If you have heard about the stigma surrounding depression, it may surprise you to learn that this condition is far more widespread than you think. It affects nearly 18 million people in the U.S., according to Dr. Patricia Deldin, director of the Mood and Schizophrenia Lab at the University of Michigan and professor of psychology and psychiatry. She says that at any given time, about three to five percent of people in the country suffer from major depression. People with this disorder have symptoms like sadness, lack of pleasure in once fulfilling tasks, sleep changes, and more.
Stressful life events don’t always trigger depression
A major life event like a job loss or divorce can trigger depressive episodes, but stress is not always the culprit. It’s also important to consider the coping strategies to manage such events. In a meta-analysis, Kessing et al. found that 24% of cancer patients reported major depression.
A stressful life event can increase cortisol levels, which are important to the body’s fight-or-flight response. The higher the cortisol level, the greater the risk of depression. Acute stress, on the other hand, results from a single event or situation that lasts for a short period of time. Chronic, unmanageable stress leads to depressive symptoms.
Some risk factors are genetically linked to depression. Those with a family history of depression will be more likely to develop the condition. However, life events and personality can play a big role in determining the likelihood of developing depression. For instance, people with low self-esteem, perfectionist tendencies, and negative personalities are at greater risk. People with chronic medical conditions or a family history of depression are also more likely to develop depression.
Depression is a logical response to tough situations
Depression is a natural human response to tough situations, but it’s important to understand that depression is not a sign of weakness. Contrary to popular belief, men are not more likely to suffer from depression than women. Rather, depression is a natural reaction to experiences in life that cause a person to feel powerless, helpless, or fearful. So it makes no sense to try to be happy when you’re really feeling depressed.
Pain is an important signal for organisms. It signals the approach or avoidance of something. In the evolutionary context, pleasure is a signal to approach, while pain signals a need to retreat. In physical terms, pain is a signal that the body needs to maintain its structural integrity.
The underlying mechanism of depression is not fully understood. While there are various possible causes for depression, some researchers have identified certain cognitive processes that may lead to depression. The first of these is the presence of distorted beliefs about oneself. People with depressive thoughts often believe that they are unworthy, and that negative life events result from their own inadequacy. For example, if a person is not promoted at work, they may attribute their lack of promotion to mediocrity and fail to consider alternative explanations for the situation.
Depression is a chronic illness
Depression is a common disorder that has significant personal, family, social, and economic consequences. Unfortunately, despite advances in science, few treatment programs are available. The topic of depression and primary care remains controversial. However, there are some strategies that can improve the current state of treatment. These strategies include integrating mental health and primary care, developing bridges between primary care and behavioral health, and focusing on prevention and maintenance treatment.
Depression is more common in women than in men. This is partly because women tend to report their symptoms to their physicians more than men. Other factors that may lead to depression in women are hormone changes that affect a woman’s body. Furthermore, some long-term illnesses, such as heart disease, autoimmune diseases, and chronic headaches and pain, increase the risk of depression. Some people also develop depression because of drug use or other conditions that disrupt the body’s balance of neurotransmitters.
Self-care is crucial in managing depression. Self-care strategies include engaging with friends and family, exercising regularly, and eating a healthy diet. A therapist can also help a person develop self-care techniques. Practicing these strategies can help a person cope with their symptoms and prevent a relapse.
Depression medication is not the only treatment
Depression medication can be effective in treating depression, but many people find that it doesn’t cure the problem completely. It often works best when combined with psychotherapy. Before you begin taking any kind of medication, talk to your doctor and explore your treatment options. If you are having suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-talk, which offers trained counselors in your area. You can also go to the National Helpline Database for resources related to mental health.
There are many different types of antidepressants available. The main ones are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). Antidepressants are a common treatment for depression, but they do have side effects.
Besides talking to a doctor, you can also try cognitive-behavioral therapy. This form of therapy aims to identify the thought processes and behaviors that contribute to depression. It is also used in couples and family therapy. Problem-solving therapy seeks to identify effective solutions to the problems that lead to depression, such as getting a job.