Everyone feels blue now and again. We all have bad days, suffer disappointment, loss and sometimes deep dispair. These painful experiences are part of life. But prolonged periods of depression marked by anxiety, fatigue, insomnia, and hepelessness are symptoms of a more serious problem known as “depression”.
Depression is a medical condition leading to persistent feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness, thoughts of death and suicide and an inability to feel pleasure or take interest in life. Some depressed people are physically depressed as well — constantly tired and sometimes insomniac or lacking in appetite.
Depression is an emotional disorder encompassing many different types of such disorders. Certain characteristics are same in the different types of depression but the way these disorders affect the sufferer’s life is vastly different. To find the right treatment, one must understand and know the different types of this disorder. Depending on the intensity of the symptoms, the duration of the symptoms and the specific causes, the diagnosis and treatment of the different disorders are done. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), a publication by the American Psychiatric Association, describes the symptoms of the different types of depressive or emotional disorders.
Genetic and biochemical factors play a significant role in causing depression. Environmental, psychological, social and stress factors are equally responsible for it. Women are affected by depression at least two times more than men.
The common symptoms of depression are irritability, a feeling of hopelessness or sadness, social withdrawal, changes in sleep and appetite patterns, a fear of rejection, fatigue and problems in concentrating. Suicidal tendencies can also develop. None of these disorders are caused by any medication or drug. Among the main emotional or psychiatric disorders are major depressive disorders, dysthymic disorder and manic depression or bipolar disorder.
Major depressive disorder or clinical depression has symptoms lasting every day for at least two weeks. These symptoms can be a depressed or sad mood, an absence of interest or pleasure in any activity, change in weight and appetite, sleeping problems, fatigue, a sustained mental tension and a feeling of worthlessness. Many people suffering from this disorder try to commit suicide.
People suffering from dysthymia or dysthymic disorder have a sad mood constantly for two years but it is less severe than major depression. One can notice a change in weight and appetite, sleeping problems, feeling of hopelessness and concentration problems.
Bipolar disorder includes periods of mania and depression. This interchange can be quite rapid. A manic episode consists of an extremely happy or sad mood lasting for a week. Other symptoms include too much of self-importance, insomnia, talkativeness, distraction and involvement in risky behavior like sexual adventures or spending uncontrollably. Sometimes, this disorder can get quite serious warranting hospitalization to prevent harm to self or others.
Among the other types of depression are post partum depression (occurring after having a baby), seasonal affective disorder (a disorder recurring at a specific time of the year), anxiety depression (panic attacks and social phobia), atypical depression (a temporary improvement in mood), chronic depression (sad mood lasts for about two years), double depression (an individual suffers from both dysthymia and a major depressive episode) and endogenous depression (feeling sad for no reason).
Treatment of all kinds of depression depends on the severity of the symptoms and the choice of the patient. The usual methods of treatment include antidepressants, psychotherapy or a combination of both. Psychotherapy is used in treating mild cases of depression. Severe depression needs both the treatments. Medicines help to get relief from physical ailments and therapy teaches effective methods to deal with problems. Sometimes it is necessary to continue with both medicines and therapy sessions to prevent recurrence of the depressive symptoms.