About Depression

Depression is a mental illness disorder that affects millions of people each year.  According to studies in 2013, it is estimated that 1 in 10 people over the age of 18 have a form of depression, totaling over 15 million people in the U.S.  Over the course of a person’s lifetime, it is estimated that 17% of the population will experience a major depressive episode.  Put in perspective, that is close to 1 and 5 people will experience a depressive episode during their life.

Forms of Depression

There are three common types of depression, including major depression, persistent depressive disorder (PDD), and bipolar disorder.  The symptoms and effects of these types of depression vary person-to-person and disorder-to-disorder. It is important to understand the difference between the different types of depression in order to appropriately treat the disorder.

Major Depression

Major depression is classified as being sad and unhappy for two weeks or longer and feeling of hopeless, helpless, and worthless.  In addition to an extended period of sadness, a two-week people experiencing depression also have a hard time finding enjoyment in things that once brought them joy and happiness in everyday life.  Differentiating between temporary moments of sadness and depression can be challenging since everyone experiences hard times in life from time to time. Speaking with a medical professional can be helpful for many people to determine whether they are depressed or just sad.

Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD)

Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD) is a form of depression that last for at least 2 years.  In adolescents, one year or longer of depressive symptoms can be diagnosed as Persistent Depressive Disorder.  PDD is less severe than major depression, but the symptoms are very similar, if not the same as major depression.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a form of depression and it is classified as experiencing severe mood swings.   A person with bipolar disorder usually is extremely happy one day and then shows symptoms of depression such as severe sadness.  At this point, there has been no indication of one factor that leads to Bipolar disorder.

Common Depression Symptoms

  • Extended periods of sadness (over 2 weeks)
  • Cannot find happiness in things that once brought one joy, including sex
  • Pessimistic thoughts or feelings of hopelessness
  • Insomnia or excessive sleeping
  • Loss of appetite or over eating
  • Thoughts or attempts of suicide
  • Restlessness or irritability
  • Decreased energy or fatigue

Who does Depression Affect?

Depression can affect people of all ages, genders, and ethnicities.

Numbers collected over a 12-month period in which an individual had a major depressive episode

White – 7.3%
African American – 4.6%
Hispanic – 5.8%
Asian – 4.0%
Native American or Alaska Native – 8.9%

Under 13 – 2.5%
13-18 – 3.3%
18-25 – 8.7%
26-49 – 7.6%
50+ – 5.1%

Male – 5.1%
Female – 8.1% (Women are 70% more likely to have a major depressive episode than men during their lifetime.)

Depression in Women

While there are many similarities among people affected by depression, there are some notable differences between women and men when it comes to depression.  Female specific depression conditions include pregnancy and infertility, premenstrual problems, postpartum depression, and menopause.

To complicate matters, women often experience what is called atypical depression.  This means that instead of eating less, women eat more, and instead sleeping less, women sleep more.

Depression in Men

Men are typically less willing to seek help for depression or admitting to being depressed.  When a man seeks help for depression, it can be seen as a weakness leading them to seek help less than women.  When looking for indications or symptoms of depression in men, it is important to know that not all signs and symptoms are the same as common depression symptoms.  For example, instead of feeling sad for an extended period of time, men often get angry and irritable for an extended duration.  Instead of using friends and food for support, men often turn to TV, alcohol, and sports to self medicate.

Depression in Older Adults and the Elderly

When women and men move into their golden years, there are many changes older adults experience in which many people are not prepared for.  With these changes, it’s not uncommon for a senior to experience a major depressive episode.  Common changes among older adults and seniors that can lead to depression include medical problems, retirement, loss of loved ones and friends, and isolation.   Some of the common signs and symptoms of depression in seniors include; social withdrawal, sadness, fatigue, weight loss or loss of appetite, loss of self worth, sleep problems, and suicidal thoughts or attempts.  Often time’s seniors do not experience severe sadness, but they rather experience anger.

Depression in Teens

During the teenage years, there are a number of changes that teens must cope with and adapt to. These changes can include; puberty, social pressures, and trying to find out who they are and where they fit into society.   When looking into signs of depression in teens and adolescents, it’s important to know they also have a different set of signs and symptoms compared to adults.

While sadness is common among many adults who are depressed, teens are more likely to show anger, aggressiveness, and hostility.  Teens who are depressed sometimes deal with these pressures by using alcohol and drugs, running away, participating in reckless behavior, and sometimes violence.

What Causes Depression?

The causes of depression are not fully understood yet in the medical world, but it’s generally a combination of environmental, biological, genetic, and psychological factors. While there may one event that triggers a depressive episode, there are usually a number of underlying factors that need to be addressed as well.

Major depressive episodes can be caused by situational events such as a loss of a loved one, relationship problems, divorce, loss of a job, financial trouble, personal trauma, social pressures, and other instances that can affect a person’s overall well being.

While depression is usually genetic, it can also happen to those who have no family history of depression.

How to Treat Depression

After being diagnosed with depression, a combination of psychological sessions / treatments and medication is common when treating people for depression. Unlike other illnesses that can be treated with prescribed medication or surgery, changes in choices that led to the depressive episode and therapy are both instrumental in treatment and recovery.

At Rock Prairie Behavioral Health, patients go through a free evaluation and if a form of depression is diagnosed, we then will work with the patient and involved parties to come up with a personalized treatment plan for recovery.