Depression is a serious mental health condition that affects many people. The 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Mental Health estimates that 16 million people aged 18 or older had at least one major depressive episode, which occurs when a person experiences at least five symptoms of depression over at least a two-week timespan. Although this number suggests that about seven percent of the American adult population struggles with depression each year, the disorder is still not universally understood as a serious but treatable disease. Because of this lack of understanding about depression, combined with fears of appearing weak and irrational, many people hide the fact that they are struggling with depression. Hiding depression can be extremely dangerous, though, as it can potentially lead to even more serious health problems if left untreated.
Types of Depressive Disorders
A person can experience one or more different types of depression. As John M. Grohol explains, these types, called depressive disorders, include:
- Major depression: the most common type of depressive disorder that exhibits multiple symptoms.
- Dysthymia: a milder form of depression featuring chronic and long-term symptoms.
- Bipolar disorder: in this disorder, the person experiences both extreme highs and lows, and can switch between them either quickly or gradually.
Symptoms of Depression
When a person has a depressive disorder, she will likely feel very sad. But what a lot of people don’t realize is that depression involves much more than feelings of sadness.
John M. Grohol also lists the following additional symptoms of depressive disorders:
- Problems with concentration, memory and making decisions
- Decreased energy and increased fatigue
- Loss of hope
- Restlessness and irritability
- Suicidal thoughts
- Feelings of emptiness
- Intense sense of guilt, helplessness and worthlessness
- Loss of interest in activities that the person used to enjoy
- Physical symptoms that continue despite treatment
- Drastic change in sleep patterns
- Appetite change
Each of these symptoms can be serious on their own, but when they combine together, they often intensify each other and make the person feel even worse. When a person suspects that she is suffering from depression, she should immediately seek professional help. Many people don’t ask for help with this condition, though, because they are afraid of being labeled as an instable person who is unable to manage their emotions.
Complications from Depression
Keeping this disorder a secret puts a great amount of stress on a person’s body. The Mayo Clinic states that the following complications can result from depression:
- Other mental health conditions, such as anxiety or panic disorder
- Substance abuse
- Conflicts with family, friends and coworkers
- Social isolation
- Excessive weight gain, which increase a person’s chances of developing heart disease and diabetes
- Suicide attempts
Benefits of Getting Professional Help with Depression
While hiding depression can threaten a person’s health and well-being, talking about it openly and getting professional help with it can allow the person to receive the treatment he needs and get his life back under control. Each symptom of depression can be treated effectively with either medication, behavioral therapy or a combination of the two. Additionally, discussing depression with others can help change the public attitude about the disorder and help people see that the disorder is like any other disease that is best dealt with honestly and with the guidance of professionals.
Where to Get More Information About Depression Treatment
Although many people with depression are afraid or embarrassed to admit that they are suffering, the reality is that depression is a very common mental health condition that millions of people struggle with each year. If you or a loved one is dealing with depression and thinking about getting professional help, give us a call at 615-490-9376.