We’ve all had bad days or times when we felt a little down or blue. But you may wonder if what you’re feeling is more serious than that. How do you know when you’re suffering from depression?
More than just a bad mood, depression is a medical illness. Sometimes called major depression or clinical depression, it affects both your mind and your body, and it can change the ways you behave and think. If you’re concerned that you or someone you love may be living with depression, education yourself so you can find solutions.
Experts may not know what exactly causes depression, but there can be some important contributing factors.
- Childhood trauma. People who were abused or suffered a big loss as children may be more susceptible to depression.
- Genetics. Researchers are trying to determine if certain genes play a role in depression. Studies have shown that people who have family members with the condition are more likely to develop it themselves.
- Hormones. Changes in your balance of hormones—caused by thyroid problems, menopause, or other issues—can trigger depression in some people.
- Brain factors. Research shows that many people with depression may have experienced some physical changes in their brains. Depressed people may also have an issue with certain brain chemicals, called neurotransmitters, which can affect mood.
- Life-changing events. People who are grieving a death or experiencing stress may be at higher risk for developing depression. Also, women who have just given birth can experience post-partum depression.
Some of the signs of depression can be hard to pinpoint, and often they can be indicative of another condition. However, here are some symptoms to look out for:
- Consistent feelings of sadness
- Inability to sleep well or tending to sleep too much
- Changes in appetite
- Extreme irritability, even over small things
- Anxiety or restlessness
- Indecisiveness or inability to concentrate
- A slowing down of speech or thought
- Lack of energy or extreme fatigue
- Decrease in sex drive
- Loss of interest in everyday activities
- Unexplained crying spells
- Persistent headaches or other pains
- Feelings of pessimism, guilt, or worthlessness
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Everyone is different. For some people, the warning signs can be severe and obvious, while for other people, they are more subtle. If you are experiencing one of more of these symptoms, don’t hesitate to get help.
Remember that depression is not something you just “get over” on your own. It requires treatment, just like any other medical condition. Most people respond very well to a combination of antidepressant medications and psychotherapy.
To learn more about depression and how to treat it, contact Behavioral Health Services at Aventura Hospital. Visit us online or call Consult-A-Nurse® at 1-888-256-7692. We’re here to answer all your questions.