, 18.5 of adults in the United States experienced symptoms of depression in any two-week period in 2019. Unfortunately, the symptoms of depression often prevent people from getting the help they need.

The good news is, depression is treatable, and you enjoy sound mental health again if you pursue the right line of treatment. 

Today, we’ll be guiding you through how to tell if you’re just feeling down or you may be clinically depressed. We’ll also be highlighting the many effective treatment options at your disposal if life feels like an uphill struggle. 

If you are grappling with this mental health disorder, you’ll see that you don’t need to suffer in silence and that you can kick back even if it doesn’t seem that way right now. 

What is Depression?

The most crucial thing to understand about depression is that it’s an illness and not a sign of weakness., it can affect anybody, and it can strike at any time. 

Classified as a mood disorder, depression is characterized by feelings of deep sadness, hopelessness, and loss that interfere with daily activities. 

A patient with this mood disorder experiences persistently low moods, often to the extent that it becomes tough for them to function. Not only does this inability to carry out daily activities take a toll, but the ongoing feelings of sadness and resultant lack of motivation can impact all areas of your life, with depression affecting you: 

  • Physically
  • Emotionally
  • Mentally
  • Socially
  • Professionally
  • Behaviorally

Now, you should not confuse depression with feeling down. Feeling low is a normal part of life’s ebb and flow. Reacting sadly to upsetting events is normal, too. When these feelings persist, and especially if they are not related to obvious external events, you could be suffering from this problem. 

While depression is common and affects nearly 1 in 10 Americans at some stage, it’s a serious medical condition that often gets worse without the proper treatment. Those who engage in courses of treatment for depression, though, can expect to see symptoms improve in as little as a couple of weeks. 

What symptoms should you be looking out for if you believe that you or a loved one might be experiencing an episode of depression? 

Depression Definition

Depression is also known as major depressive disorder or clinical depression. It is among the most common of all mood disorders. 

The symptoms of depression can be severe, impacting the way you think, feel, and function. 

According to the National Institute on Mental Health, symptoms must be present for at least two weeks for a diagnosis of depression. 

The APA (American Psychiatric Association) adds a qualification to the above definition of depression: symptoms must also trigger an altered level of functioning for a formal depression diagnosis. 

Depression Symptoms

Depression brings about more symptoms than a state of sadness. 

Symptoms of depression can affect your body and your mind. These symptoms could be ongoing, or they may come and go. Every person experiences depression differently. 

Men, women, and children also experience this problem in a slightly different way 

Symptoms of Depression in Men 

  • Mood: Irritability, anger, aggressiveness, restlessness, anxiousness.
  • Behavior: Loss of interest in normal activities, less pleasure in favorite activities, feeling easily tired, suicidal thoughts, using drugs or drinking excessively, taking part in risky activities.
  • Emotional well-being: Feeling sad, empty, or hopeless.
  • Sleep patterns: Insomnia, excessive sleepiness, restless sleep, pain and fatigue from lack of sleep, not sleeping through the night.
  • Cognitive abilities: Difficulty concentrating, difficulty completing tasks, delayed responses in conversations.
  • Sexual interest: Reduced libido, impaired sexual performance.

Symptoms of Depression in Women 

  • Mood: Irritability.
  • Behavior: Loss of interest in normal activities, withdrawing from normal social engagements, suicidal thoughts, thinking more slowly, talking more slowly.
  • Emotional well-being: Feeling sad, empty, hopeless, or anxious.
  • Sleep patterns: Sleeping too much, waking early, difficulty sleeping through the night.
  • Physical well-being: Fatigue, decreased energy, weight changes, appetite changes, headaches, pain, cramps.

Symptoms of Depression in Children 

  • Mood: Irritability, mood swings, anger, crying.
  • Behavior: Getting into trouble at school, worsening grades, avoiding friends and siblings, thoughts of death and suicide.
  • Emotional well-being: Feelings of sadness, despair, crying, incompetence.
  • Sleep patterns: Sleeping too much, sleeping too little.
  • Physical well-being: Loss of energy, changes in appetite, digestive problems, weight gain, weight loss. 

To recap, people tend to experience depression in different ways with various symptoms also varying from person to person. 

Types of Depression

Depression can be categorized as follows: 

  • Bipolar depression
  • Postpartum depression
  • Seasonal depression
  • Major depressive disorder 

Bipolar Depression

Bipolar disorder differs from depression, but those with bipolar experience very low moods that satisfy the criteria of major depression. 

