Major Depression

A mood disorder that affects approximately 322 million people worldwide, depression brings with it feelings of profound hopelessness, exhaustion, and apathy towards previously enjoyable activities. Depression is sometimes called major depression or clinical depression.

This mental health disorder can come in mild to more severe forms. In the most intense cases, depression can be fatal via suicide. Learning to spot the signs of depression is an important step in seeking support and treatment.

The Symptoms of Depression

Depression can look different from one patient to the next and also take on different forms in one patient as he or she cycles from one period of depression to the next. There are common symptoms to look for, however. General symptoms of depression to look for include:

  • Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
  • Extreme fluctuations in sleep patterns
  • Weight fluctuations with no apparent cause
  • Extreme guilt
  • Lack of concentration at work or in school
  • Feeling tired even after sleeping well
  • Apathy towards favorite hobbies
  • Suicidal ideation

Diagnostic criteria for depression requires that the patient experience at least five symptoms for at least two weeks.

If you or someone you love is experiencing thoughts of suicide, seek emergency help immediately. You can reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. 

The Causes of Depression

Research has not zeroed in on one cause of depression. What is known is that a combination of physical and environmental triggers often lead to depression.

Working with a mental health professional is the best way to figure out the cause of one’s depression. Common causes of depression include:

  • Life trauma (death in family, accident)
  • Preexisting health condition
  • Genetics
  • Biochemistry

Is There a Cure for Depression?

Depression can be a chronic disorder that exists throughout one’s life, but there are patients who are able to put depression into “remission.” Still others can at least significantly reduce symptoms through therapeutic intervention. Statistics show that 80 percent of those who seek out treatment for the disorder see positive changes in four to six weeks. It is important to know when you should seek out emergency care or begin working with a therapist.

When to Seek Emergency Care

Everyone should understand– If yourself or someone you love is experiencing thoughts of suicide, harming others, or harming themselves in any way, it is important to seek emergency care. Options include:

  • Going to the emergency room
  • Calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255
  • Texting the Crisis Text Line at 741742

When to See a Therapist or Counselor

Working with a therapist is a great way for those with depression to build healthy tools for coping with depression. Talk therapies can be particularly effective, including:

  • CBT
  • Psychoanalysis
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy
  • Experiential therapy

In some cases, working with a psychiatrist may be the best approach since psychiatrists can supplement therapy with medication.

Visit a Psychiatrist

Psychiatrists are medical doctors who can provide medical interventions in addition to talk therapy. After assessing your symptoms, a psychiatrist will determine whether antidepressants or other prescriptions are a good option for you. A combination of talk therapy and medication can be very effective for some patients. Medication management done in close partnership with your psychiatrist can help ensure the best outcome.