Everyone has bad days in coping with the inevitable ups and downs of life. When feeling low becomes very frequent though and it is accompanied by other symptoms such as anger, feelings of despair and general malaise, it is necessary to take a closer look.
This is because such symptoms may be a red flag to depression. Other symptoms that should be taken seriously are withdrawing from people around and preferring to be alone, feeling dark and hopeless and a lack of interest and pleasure in things that one used to enjoy doing such as work or hobbies. A depressed person may also sleep a lot or have problems sleeping at all and they may overeat or not eat much. The person may also be anxious, easily irritated and in severe cases, they may be preoccupied with death.
There are different types of depression. Two of the most common types are major depression which is also known as clinical depression, and chronic depression which is clinically known as dysthymia.
This type of depression renders the patient unable to carry on simple, everyday activities like sleeping, eating, working, studying and other activities that one liked and participated in like sports. Episodes of clinical depression may be a single occurrence in a person’s life. More often than not though, it becomes a recurrent problem.
The symptoms of clinical depression may be present everyday for most of the day or almost daily. The problem is diagnosed if this persists for at least two weeks continuously. Another criterion for diagnosis is that the symptoms cause significant inability to function or a high level of distress. Also, the symptoms cannot be side effects of a medical condition, substance abuse or prescribed medication.
With chronic depression, the symptoms are seen for long term which is a period of two years or more. There are some symptoms that can lead to a diagnosis of clinical depression but not chronic depression. For instance, the symptoms of chronic depression are less severe than those of clinical depression and also, the former do not disable a person like those of chronic depression do. In patients whom the condition is chronic, one or more episodes of it may be experienced in a lifetime.
There is also what is known as atypical depression. The symptoms seen for this type of depression in include eating and sleeping too much, fatigue, moods that are directly influenced by the goings-on and being extremely sensitive to rejection.
These symptoms are different from those of the two more common forms of depression which are characterized by pervasive sadness, a pattern of difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep and loss of appetite.
Also known as bipolar disorder, this form of depression is a complicated mood disorder. Patients swing from periods where they are clinically depressed to periods where they are extremely or elated. Bipolar disorder is further divided into bipolar I and II.
Bipolar I patients have a history of having suffered at least one episode of manic depression during which they may or may not have had depressive episodes as well. Bipolar II patients have had a single episode of clinical depression as well as at least one episode where they were hypo- manic or mildly elated.
This form of depression occurs at the same time every year. It is also known as seasonal affective disorder or SAD in touch and it usually comes with the dark and cold that comes with fall and winter. Those who suffer this disorder usually see it clear up with the added hours of sunlight that come with spring and summer. There is a rare form of SAD which is known as summer depression. It sets in towards the end of spring or the start of summer and it usually clears up in fall.
This is another form of depression where patients have thoughts that are delusion in addition to the other typical symptoms that are seen with clinical depression. Patients who have this type of depression break away from what is real. The delusions and hallucinations they suffer become what is real to them.
Dubbed ‘baby blues’, this form of depression is experienced in as many as 75 percent of new mothers. It is usually mild and clears up in a few days as the pregnancy hormones settle down. However, in one of 10 mothers who get it, it becomes a more serious condition known as postpartum depression. The mild form of it starts about three days after birth while serious postpartum depression may set in later and last longer.
Depression must never be taken lightly. Any lingering dark feelings that persist for at least two weeks should be investigated by a qualified mental health provider. They will give an accurate medical diagnosis and treatment so that the disorder can be managed and the patient can carry on with their lives.