It is estimated that nearly one in 10 Americans suffer from some form of depression, making it one of the most common mental health conditions.
Depression is a mood disorder that causes persistent feelings of sadness and a loss of interest in things and activities previously enjoyed, which can result in difficulty with thinking, memory, eating, and sleeping.
Gaining a Better Understanding of Depression
While it is normal to feel sad about difficult situations in life (e.g., the death of a loved one, a divorce, or losing a job), feeling despondent day in and day out for weeks at a time is a symptom associated with depression.
There are several types of depressive disorders:
- Clinical depression is a major depressive disorder in which you feel sad or worthless most days for at least two weeks along with other symptoms, such as difficulty sleeping, a loss of interest in being active, or a change in appetite.
- Persistent depressive disorder (PDD) is a mild or moderate form of depression that lasts for at least two years. It is less severe than major depressive disorder but nonetheless problematic.
- Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (DMDD) causes chronic and intense irritability and frequent anger outbursts, predominantly in children.
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) presents as mood symptoms, such as extreme irritability, anxiety, or depression while you have premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Although these symptoms improve within a few days after your period starts, they can be severe enough to adversely affect your life.
- Depressive disorder due to a medical condition such as cancer, heart disease, hypothyroidism, or Parkinson’s disease.
In addition, there are specific forms of clinical depression, such as seasonal affective disorder (typically during the fall and winter), prenatal and postpartum depression, and atypical depression, in which there is a temporary mood improvement in response to positive events with key symptoms such as increased appetite and rejection sensitivity.
Although researchers do not know the exact cause of depression, several factors are believed to contribute to its development. These include:
- A family history of depressive disorder
- An imbalance of neurotransmitters, including serotonin and dopamine (brain chemistry)
- Stressful life events
- Chronic pain and chronic medical conditions
- Certain medications that cause depression as a side effect
- Substance use, including alcohol
Specific types of depression are diagnosed by healthcare providers based on your symptoms and medical and mental health history. To be diagnosed with depression, you must have five depression symptoms every day, nearly all day, for at least two weeks.
Fortunately, depression is one of the most treatable mental health conditions, with approximately 80% to 90% of those who seek treatment eventually responding well. Treatment options for depression include:
- Psychotherapy (talk therapy) – This involves discussions with a mental health professional who helps you identify and change unhealthy emotions, thoughts, and behaviors.
- Prescription medication – Antidepressants can help alter brain chemistry linked to depression. Since there are various types of antidepressants that can cause side effects, it may take time to find the medication that works best for you.
- Complementary medicine – Therapies such as acupuncture, biofeedback, hypnosis, or massage can improve the wellbeing of those with mild depression or ongoing symptoms.
- Brain stimulation therapy: Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), and vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) are options that can help those who have severe depression or depression with psychosis.
In addition to these methods, there are self-help steps you can take to improve your depression symptoms, such as exercising regularly, getting quality sleep, eating a healthier diet, avoiding alcohol, and spending quality time with those you care about.
Psychiatry in White Plains, New York
At Psyhance, our integrative telepsychiatry clinic offers a unique approach to treating depression, as well as other common mental health conditions such as anxiety, ADHD, addiction, stress, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), eating disorders, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.
Rather than relying solely on medication, we use an innovative combination of modern medicine, psychotherapy, and lifestyle interventions to help you effectively overcome your mental health issue.
To learn more about our exceptional services and how we can help you cope with your mental health diagnosis, request an appointment with Psyhance today or contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.