The Various Forms And Faces Of Depression

Various types of depression

There are many different types of depression that fall under the “clinical depression” umbrella that millions of people suffer from every day. Clinical depression is more than just a general sense of sadness that most people experience at different times during their lives, but it is an illness that can severely disrupt and affect someone’s everyday life and activities.

Clinical depression involves a combination of depression symptoms that last at least two weeks that disrupt a person’s normal routine or well being, such as not wanting to leave the house, sleeping the day away and total withdrawal or isolation from family and friends to name some examples. General sadness usually subsides after a few days or a couple of weeks but anything longer lasting might be cause for concern and professional help may be advisable.

Some of the different types of depression include major depression, seasonal depression, bipolar disorder, psychotic depression, dysthymia, postpartum depression and atypical depression. Below is a quick rundown of some of these various types of depression.

Major Depression

Major depression refers to a change in a person’s mood that directly disrupts and affects once normal activities such as sleep, working, appetite and eating habits and loss of interest in sex or hobbies. It is usually characterized by irritability and loss of interest. A person suffering a major depression episode loses the ability or is extremely limited in their ability to function normally. Physical symptoms usually manifest themselves and may include insomnia, weight gain or loss, fatigue, agitation and trouble thinking clearly or concentrating.

People may suffer just one major depressive episode in their lives but multiple episodes are not uncommon. According the National Institute for Mental Health, just under 7% of US adults are affected by major depression. Women suffer major depression almost twice as much as men although it can affect anyone from children to the elderly.

Seasonal Depression

This is basically what it sounds like, depression that occurs during certain parts of the year, usually winter when there is less daylight and more hours of darkness. Known as Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD) most people just think of it as “winter blues”. Long cold winter nights can cause some people to develop this type of disorder. It can be severe and treatment should be sought if a pattern is noticed.

Bipolar Disorder

Formerly referred to as manic depression, bipolar disorder is characterized by episodes of severe depression that can alternate with episodes of extreme elation or excited happiness known as mania. The depression suffered by those with bipolar disorder is often called “bipolar depression”. The mood changes with bipolar disorder cycle between the extreme highs of mania and the extreme lows of depression. The cycling can be rapid in some cases but most of the time it happens gradually.

Bipolar depression may include any or all of the common signs of depression. Bipolar mania can manifest itself in the form of hyperactivity, fast talking and extreme elation.

Psychotic Depression

A person suffering from psychotic depression shows the usually symptoms of depression, in addition they also may suffer from hallucinations or delusions. They may hear or see things that aren’t actually real or may have irrational fears or thoughts. A significant break from reality may occur. Around 25% of patients admitted to a hospital for depression suffers from psychotic depression. Unlike people who suffer from schizophrenia, a mental illness that also involves a break from reality, those suffering from psychotic depression realize their delusions or hallucinations are not real. This causes a sense of shame and causes them to try and hide their illness which makes a proper diagnosis that much harder.

Dysthymia

This is a less severe type of depression, however it may last for years. People who suffer from dysthymia typically are able to function normally however they may feel unimportant, displeased, sullen or generally disconcerted. This is often referred to as melancholia. Dysthymia sufferers are usually unaware of their condition. General anti-depressants can usually significantly help those with this disorder.

Postpartum Depression

This involves mothers who have an episode of major depression within one month of giving birth. While it is a normal occurrence for new mothers to have what is known as “baby blues” which is less serious, nearly 10% will have a more serious depressive episode and develop postpartum depression. It is often tied to the chemical (hormonal) and psychological adjustments associated with having a baby.

Atypical Depression

This type of depression may be harder to diagnose since a person with atypical depression may experience few of the common symptoms of depression while also having periods of normal mental balance. Someone with atypical depression may return to a normal mental state with the influence of positive outside factors such as personal success. They can be brought out of a depressive state with a job promotion for example whereas this would have no affect on someone suffering from a typical major depressive episode. Some experts believe this form of depression goes underdiagnosed due to this factor.

As you can see, there are quite a few different types of depression each with their own set of criteria, and in some cases, some extra set of symptoms. You should never self-diagnose a mental illness but rather leave it to a trained mental health professional. If you or a loved one are concerned that you may be suffering from some type of depression you are encouraged to seek the help of a mental health care provider in your area. Reaching out for help is often the hardest step to take, but it also the most important step to take

How Diet Can Affect Depression

broccoliFor milder cases of depression, something as simple as improving your diet can have a profound effect on how you feel. The old saying “Eat Better, Feel Better” actually has a lot of validity when it comes to mental health improvement. Depression and diet can have a cause and effect relationship that can go both ways. A poor diet can negatively impact the severity of depression, and conversely, depression can poorly influence healthy eating habits. Proper nutrition is a key component to living a fruitful and well balanced life that have a host of benefits for the body and the mind.

Negative Impacts of Depression on Nutrition

There are a number of ways in which depression can adversely affect dietary habits. It can cause loss of appetite, or the opposite, over indulgence. It can also have secondary affects with fluid intake such as not drinking enough proper fluids or even alcohol abuse.

