Sadness and feeling down are normal feelings everyone experiences from time to time. These feelings can last for several days, varying in intensity. Some people may describe these feelings as depression, but sadness and diagnosable depression are very different things.
What Is Depression?
It is different than feeling sad or down over life’s difficult situations, such as losing a job or having relationship problems. This condition can sneak up on a person. At first, a person may think their sadness is just a case of the blues and shrug it off as temporary. But if their feelings have been persistent almost every day for two weeks or longer, they may have clinical depression, also called major depressive disorder.
General Signs and Symptoms
A mood disorder, depression does not affect everyone in the same way. Women, men, children, and teens can experience the symptoms differently. Symptoms can vary in how long they last, their severity, and how often they happen.
It causes people to experience overwhelming and relentless feelings of sadness, discouragement, hopelessness, worthlessness, or emptiness. They may feel pessimistic, angry, anxious, bothered, or annoyed. Often, they lack motivation or lose interest in activities and things they once enjoyed. They may talk or move more slowly, cry a lot, have decreased energy, or be fatigued.
Additional signs and symptoms of depression include:
- Difficulty concentrating, thinking, remembering, or making decisions
- Problems falling asleep, staying asleep, oversleeping, or awakening very early in the morning
- Changes in eating patterns, overeating, binge eating, not eating, weight loss or gain
- Chronic physical pain that does not have a clear cause and does not improve with treatment, such as stomach pains, cramps, digestive problems, headaches, body aches or pains
If you or someone you care about experiences several of the above symptoms or signs of depression nearly all day, almost every day for at least 2 weeks, the person should seek professional treatment. If you or someone you love has thoughts of self-harm, suicide, or death, or has attempted suicide, seek help immediately.
What Are the Types of Major Depressive Disorder?
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) explains the types of major depression.
- Postpartum Depression: After giving birth to a baby, some women may suffer from postpartum. It causes long-lasting, intense feelings of sadness, anxiety, and fatigue. Postpartum depression makes it very difficult for new mothers to care for their babies and themselves. They struggle to handle their day-to-day responsibilities. This type of depression can begin weeks or months after giving birth.
- Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): The cause of this type of clinical depression is the changing seasons. It is most common in the fall and winter when the days are shorter and it gets darker earlier.
- Psychotic Depression: This type occurs with psychosis and includes hallucinations or delusional thinking. Hallucinations mean a person hears, sees, or feels things that are not there. Delusions are having an unshakable belief in something that is not true.
- Melancholic Depression: A severe type, melancholic depression occurs when an individual loses all pleasure in almost everything.
Are there Other Types of Depression?
The Cleveland Clinic lists four depressive disorders in addition to clinical depression:
- Persistent depressive disorder (PDD): Lasting two years or longer, persistent depressive disorder can be moderate or mild. The symptoms of PDD are not as severe as clinical depression. This depression used to be known as PDD dysthymia.
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD): When a woman suffers from a premenstrual dysphoric disorder, she has mood symptoms, such as extreme depression, irritability, or anxiety with premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Within a few days of her period beginning, symptoms improve. But when they are happening, symptoms can be so severe they interfere with daily life.
- Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (DMDD): Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder affects children. It causes them to have frequent anger outbursts and intense, chronic irritability. The symptoms of DMDD generally begin by the time the child is 10.
- Depressive disorder due to another medical condition: Serious medical conditions, such as cancer, heart disease, or Parkinson’s disease, can cause changes in the person’s body that can lead to this type. If the underlying medical condition is treatable and improves, their depression also does.
Depression and Addiction
Many people who suffer from depression also suffer from a substance use disorder. Sometimes they self-medicate by using drugs or alcohol to gain temporary relief from it. Over time, they become dependent on the substance and addiction develops. When a person has a mental health disorder, along with a substance use disorder, it is a co-occurring disorder.
Help Is Available
If you or someone you care about struggles with addiction or a co-occurring disorder, help is available. Contact Canyon Vista Recovery Center in Mesa, Arizona, and learn how to take back control of your life.