(major depressive disorder)
Millions of Americans suffer from depression. It’s real, it’s tough, and we can help.
What is Depression?
Depression is a serious illness in which a person feels sad, down or less interested in activities most of the time for two weeks or longer. Depression affects how a person thinks, feels and behaves and can make it very difficult to engage with others and take care of daily responsibilities. Life may feel overwhelming, exhausting, and painful. As debilitating as depression can be, it also is highly treatable.
Symptoms of Depression
Symptoms vary from mild to severe and may include:
- Feeling sad, empty, tearful or hopeless
- Feeling irritable, angry or easily frustrated, in a bad mood*
- Loss of interest or pleasure in most activities, feeling unmotivated or bored, going through the motions
- Appetite or weight changes
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Fidgeting, pacing or seeming very slowed down (as if in slow motion)
- Low energy or fatigue
- Body aches, weakness, and other physical symptoms*
- Feeling worthless or excessively guilty, focusing on past failures
- Trouble concentrating or making simple decisions, forgetfulness
- Thoughts of death or suicide
*Not in the diagnostic criteria for adults but commonly experienced
What Causes Depression?
While the exact causes of depression are unknown, depression may result from the interaction of biological, psychological and social factors.
- Differences in brain chemistry, hormones and genes may make some people more vulnerable to depression, especially when faced with stressful life events or circumstances.
- Psychological factors such as patterns of thinking, coping skills and emotional intelligence also may influence a person’s likelihood of developing depression.
- Hormone changes during and after pregnancy may contribute to peripartum depression (formerly post-partum depression).
- For some people, depression may follow a clear stressful life event like losing a loved one, while others may feel miserable without knowing why.
Fortunately, treatment can help no matter the cause.
Treatment for Depression
A person can’t just “snap out of” depression; it’s an illness that often requires professional treatment. Treatment options for depression include:
- Individual therapy – Psychotherapists use a variety of techniques to help people recover from mental illness, resolve personal issues and make beneficial changes in their lives.
- Medication – Antidepressants modify brain chemistry to balance a person’s mood.
- Interventional Medicine (most often used for treatment resistant or chronic forms of depression):
- TMS – Transcranial magnetic stimulation is a non-invasive treatment that uses electromagnetic pulses to stimulate nerve cells in the brain to improve symptoms of depression.
- Spravato or (esketamine) – Spravato is a Ketamine-based nasal spray administered in the presence of your medical provider. It has been found to activate and even regenerate neural tissue, aiding in symptom relief that is more rapid and dramatic than other interventions.
- Group therapy – Participants are encouraged and supported by a therapist and peers in a group setting.
- Lifestyle changes – Regular exercise, adequate sleep and supportive relationships can improve depression symptoms and make future episodes of depression less likely.
Why Seek Help for Depression?
Untreated depression damages the things that matter most: relationships, quality of life, productivity, and physical health. For children and teens, these consequences may be even more severe. Untreated depression may impair their development, increase their risk of engaging in unhealthy behaviors like substance use, and make them more likely to experience chronic or recurrent depression.
Seasonal depression (also called seasonal affective disorder), peripartum depression (previously postpartum depression), bipolar disorders
If you suspect that you or someone you love suffers from depression, contact Athena Care today.
One of our friendly associates will help you get the help you need. Take this first step to feel better and take control.