People often use the term depression to describe everyday sadness or worry. However, depression is much deeper than sadness, and is an empty, lifeless feeling, in which irrational thoughts and out-of-control feelings are common.
Take this short quiz to see if you might be depressed. Please remember that this quiz should not substitute a medical opinion, and if you think you might be depressed or suicidal, you should seek immediate medical attention.
How to Support Someone with Depression
Who suffers from depression?
Because of societal expectations, depression symptoms vary in men, women, teens, older adults, and others. Men are more likely to exhibit their depression through fatigue, irritability, sleep problems, and disinterest in normal activities. Men are also more likely to exhibit aggressive, violent, or reckless behavior, and to abuse substances. Men are at a higher risk of suicide.
Women are most likely to exhibit depressive symptoms as feelings of guilt, sleeping too much, overeating, gaining, and women are more likely to suffer from seasonal affective disorder. Women are twice as likely to experience depression, compared to men. This is influenced by women’s hormonal factors, premenstrual symptoms, postpartum depression, and perimenopausal depression.
Teenagers most often exhibit their depression with signs of irritability, though they may also seem sad. Depressed teenagers are sometimes angry, hostile, and grumpy. Teenage depression is highly treatable, but it is always best to seek help early on in order to avoid severe problems, such as drug or alcohol use, self-loathing and self-harm behaviors, and trouble with school or friends.
Older adults also suffer from depression, and usually exhibit physical symptoms that do not have physical explanations, and therefore often goes untreated. Elderly people suffering from depression are at an increased risk of suicide as they are usually facing other issues that contribute to their depression, including complicating health problems, bereavement, and end-of-life crises.
Types of Depression
Major Depression: Impacting 7% of Americans, major depression presents with symptoms of sadness, hopelessness, trouble concentrating, changes in sleep or eating patterns, reduced energy levels, and feelings of guilt. Major depression generally lasts more than two weeks, and must be prolonged at least that long for an official diagnosis. Major depression can be reoccurring, and can often be treated with antidepressant medications or talk therapy.
Dysthymia: Impacting 2% of Americans, dysthymia is a prolonged type of depression in which depressive feelings affect the individual for long period of times, sometimes lasting over a year. Symptoms include low mood, sadness, trouble concentrating, changes in sleep, changes in eating patterns, and fatigue. Those with dysthymia can function, but not well, in their daily activities. Similarly to major depression sufferers, dysthymia can be treated with talk therapy and medication.
Postpartum Depression: Impacting 85% of new mothers, postpartum depression affects women shortly after the birth of a baby. Postpartum is frequent, but 16% of women report symptoms that are uncontrollable. Postpartum is known for symptoms including suicidal thoughts, fears about hurting your newborn, fatigue, sadness, and loneliness. Like major depression and dysthymia, postpartum depression can be treated with talk therapy and medication.
Seasonal Affective Disorder: Impacting 4-6% of Americans, seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD, produces symptoms of anxiety, irritability, fatigue, and weight gain, primarily during the winter months. This is due to a reduction in sunlight during the winter months, and is often treated with light therapy or artificial light treatment.
Atypical Depression: Atypical depression differs from major depression as symptoms usually include more physical symptoms, such as heaviness in arms and legs, and functions almost like paralysis. Usually, these symptoms also include overeating or sleeping too much, and irritability and weight gain are common. Talk therapy is the most common treatment for atypical depression.
Psychotic Depression: 20% of depression sufferers experience depressive episodes that include psychotic hallucinations or delusions, and can have trouble speaking, leaving their bed, or may experience catatonic behaviors. Treatment usually includes antipsychotic and antidepressant medications.
Bipolar Disorder: About 2-3% of Americans suffer from bipolar disorder, which includes bipolar lows, mimicking major depressive episodes, as well as bipolar highs, demonstrated by racing thoughts, excitement, unexplained energy, poor judgment, and out-of-the-ordinary spending habits, sexual behaviors, or substance use. Bipolar is characterized by the cycle of highs and lows, and has different subtypes, including Bipolar I, Bipolar II, Cyclothymic disorder, and specified bipolar disorders. Usually, bipolar is treated with medication, such as mood stabilizers.
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder: Contributing to the increased depression in women, PMDD, or Premenstrual dysphoric disorder affects women monthly, usually during the second half of their menstrual cycles, and women are faced with depression, anxiety, and mood swings. PMDD affects 5% of women, and is more severe than commonly-experienced PMS (premenstrual syndrome). PMDD is treated with nutrition therapy, talk therapy, and depression medication.
Situational Depression: Commonly referred to as adjustment disorder, situational depression is the effect of a life-changing event, such as the death of a friend or family, loss of job, or a traumatic relationship problem. Affecting over 20% of the American population, symptoms of situational depression include nervousness, sadness, and worry, and usually go away on their own, as the stressor resolves itself or time passes.
Are you concerned about a friend or family member?
Stay alert for warning signs, and make sure to encourage and support them if they are suicidal. Do not ignore suicidal symptoms! Get help today.
- Talking about suicide or self-harm behaviors
- Talking or obsessing about death
- Tying up loose ends (selling possessions, making a will)
- Preoccupation with dying
- Acting recklessly (driving dangerously, unusual sexual behavior)
- Making amends with friends or family, saying goodbye
- If you think a friend or family member is considering suicide, seek help immediately.
Signs of Depression
Though your depressed friend or family member should definitely seek medical assistance, you can also help them in the meantime. You can do the following to help ease their depression:
- Be there for them.
- Show them that you care with small gestures, like a card, or dinner.
- Don’t judge them or criticize them. Being insensitive will cause them to withdrawal from you.
- Do not use tough-love. Providing ultimatums and giving the silent treatment will only push away your loved one.
- Do not minimize their pain. If they are hurting, their feelings are valid.
- Do not offer advice. Your advice can make them feel inadequate or insulted, and they will withdrawal.
- Do not compare their situation to anyone else’s. Each person feels things differently, and you want to avoid minimizing their pain.
- Educate yourself about depression. If you learn about what your friend or family member is experiencing, you can help them through the difficult time.
- Be patient with your loved one. Being patient will give them hope, which is often something that individuals suffering from depression lack.
You may be depressed if you suffer from any symptoms above. If you can’t stop crying, feeling sad, angry, or stressed, and have lost interest in your daily activities, you should seek depression treatment from a trained counselor. Depression is common, affecting one in ten people in the United States, and it is okay to get help. You cannot do it alone.
Seeking treatment for depression is easy. Select a professional, we recommend an LPCC or LCSW first, and have an assessment performed. They may refer you to a psychiatric ARNP or a psychiatrist for a medication evaluation and or prescribe a course of treatment. If you need help, call us at 859-338-0466 or contact us today!
Make an appointment with a dedicated staff member in order to start your healing process. Please see the Counseling Process section for more details on scheduling your visit.