No matter who you are, every single person experiences sadness or bouts with what they consider to be depression at some point. It could happen after a big life-altering event, such as the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, or the end of a relationship. While feeling down over these events is human nature, it’s important to be aware of signs that what you’re experiencing goes beyond grief. What, exactly, is depression? Is there anything else that could be affecting your mood?
What is depression?
Depression is a mood disorder that affects how you feel, your thoughts, and your behavior. It can range from mild to severe, and it can decrease a person’s ability to function as their usual self at home and at work. Even under the term depression, there are several modalities, such as:
- Anxiety disorder
- Major depressive disorder
- Postpartum depression
- Situational depression
- Persistent depressive disorder
- Psychotic depression
- Bipolar disorder
It can affect people from all walks of life, family background, or ages. And, while there’s a stigma still attached to mental health issues, depression is one of the most common mental health disorders in the United States, affecting an estimated 17.3 million adults in the country.
There are many factors that could contribute to a person’s depression. These include family history, environmental triggers, chemical imbalances in the brain, experiencing a traumatic event, financial worries, a major illness — in you or a loved one — certain medication, or alcohol abuse.
While symptoms of depression can vary from one person to the next, generally speaking, there are certain common denominators:
- Feeling angry, sad, or hopeless
- Loss of interest in what were once favorite activities
- Decreased energy
- Withdrawing from social engagements
- Feeling guilty or worthless
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sleeping difficulties
- Loss of appetite
- Thoughts of suicide
When to See a Doctor for Depression
If you feel like you’re depressed because of a major life event, that’s understandable. Crisis counseling may help you deal with the trauma. However, if the feelings of hopelessness, sadness, and apathy are prevalent and are not subsiding, you should schedule an appointment with your primary care physician to talk about what you’re experiencing.
Depression Diagnosis and Treatment
Your doctor will ask you for detailed information about how you’ve been feeling and may ask you to fill out a questionnaire. They’ll take your blood pressure and other vital signs, as well as conduct blood work to rule out any underlying conditions, such as a thyroid problem. If your doctor believes you may be depressed, they’ll refer you to a mental health provider for additional evaluation.
Treatment options depend on the patient, their medical history, and severity of depression. They can include psychotherapy, support groups, medications, exercise programs, lifestyle changes, and in the most severe cases, hospitalization.
What is seasonal affective disorder (SAD)?
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that affects people mostly during fall or winter months. It can happen due to a shift in their circadian rhythm when there’s less sunlight. While some people may try to explain them away as winter blues, seasonal affective disorder is yet another form of depression, and the symptoms are as distressing and disruptive to everyday life.
Treatment options are similar to the ones described above. However, it may also include light therapy.
If you or a loved one are dealing with mental health issues, let us help you.
At St. Hope, we serve many patients living with a myriad of medical conditions. We believe that treating people with compassion is as important as the medicine they receive. We foster a trusting patient/medical provider relationship to ensure that everyone who walks through our doors feels comfortable and receives the care they deserve.
We take same-day appointments, accept all insurance plans, and welcome walk-ins. Call us at 713-778-1300 or visit us at one of our five locations.