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Depression Symptoms and Treatments

February 08, 2024 Posted in: Wellness

As the winter months are underway, many may experience increased symptoms of depression as a result of the seasonal shift.  However, it's crucial to understand that this widespread and serious mood disorder doesn't just stick to the seasons. 

What is depression?

Depression is more than just occasional sadness.  It can significantly impact an individual's quality of life, affecting how someone feels, thinks, and behaves.  Depression can often coexist with anxiety since they share common neurotransmitters in the brain.

The causes of depression are diverse, involving genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors.  Family history, significant life changes, trauma, and stress can also contribute to its onset.

There are also different types of depression:

  • Major depression disorder – lasting more than or equal to two weeks
  • Persistent depressive disorder – less severe symptoms but lasts for more than two years
  • Perinatal or postpartum depression – affects some when pregnant or following pregnancy
  • Depression with psychosis – a more severe form of depression where people experience delusions or hallucinations
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) – most prevalent when there is less sunlight. 

Common symptoms of depression

Signs of depression include persistent feelings of sadness, irritability, loss of interest in activities, fatigue, changes in sleep patterns appetite, and thoughts of death or suicide.  Identifying these symptoms early is essential for effective and professional intervention. 

What treatment options are available?

Treatment for depression often utilizes a combination of medications, psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and lifestyle changes.  Prescription medications help increase the level of  neurotransmitters in the brain that help regulate mood.  Treatment through medication may take four to eight weeks for full effectiveness.  However, there will typically be noticeable improvements within two weeks.

Beyond medication, lifestyle changes play a pivotal role in managing depression.  Avoiding substance use, maintaining healthy and regular eating and sleeping habits, exercising, exposure to sunlight, and staying socially connected are vital to both treating and preventing depression.  Treatment for those experiencing SAD may also include light therapy, medications, and talk therapy. 

Understanding depression requires recognizing its varied signs and addressing its causes.  By combining medical intervention, therapy, and lifestyle adjustments, individuals can navigate the complexities of this mood disorder. 

If you or a loved one is dealing with depression, consult with a knowledgeable health care professional who can provide a formal evaluation and create a treatment plan.  If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, call or text the crisis lifeline at 988.  If case of an emergency, call 911.

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