Mark is a special education attendance specialist as well as a writer. He lives a successful life with both bipolar and addiction disorder.
What is Depression?
Depression is considered a mood disorder, and it affects how you think, feel, and ultimately behave. This mood disorder may give a person feelings and thoughts of sadness, a lack of belonging, fatigue, and difficulty doing day-to-day activities.
In reports by the Mayo Clinic, there are noticeable physical changes in the brain, and research continues to be conducted on the biological aspect. Changes in the release of neurological transmitters, and hormones, have also been linked directly to clinical depression. With these biological conditions in mind, it must be noted that depression has been linked to blood relatives with a history of depression.
The Science of Depression
Symptoms of Depression:
Depression is exhibited and displayed in multiple ways. There isn't an exact science to determining if someone has clinical depression, because multiple factors are considered, including formal and informal evaluations.
The most common symptoms of depression are:
- Feelings of hopelessness, sadness, emptiness, and dejection
- Physical ailments that are unexplained (e.g. back pain or headaches)
- Changes in appetite (e.g. loss of appetite or constantly feeling hungry)
- Persistent feelings of agitation and anger
- Angry outbursts, including uncontrollable crying
- Loss of interest in daily activities, or pleasurable activities
- Feelings of anxiety, and/or irrational thoughts (e.g. death, suicide)
- Difficulty thinking or concentrating for periods of time
- Tiredness, fatigue, and lack of energy
- Sleep disturbance (e.g. insomnia, sleeping too much)
- Signs and symptoms must be present for a minimum of two weeks
5 Common Stereotypes of Depression
1) Depression isn't an illness.
Depression is classified as a mood disorder. According to the DSM-5, clinical depression is broken down into 5 categories.
4 Categories of Depression:
- Persistent Depressive Disorder
- Perinatal Depression
- Psychotic Depression
- Seasonal Affective Disorder
Bipolar mood disorder includes an element called 'bipolar depression', and it occurs when there is an extreme episode of low moods displayed.
Depression is clinically and medically diagnosed using formal / informal evaluations, and assessments. A person does not have to exhibit all of the symptoms to be considered to have a clinical diagnosis.
2) People that are happy, can't be depressed.
This is a stereotype that has zero validity, and often leads to people with actual depression falling through the cracks. People with depression, and other mood disorders, are experts at hiding their conditions.
A person may act happy at work, but are dying inside. Most often, these are the types of people that aren't able to hold it together when they get home from work, or hold it together in more comfortable environments. Professionals must be involved to help evaluate the person who may have a depressive disorder, and use clinical evaluation methods to determine if a person has clinical depression.
3) People with depression will always require medication.
There are multiple treatment methods used for treating depression. The third stereotype that creates a negative stigma is that: "a truly depressed person will require medication".
People with depression may be prescribed medication, and he or she may not be. The most important part of treating depression is providing some type of counseling or therapy to the person in addition to other types of treatment, such as medication. A person that is only prescribed medication for depression, and are not receiving any other types of help, will not be consistently successful for great lengths of time.
4) When people try to discuss depression with an individual, it will get worse.
Trying to keep depression a secret, and not addressing the issue, may create an uncomfortable environment for the person with depression, including everyone that is part of their life.
It is critical to have the difficult conversations about the signs and symptoms that are being displayed by the person who could potentially have depression. There are times when the person may be waiting for someone who cares about them to open up the conversation, and may be demonstrating some of those behaviors as a 'cry for help'.
Depression is not a condition that will automatically improve with time, if there isn't treatments or interventions being implemented. There are times when an ongoing issue that is stressful, or traumatizing, may be one of the causes for depression, and the only way to address this is talk about it.
5) Depression is a sign of weakness.
There are people in society that view depression as a weakness, and not a medical / psychiatric mood disorder. People that are diagnosed with diabetes aren't considered to be weak, and neither should a person that is diagnosed with depression. Depression is a clinical condition that must receive treatment, as a person would receive treatment for diabetes.
People do not make the choice to become depressed, but biological, and possible hereditary factors, play a role in the condition. I was diagnosed with clinical depression at the age of 18, and then was diagnosed with bipolar II disorder at the age of 28 years old. I have overcome a lot of challenges in my life, including addiction, and consider myself to be a strong individual. I did not choose bipolar and depression, but these conditions chose me.
Depression should never be considered a weakness, but as an opportunity to either reach out for support, or provide support to increase a person's ability to manage his or her life.
How to Overcome Depression
Sheila A Myers from Elmira on September 04, 2019:
Thank you so much for correcting the stereotypes and writing about this awful illness! I have bipolar and the depression is really bad right now. I can't seem to find the right medication. I hate it so much, I'm miserable all the time and that really puts a damper on being able to raise my three boys properly by myself I just don't know where to go from here. I have even been having suicidal thoughts, but don't worry I wouldn't act upon them because I have three kids that need me but the thoughts just pop in your head, you know? It's just so miserable and I feel so helpless because I can't do anything about it add affects my entire life. Anyway, thanks again and I will follow you, feel free to follow me back!
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on November 30, 2016:
Nobody chooses to be depressed, as you already mentioned. Depression is a heavy weight and the depressed deserves understanding, compassion, support and by n0 means the least, love. Thanks for listing and explaining the various categories of the disorder.