Depression is a real mental health disorder that can have serious consequences. It’s easy to go from normal to clinical depression if left untreated.
It affects millions of people in the US each year and can take on different forms depending on the individual’s age, gender, and circumstances.
It is important to understand the different types of depression, as well as the mental and physical effects it has on individuals who suffer from it.
Quick Guide to Understanding Depression:
Types of Depression:
Depression is not a one size fits all condition.
There are many variations that can affect people differently.
The most common type of depression is Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), which is marked by persistent feelings of sadness, emptiness, fatigue, loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, sleep disturbances, changes in appetite or weight, difficulty concentrating, and thoughts of suicide or self harm.
Other types include:
Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD) which occurs over a much longer period than MDD.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) which typically only occurs during certain times of year.
Postpartum Depression (PPD) which affects women after giving birth.
Bipolar Disorder (BD) which involves periods of mania as well as depressive episodes.
Atypical Depression (AD) which involves increased appetite or sleeping more than normal.
Psychotic Depression (PD) which involves hallucinations or delusions.
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD).
Situational Depression (SD).
Dysthymia which is chronic but less severe than MDD.
Adjustment Disorders with Depressed Mood (A DDM).
Mental Effects of Depression:
Depression can have devastating effects on a person’s mental health.
Those suffering from depression may feel isolated and disconnected from their loved ones.
They may also experience frequent mood swings, difficulty concentrating or making decisions, persistent negative thinking patterns, suicidal ideation or attempts at suicide.
People with depression may also have trouble connecting emotionally with others due to a lack of interest in activities they once enjoyed or an inability to maintain relationships due to mistrust issues.
Additionally, substance abuse is often seen in those struggling with depression as they attempt to self medicate their symptoms without seeking professional help.
Physical Effects of Depression:
Depression can also manifest itself physically by causing fatigue or exhaustion even after getting plenty of restful sleep.
It can lead to changes in appetite resulting in weight gain or loss depending on the individual’s eating habits.
Chronic pain such as headaches or muscle aches can occur due to an increase in stress hormones such as cortisol that are associated with depression.
Digestive problems such as stomach upset are not uncommon either due to the body being under constant stress when depressed.
Additional physical effects include dizziness and heart palpitations caused by higher levels of adrenaline production triggered by stress hormones released during a depressive episode.
Emotional Effects of of Depression:
Aside from its mental and physical effects, it can impact your emotional self in various ways:
Persistent sadness or feeling empty. People with depression often feel sad or empty for prolonged periods of time, even when there is no obvious reason for their low mood.
Loss of interest or pleasure. Depression can cause a person to lose interest in activities or hobbies that they once enjoyed. They may also have difficulty experiencing pleasure or positive emotions.
Guilt or worthlessness. Many people with depression experience feelings of guilt or worthlessness, even when they have not done anything wrong.
Irritability or agitation. Depression can cause a person to be easily irritated or agitated, even over small things.
It is important to note that the emotional effects of depression can vary from person to person and may change over time.
Spiritual Effects of Depression:
Even though not very often spoken of, depression can have a profound impact on a person’s spiritual wellbeing. Some of the spiritual effects of depression may include:
Loss of meaning and purpose. Depression can make it difficult for a person to find meaning and purpose in life. They may feel like their life lacks direction or that they are not fulfilling their purpose.
Questioning faith or beliefs. Depression can cause a person to question their faith or beliefs, particularly if they are struggling to understand why they are experiencing such intense emotional pain.
Feeling disconnected from others. Depression can make a person feel isolated and disconnected from others, including their community, family, and friends. This can lead to feelings of loneliness and despair.
Loss of hope. Depression can cause a person to lose hope for the future. They may feel like there is no way out of their current situation or that things will never get better.
Spiritual crisis. In some cases, depression can trigger a spiritual crisis, which may involve a reevaluation of one’s beliefs, values, and purpose in life.
What are The Benefits of Treating Depression (Aside from Treating Depression):
Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of treating depression.
One of the primary benefits of treating depression is to reduce or even eliminate the symptoms associated with the condition.
Depending on your individual needs, this may include medication, psychotherapy, lifestyle changes, or a combination of these approaches.
Working with a mental health professional can help you find the best course of treatment for you.
Depression can interfere with many aspects of daily life, including work performance, relationships, and even basic activities such as sleeping and eating.
By getting treatment for your depression, you can improve functioning in all areas of your life.
This could mean improved job performance, better communication skills in relationships, more regular sleeping and eating habits, and overall improved quality of life.
Decrease Risk Factors.
Treating depression also helps to decrease risk factors associated with the condition such as suicidal thoughts or behaviors or substance abuse issues.
If left untreated, depression can lead to self harm or worse, however, by seeking treatment early on you can reduce these risks drastically and give yourself the best chance for recovery.
Additionally, if caught early enough in some cases it may be possible to completely eliminate symptoms without medication or other forms of therapy.
What is The Purpose of Depression?
Like every other emotion and emotional state, Depression is not a villain. It’s not occurring for “no reason” and it carries a message that you should hear.
The most common message of depression is that you are right now at a period of your life where you should slow down and re evaluate WHO YOU ARE.
There are emotions, events and things that happened to you that you need to digest and sort within your psyche to decide what they will mean for you.
It’s a period of your life where you should allow your old identity to go away so a new YOU can be born.
It’s important to not rush this process but to allow yourself to go through the experience in your own pace, to make sense of your own narrative and decide where you are going to be headed.
Sometimes, you might need a guide and a little help on your journey. Everyone needs a helping hand from time to time. That’s why it’s important to seek help if you feel like you need.
What you should remember?
Understanding how depression affects both our mental and physical health is key for anyone suffering from this disorder so they can get proper treatment and support from family members and friends.
It’s important for all individuals, not just those suffering directly, to be aware of the various types of depression so that they can help those around them who might be struggling with it silently without knowing what exactly it is they are going through.
If you think someone you know may be suffering from depression, don’t hesitate to reach out for help, your words could make all the difference.