Those suffering from bipolar disorder also suffer from extreme highs in the form of manic or hypomanic episodes. 

Postpartum Depression

Mild symptoms of depression and anxiety that fade within two weeks of delivery are often called the baby blues. 

Full-blown depression, by contrast – either during pregnancy or after delivery – is termed postpartum depression.

The feelings of anxiety, extreme sadness, and exhaustion accompanying postpartum depression can make it challenging for new mothers to take care of themselves and their babies. 

Seasonal Depression

Seasonal depression, commonly known as a seasonal affective disorder, occurs when depressive symptoms present during months with less natural sunlight. Seasonal depression often triggers social withdrawal, weight gain, and increased sleep. 

This form of depression typically lifts during spring and summer. The symptoms usually return in the colder months. 

Major Depressive Disorder

The most severe form of depression, major depressive disorder is characterized by feelings of persistent sadness, worthlessness, and helplessness. 

Without treatment, the symptoms of major depressive disorder seldom go away. 

For a mental health care specialist to diagnose you with this mental illness, you must experience at least 5 of these symptoms in any two-week period: 

  1. Losing interest in normal activities.
  2. Feelings of guilt and worthlessness.
  3. Feeling depressed most of the time.
  4. Problems with concentration.
  5. Feeling fatigued most days.
  6. Weight loss or weight gain.
  7. Slowed thinking and movements.
  8. Disrupted sleep patterns.
  9. Persistent suicidal thoughts.

Am I Depressed?

Feeling down from time to time is normal. 

How can you tell, though, if your feelings of depression are a normal, healthy response to external stressors or clinical depression? 

Well, there is no substitute for a diagnosis from a mental health care professional, and if your feelings of sadness, helplessness, and hopelessness persist for two weeks or more, you should schedule an appointment. 

Depression Quiz

The following quiz can indicate whether you might be suffering from depressive symptoms. The complexity of this mental health disorder means you should not rely on any self-diagnostic tool if you feel you have depression.

1) Are you experiencing feelings of hopelessness, sadness, or emptiness?

2) Do you find it difficult to enjoy previously favored activities?

3) Have you experienced changes to your appetite?

4) Do you lack motivation and energy?

5) Have you noticed a reduction in your sex drive?

6) Do you have problems getting to sleep or staying asleep?

7) Have you had suicidal thoughts?

8) Do you feel guilty for no reason?

9) Have you recently experienced any trauma?

10) Do you find yourself avoiding friends and family? 

Depression Treatment

Your doctor may diagnose depression using the following methods: 

  • Physical examination: Your doctor may conduct a physical exam. He may also ask questions related to your health. Sometimes, this problem is linked to underlying physical health problems.
  • Psychiatric evaluation: Your mental healthcare provider will question you about your thoughts, feelings, and behavior patterns. You’ll sometimes be asked to complete a questionnaire.
  • Lab tests: Your doctor may arrange a complete blood count. Thyroid testing is also commonplace when diagnosing depression.
  • DSM-5 criteria: The latest fifth edition of DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) lists criteria for depression that your doctor may use for diagnostic purposes.

Antidepressants can help to relieve the symptoms of many cases of moderate and severe depression. 

There are many types of antidepressants with slightly different mechanisms of action, but they all perform the function of stabilizing brain chemistry. These are the most common medications in this class:  

  • SNRIs: Antidepressants like Pristiq, Effexor, and Fetzima are classified as serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors.
  • SSRIs: Serotonin reuptake inhibitors are typically the first antidepressants a doctor will prescribe. SSRIs are normally considered safe, and they cause relatively few side effects. Examples include Zoloft, Prozac, and Citalopram.
  • MAOIs: Monoamine oxidase inhibitors like Marplan, Parnate, and Nardil are prescribed if other drugs fail due to the likelihood of experiencing severe side effects and the need to adhere to a strict diet.
  • Tricyclic antidepressants: Examples of tricyclic antidepressants include Tofranil, Pamelor, and Norpramin. While these medications are often effective, this type of antidepressant leads to more severe side effects than more modern alternatives. Tricyclics are no longer normally prescribed unless SSRIs have proven ineffective.
  • Atypical antidepressants: Examples of atypical antidepressants are Wellbutrin SR, Wellbutrin XL, trazodone, and Remeron.

You may need to experiment with more than one type of antidepressant before finding one that relieves your symptoms. 

