Depression

Overview of Condition

Being depressed is not just about feeling sad or upset. Everyone can experience periods of feeling down for a few days, but when someone is depressed, these low periods can continue for weeks or months on end.  Unlike the false belief that depression is something a person can just “get over”, depression is a genuine illness with real symptoms. It can affect anyone from any background and at any age. 


Signs/Symptoms

Symptoms of depression affect a person’s emotions, thinking, and how they feel physically.  Some examples include:

  • Ongoing feelings of sadness or hopelessness
  • Lack of interest in life and difficulty enjoying things
  • Feeling continually tired, restless or agitated
  • Low self-confidence
  • Feeling useless or inadequate
  • Poor sleep
  • Tearfulness
  •  Difficulty concentrating 

The severity of depressive symptoms can vary between mild and severe. When experiencing mild symptoms, a person can feel consistently sad, tearful, or down. When experiencing severe depression, a person may feel suicidal and/or experience psychotic symptoms.

Having an emotional reaction to a difficult experience is a natural, human response: for example, the death of a loved one, divorce, or financial difficulties. Low mood that does not improve over an extended period of time may be a sign of depression.

Treatment Options

Treating depression can include both medication and therapy. With the right input and support, most people can recover from depression.

Medications

Various classes of drugs are used to treat depression, each focused on a different chemical in the brain.  The most popular class includes antidepressants like SSRIs, SNRIs, TCAs and MAOIs (used rarely due to high risk of interactions with other drugs and foods).  Additionally, there are some antidepressants that offer different mechanisms of action, like targeting both norepinephrine and dopamine, or both serotonin and norepinephrine.  For some patients, antipsychotics have been shown to enhance the effects of antidepressants.  And for others, mood stabilizing drugs, anti-anxiety medicines or stimulants have shown positive impact on symptoms of depression.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT, is a talking therapy that can help patients manage their illness problems by changing the way they think and behave. It is most commonly used to treat anxiety and depression, but has also shown efficacy in treating depression.

Caring for someone with Depression

It is often the parents and step-parents who are the primary caregivers, and they spend most of their time tending to the medical needs of their loved one.

But being a caregiver can be very stressful and burdensome. It often leaves the caregiver with little or no time to tend to his/her own needs.  Approximately 63% of caregivers admit not having enough time for themselves, and 55% admit that they don't have time to manage their own health. Routine visits to the doctor are essential to ask for advice and assistance with caregiving, especially since caregiving is known to have mental health consequences for the caregiver, including the increased likelihood of depression, insomnia, and anxiety.

Key Facts

  • Depression is one of the leading causes of disability in the world, affecting as many as 350 million people worldwide.
  • In 2012, an estimated 16 million adults aged 18 or older in the U.S. had at least one major depressive episode in the past year. This represented 6.9 percent of all U.S. adults.
  • Depression can affect anyone of any age, from any background and circumstance.
  • Although recovering from depression isn't easy, many people can get better with the right help and support.