As the U.S. continues to face an unprecedented mental health crisis, more and more people are beginning to wonder whether they themselves are struggling with a mental illness. As one of the most common mental health conditions in the U.S., it is important to know when it is time to see if you may be struggling with depression.
What Is Depression?
Depression is a serious mental health condition that can be debilitating and even life-threatening if left untreated. Anyone can suffer from depression, regardless of their social, economic, or personal background. Of course, there are some factors that can increase the risk of depression, including:
- Genetics: A family history of depression can increase a person’s risk of developing this condition, as certain genes that are associated with depression can be passed down from parents to their children.
- Brain chemistry: Depression is caused by imbalances in certain brain chemicals, such as serotonin and norepinephrine, and those with low levels of these chemicals are more likely to develop this condition.
- Life events: Stressful life events, such as the death of a loved one, job loss, financial problems, or any other significant and distressing events, can trigger depression.
- Medical conditions: Some medical conditions, such as chronic pain, cancer, and thyroid problems, can increase the risk of depression.
- Medications: Certain medications, such as corticosteroids and beta-blockers, can have side effects that include depression.
- Substance abuse: Drug and alcohol abuse can increase the risk of developing depression or worsen pre-existing symptoms.
As a mental disorder, depression has a long and complicated history in the U.S. While there is still quite a lot of stigma attached to this disease today, there has been significant progress in efforts to increase awareness and treatment for those struggling with depression.
Types of Depression
There are many different types of depression a person can suffer from, and knowing which form of this disease you are being affected by can help you get the right treatment. Some of the most commonly recognized forms of depression today include:
- Major depressive disorder (MDD): This is the most common type of depression and is characterized by a persistent feeling of sadness or emptiness, loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyable, and other symptoms that interfere with daily life.
- Persistent depressive disorder: Also known as dysthymia, this is a chronic form of depression that is less severe than MDD and typically lasts for at least two years.
- Bipolar disorder: This is a mood disorder that causes extreme mood swings, from mania (a period of elevated mood, energy, and activity) to depression, characterized by low motivation, self-esteem, and self-sabotaging thoughts.
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD): This is a type of depression that occurs during the winter months and improves during the spring and summer months.
- Psychotic depression: This is a severe form of depression in which a person experiences delusions or hallucinations, which can lead to serious harm to themselves or others.
It is also important to note that it is possible to experience multiple types of depression at the same time and that, in order to get a proper diagnosis, you should speak to a mental health professional.
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What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Depression?
With so many different forms that depression can take, it may feel overwhelming to figure out whether you may be struggling with this condition or not. While an official diagnosis can only be made by a mental health professional, there are signs and symptoms that you can look out for, including:
- Persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety, or emptiness.
- Constantly feeling hopeless or pessimistic.
- Feeling irritable, frustrated, or restless.
- Feeling guilty, worthless, or helpless.
- Losing interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities.
- Lack of energy or feeling fatigued or slow.
- Having a hard time concentrating, remembering things, or making decisions.
- Having trouble sleeping or oversleeping.
- Irregular appetite and unexpected weight loss or gain.
- Unexplainable physical pain, such as headaches, cramps, or digestive issues.
- Suicidal thoughts and ideations.
Each of these symptoms can be debilitating and, in severe cases, life-threatening in the case of suicide or dietary complications. If you think you may be struggling with clinical depression, it is important to seek help as soon as possible. This disease can have serious impacts on your life, but with the right help, it can be managed.
How Is Depression Diagnosed?
While it can seem intimidating to get a clinical depression diagnosis, understanding your condition will allow you to finally get the help you need. Depression is diagnosed by a mental health professional, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist. The diagnosis is based on a combination of factors, including:
- Your symptoms: Your mental health professional will ask you about your symptoms and how long you have been experiencing them. Usually, those who have experienced multiple symptoms for over a two-week period will receive an official diagnosis.
- Your medical history: You will also be asked about your medical history, including any physical health conditions, medications you are taking, and any family history of mental illness.
- Mental health history: Your mental health history will also be assessed, including any previous episodes of depression or other mental illnesses you may have experienced in the past.
- Psychological assessment: Your mental health professional may also conduct a psychological assessment, which is a series of tests designed to measure your mood, personality, and cognitive function.
Once your screening for depression has been completed and you have received your official diagnosis, you may be left wondering what your next steps should be. While this can be a difficult time, you can rest easy knowing there are several treatment options available to you.
Where Can I Get Checked for Depression?
While seeking out your local psychiatrist may be an easy option to get checked for depression, this may not be your best choice. A psychiatrist can only diagnose you and point you in the direction of a therapist or other medical provider to help with your condition.
If you are looking to manage your depression in the long term, seeking help from a professional treatment center can give you the best chance at lasting recovery. The staff and services at these facilities are designed to give you the care and support you need to address your depression and learn how to properly manage your symptoms.
Depression Treatment at Royal Life Centers
At Royal Life Centers, we specialize in treating a number of behavioral health issues, from substance abuse to mental health conditions, including depression. Our compassionate staff of mental health treatment providers and specialists are here to provide the best care possible.
From residential and outpatient treatment to behavioral therapies, holistic treatments, life skills training, and aftercare support, we offer a full continuum of care to help you address every aspect of your mental health condition.
Depression can be debilitating, but that’s why we are here to make sure you are able to gain the tools and skills you need to manage your condition in the long term. If you are ready to give yourself the chance you deserve at a happier and healthier life, reach out to us now.
We understand that making the decision to get professional help can be scary. That’s why we make sure to work with our clients every step of the way on their recovery journey. If you are ready to start working toward a happier, healthier life, call us at 877-RECOVERY today. Our admissions team is available 24/7 to help you learn more about how our treatment programs can help you.