Antidepressants can be prescribed in isolation, or they can be utilized in combination with psychotherapies. Psychotherapies in isolation can be effective for treating milder cases of depression. 

Here are the most popular forms of psychotherapy used to treat the symptoms of this disorder:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy: Cognitive behavioral therapy, commonly abbreviated to CBT, teaches you to explore the closely interrelated nature of your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and behaviors. Your therapist will help you identify what triggers your depression, and you’ll also discover how to cope better with life’s everyday stressors. CBT focuses on the present rather than probing the past. CBT sessions are weekly for up to 20 weeks.
  • Online cognitive behavioral therapy: If you are unable or unwilling to engage with face-to-face CBT, get the same benefits through virtual counseling. All you need is an internet connection and a computer or smart device.
  • Counseling: Work with a counselor to identify new solutions for the problems you are currently facing in your everyday life.
  • Psychodynamic psychotherapy: A therapist will prompt you to openly speak about what’s troubling you. The aim of this form of psychotherapy is to identify possible meanings in your thoughts or your actions that might be triggering your mental illness.
  • Interpersonal therapy: With interpersonal therapy (IPT), you’ll sharpen your communication skills to help you streamline your interpersonal relationships. Therapists can also guide you through coping with external stressors like bereavement, although this is no substitute for dedicated grief counseling.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorder is when a mental health disorder like depression co-occurs with alcohol use disorder or substance use disorder. Either the mental health disorder or the addiction can develop first. 

Often, people suffering from mental health disorders self-medicate the symptoms with alcohol. While self-medication often provides fleeting relief, both conditions will be inflamed over time. 

Dual diagnosis is becoming increasingly common, too. The most recent data from The National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows that 17 million adults in the United States experienced a co-occurring disorder in 2020. 

According to NAMI (the National Alliance on Mental Illness), integrated intervention is the most effective form of dual diagnosis treatment. 

Each of these conditions impacts the other, so you’ll need a comprehensive treatment plan targeting the symptoms of each condition simultaneously.

All dual diagnosis treatment should be highly personalized, but you can expect the following common elements: 

  • Detox: Before you can engage with dual diagnosis treatment, you’ll need to detox from drink or drugs. This takes up to ten days. In the case of severe substance use disorder (SUD) or alcohol use disorder (AUD), medical detox is often recommended. This allows you to benefit from medications to ease withdrawal symptoms and around-the-clock medical care to safeguard you from complications during detoxification.
  • Inpatient treatment or intensive outpatient treatment: If you have a severe AUD or SUD and a co-occurring mental health condition like depression, inpatient rehab can be beneficial. If residential rehab is impractical or unaffordable, there are more intensive forms of outpatient programs available in the form of IOPs (intensive outpatient programs) and PHPs (partial hospitalization programs). IOPs offer up to 15 hours of weekly therapy in an outpatient setting, while PHPs are full-time outpatient programs offering up to 35 hours of weekly dual diagnosis treatment.
  • Medication-assisted treatment: FDA-approved medications for alcohol use disorder and substance use disorder can be effective. These medications help reduce the intensity of cravings and withdrawal symptoms, minimizing the chances of relapse at this critical early stage of recovery. MAT is always most effective when delivered alongside psychotherapy.
  • Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy- CBT in particular – forms a key component of most effective dual diagnosis treatment plans. You’ll learn how to alter flawed patterns of thinking and implement healthy coping strategies rather than reaching for drink or drugs in response to life’s stressors.

Depression Rehab at The District

If you’re battling depression, it’s important to know that: 

  • You’re not alone.
  • Depression is treatable.
  • We offer many different therapies at TDRC.
  • We can prescribe medication for your depression if needed.
  • You can receive a completely personalized depression treatment program at The District Recovery Community.

Find healing and hope here at The District. Our individualized depression treatment program can help you find the pathways to inner healing. 

You will meet our professionally trained therapists during the admission process. They will help you face your problems so you don’t have to walk this path alone. No matter what substance you’re dealing with, and no matter how deep your depression is, our evidence-based programs are highly effective. 

Some of the programs you can choose from are as follows: 

  • IOP (intensive outpatient program)
  • PHP (partial hospitalization program)
  • Outpatient program
  • Dual diagnosis treatment

Seek treatment for depression at a quality addiction treatment center by calling us today at 844-287-8506. We’ll help you find inner serenity and the path that leads to happiness.