Depression is a common psychological disorder and almost anyone can be affected at some point during their life; research suggests that between 5 and 10% of the population suffer from depression to some extent at any one time. It is important to recognise that there is a vast difference between feeling down one day and having a depression disorder. If feelings don’t go away quickly, or they start affecting an individual’s everyday life, it may be time to seek professional help.
Living with depression
Living with depression can affect the way someone eats, sleeps, works and the way they feel about themselves and their life. Other people may tell the individual suffering from depression to ‘pull themselves together’ or ‘snap out of it’, but no matter how much an individual wants to, they usually can’t just get over it and simply feel better. This is not a sign of weakness as some people may believe, but part of the psychological disorder.
Many individuals may not understand why they are feeling the way they are and therefore can be too embarrassed to seek help, believing the feelings will disappear sooner or later. However this usually means they suffer longer than necessary, as help is available for those suffering from depression. Depression affects people in different ways and can cause a variety of physical and psychological symptoms:
Symptoms of depression
- feeling constantly pessimistic
- feeling constantly sad, anxious or empty
- lack of energy
- restlessness and irritability
- feeling worthless, helpless or guilty
- loss of interest in hobbies or activities
- difficulty concentrating and making decisions
- changes in sleep patterns
- changes in appetite
- thoughts of death or suicide
- persistent physical symptoms, such as headaches and digestive disorders.
Types of Depression
There are different types of depression, including Major Depression, Dysthymic Disorder, Bipolar Disorder/Manic Depression and Postnatal Depression:
Major Depression is the most severe type of depression as more of the symptoms are present at any one time compared to the other types of depression. Major depression is usually diagnosed when at least five of the symptoms are present at the same time for two weeks or more. The depressive period may only occur once in an individual’s life, however it is more common that it is experienced several times after the initial episode.
Dysthymic Disorder is less severe than major depression (the symptoms are not as severe as major depression where sufferers experience several at one time), however occurs on a daily basis for a number of years. Dysthymia can develop at an early stage in an individual’s life and if this is the case, it is common for sufferers to believe it is a normal way of feeling. Dysthymic disorder is usually diagnosed if an individual suffers from some of the symptoms on a daily basis for at least 2 years.
Bipolar Disorder/Manic Depression
Bipolar Disorder (originally known as Manic Depression) causes an individual’s mood to alternate between intense highs and unbearable lows. These contrasting periods are known as episodes of mania and depression. A manic episode or depressive episode is diagnosed if three or more of the mood symptoms below occur nearly every day for at least a week:
- Increase in energy and activity
- Intensely high mood
- Extreme irritability
- Racing thoughts, fast talking jumping from idea to idea
- Finds it hard to concentrate
- Little sleep needed
- Unrealistic thoughts about their abilities or powers
- A lasting period of behaviour that is different from usual
- Intrusive or aggressive behaviour
- Denial of anything being wrong.
- Lasting sad or anxious mood
- Feeling guilty or helpless
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities
- Decreased energy, tiredness and irritability
- Difficulty concentrating
- Change in appetite
- Sleeping too much, or can’t sleep
- Chronic pain or other persistent bodily symptoms
- Thoughts of death or suicide.
Postnatal Depression is a treatable disorder that usually occurs two to five days after having a baby and happens to between 10 and 15 percent of mothers. The symptoms are similar to those of other depression disorders and can range from very mild cases of ‘baby blues’ to a severe disorder called postnatal psychosis. Other symptoms may include frequently crying for no apparent reason and feelings of rejection from a partner, family, friends or even the baby.
Cause of depression
Research suggests there are a combination of factors that influence the development of depression. These include:
- Research suggests that individuals with certain characteristics (e.g. low confidence/self-esteem, a pessimistic outlook and negative thought patterns) are more prone to depression.
- An imbalance of serotonin (a chemical in the brain) is thought to contribute to depression by altering an individual’s thought process and emotions.
- Some research has suggested a genetic link to some types of depression. However depression also occurs in individuals who have no family history of the disorder.
- Research has suggested a link between abnormal levels of Cortisol (a natural steroid hormone in the body) with depression.
- Research has found that traumatic experiences such as divorce, the loss of a loved one, abuse and neglect may contribute to depression.
Treatment for depression
Counselling and psychotherapy are extremely effective ways of treating depression if cases are mild to moderate. Drug therapy is also available for more severe situations and there are a variety of antidepressant medications that are available. Many sufferers find that a combination of treatments is most effective; the medication gives the sufferer fast relief from the symptoms and the counselling/psychotherapy teaches the individual how to deal with the problems they have.
Other types of therapy, including hypnotherapy and hypnosis, can also be effective in treating depression, and are gaining wider recognition. Hypnoanalysis (psychotherapy using hypnosis) seeks to uncover the root cause of the negative feelings and emotion, thus removing the symptoms.
Content source www.hypnotherapy-directory.org.uk