Depression is a widespread mental health condition. Depression affects 322 million people around the world, and in the US, over 15 million adults experience depression each year. Additionally, many cases of depression go unreported. To address the problem of depression, behavioral health advocates participate in Depression Awareness Month each October. During the month, people work to educate others on the signs, symptoms, and consequences of depression. Advocates also work to inform people who suffer from depression that recovery is possible.
In this article, we participate in Depression Awareness Month ourselves by discussing the topic of depression and sharing available resources. We cover the events that can lead to depression and the major types of depression. We also share how people who suffer from depression can get the behavioral health treatment they need.
Causes of depression
Depression can arise from a variety of events and experiences, and in some cases, people may not be able to pinpoint a starting point for their depression at all. Common causes of depression include:
- Experiencing trauma or abuse
- Battling illness
- Facing substance abuse
- Losing a loved one
- Sudden life changes
- Social isolation
- Adverse childhood experiences
It is important to note that the above events and experiences are likely to cause sadness for everyone, and feeling sad at times is a normal part of life. Depression differs from a normal experience of sadness in a few key ways. When a person is depressed, the person’s sadness extends for months or years. The feelings of sadness may also be particularly intense, and they may also come with feelings of worthlessness and general apathy. Depression also may come with physical symptoms, such as sudden changes in a person's sleep schedule and appetite.
Depression and suicide
Like most mental health conditions, depression does not go away on its own. In many cases, depression gets worse over time without the intervention of a trained clinical professional. When a person's depression progresses, the person may become overwhelmed and unable to imagine positive change in their life. In those scenarios, the person feels hopeless and may begin having thoughts of suicide.
It is essential for people suffering from depression to realize that treatment is available. Suicide is not a path toward recovery, and people do not have to experience depression for the rest of their lives. If you or a loved one has suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline anytime at 1 (800) 273-8255 to speak with a trained professional. If you or a loved one is ever in immediate danger, call 911 immediately.
Types of depression
Depression is a complex condition, and people can experience depression in unique ways. Common forms of depression include:
- Major depressive disorder - Major depressive disorder is the most common form of depression and involves intense sadness and a loss of interest in previous sources of enjoyment. Other symptoms include fatigue, changes in appetite, and even adverse effects on cognitive functioning.
- Persistent depressive disorder - Clinicians often refer to persistent depressive disorder as dysthymia. The condition describes experiencing a sad and dark mood for around two years, and the condition often comes after a period of major depressive disorder.
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) - This condition can arise as part of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Clinicians consider PMDD to be a more intense form of PMS, and the condition typically features periods of emotional distress and feelings of hopelessness.
- Adjustment disorder with depressed mood - This condition features depression symptoms within three months of a significant life event. Life events that contribute to the condition can be both positive and negative.
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) - SAD includes depression symptoms during winter or rainy seasons when a person experiences less sunlight and gets outside less.
If you think you may be facing a form of depression, it is best to seek a mental health professional's advice. As mentioned, depression is a complex topic, and without the guidance of a professional, a person will likely misdiagnose themself and not get the treatment they need.
Getting involved in Depression Awareness Month
During Depression Awareness Month, people can participate by sharing educational materials on depression with their family and friends. You can share content online or discuss the topic of depression in person. Additionally, you can share resources for people who may be experiencing depression, including the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA's) hotline. People who may be experiencing depression or other mental health issues can speak with a trained professional 24/7 for support at 1 (800) 662-4357.
It is important to note that intense stigma often surrounds the experience of depression and depression treatment. By discussing depression with your friends and family, your loved ones may feel more comfortable talking about the issue themselves. Also, if a friend or a family member suffers from depression themself, lessened stigma surrounding depression may make them more willing to seek treatment.
Remember…There is hope at Aurora
If you or a loved one are experiencing mental health or addiction symptoms that are concerning or worry you, Aurora is here to help. Our caring team of professionals takes a holistic and authentic approach while providing expert psychiatric care for teens and adults. For more information or to schedule a free confidential assessment, call our 24/7 Admissions Line at 877-870-7012.