It is quite common for those going through a depressive episode to neglect to take care of themselves in some fashion, and diet is no exception. Not feeling like eating, or taking the minimum amount of effort to fix something easy and quick to eat can lead to nutrient deficiency. Eating a lot of “comfort food” that is not particularly nutritious can lead to problems over time as well. Some folks going through depression may also over indulge in fatty foods or sweets to help cope with their feelings.

How Proper Nutrition Can Help

While proper eating and dietary habits are not a cure for depression, it can help lessen some of the symptoms and it is recommended by some doctors as part of their overall treatment. Being at a healthy weight and proper eating can have subtle benefits that can help those trying to get through their depression.

WebMd has a great write up on diet and depression tips for those looking for help and which foods, vitamins and nutrients can be most beneficial.

But I Don’t Feel Like Cooking

This is a common problem for those stuck in the middle of being depressed. You just don’t feel like doing anything and the last thing you may seem to want to do is cook a healthy meal. There are, however, easy ways around this with simple, time efficient recipes that can enable you to prepare a fast and healthy meal. The key, at the start, is to find things that don’t seem like much of a hassle. You want to find convenient ways to develop healthy eating habits. Preparing homemade meals is the important because you have control over the ingredients and you create dishes that are not only good for you, but they will be something that you enjoy eating.

Toaster ovens are perfect for this task. If you haven’t looked lately, today’s countertop ovens have really come a long way and they are not just for toast any more. They have full cooking, baking, broiling and, of course, toasting functionalities. The beauty of these smaller ovens is they take less time to preheat, cooking time is usually slightly less and the food comes out just about as evenly done as a full sized oven. Not only do they save time, but they also save on energy consumption.  Reviews of countertop toaster ovens also reveal how well they perform for people looking to transform their diet and the way that they cook for their family.  These can be really helpful in the kitchen.

With a good oven it is possible to cook healthy, save time and have something that can benefit both your physical and mental health. It is something very simple, but it is usually the small things that can create the biggest changes.

Importance of Hydration

While it is easy to neglect the quality of the food that you while depressed, it is also possible to ignore getting the right amount of fluids. Over consumption of sugary drinks or alcoholic beverage can also make matters worse. Staying properly hydrated is just as important as eating correctly.

Those suffering through any sort of depression should pay closer attention on their current diet. Improvements in this are can have very helpful benefits in a wide variety of ways for the body.  Below is a fantastic video showing the results of new research about the link between depression and implementing an improved diet.

Chronic Pain and Depression

Help with depression caused by chronic painThose suffering conditions that produce prolonged bouts of chronic pain are more prone to developing depression. Constantly having to deal with pain on a day to day, hour to hour or even minute to minute basis can have a profound effect on a person’s psyche and mental state. Extreme frustration, anger, helplessness and hopelessness may develop in patients who have to undergo living with any disorder, illness or injury that has left them in a state of pain.

Pain may interfere with a person’s ability to perform regular routines and activities of daily living. As the pain progress in severity and intensity, the person may experience depression as they may no longer be able to function the way they want or expected to. Feelings of uselessness may creep up. Depression for chronic pain patients does not really occur overnight. It usually starts with characteristics such as crying and depressed moods until it eventually develops and manifests the symptoms of major depression which includes anhedonia or the inability to experience any pleasure, lack of appetite for food and inability to sleep at night or insomnia.

Chronic pain may also cause depression if the source of the pain, illness or disorder, has a risk of death associated with it. Most terminally ill patients say that they are living each day in fear, feeling as if they might die the next hour or so. Cancer, for example, is one illness which can cause long term pain. The risk of developing depression among cancer patients is very high as patients may feel that the time for their death is looming. In most cases, this fear of death leads to long term depression and apprehension.

Another condition known as phantom limb pain, the pain sensation from an amputated extremity, provides chronic pain which results to long term depression. It is experienced by a number of post operative patients, no matter what age, gender and race. What makes phantom limb pain worse is it is psychological in nature. It is usually managed by placebo drugs. However, physicians also prescribe pain medications as the “phantom “pain is considered as something real by the patient. Fibromyalgia sufferers also are at an elevated risk of developing clinical depression.

Can Depression Make Pain Worse?

Pain can definitely makes depression worse, however, some studies have also shown that depression can actually make pain worse. When a patient with chronic pain experiences depression the psychological symptoms can disrupt proper eating and sleeping routines and brain cells do not function properly as well. This can interfere with the brain’s ability to produce natural pain killing chemicals, making the pain sensation more severe and intensified.

The best way to prevent depression associated with chronic pain is through early and effective pain management methods. Pain medications are usually given round the clock to prevent any pain sensation to the client. Handling the physical pain symptoms can significantly reduce the propensity of depression from occurring. However, even if pain management methods are being performed, patients may still develop depression. Antidepressant medications and other therapeutic pain managements are usually indicated for patients who are already experiencing depression to prevent progression of the condition.

Before taking any type of antidepressant it is important to inform the prescribing physician of all other medications being taken to avoid any dangerous drug interactions. If prescribed any type of depression medication it is also important to take the dosages outlined by the doctor. Any side effects are problems should be reported immediately.

It is important for any patient that has suffered an injury (back, neck, bone etc.) illness, or health condition that has left them experiencing pain on a regular basis to be aware how it can also affect their mental state and puts them at a higher risk of developing depression or other mental health disorders. Pain can be debilitating, both physical and psychological, and often times improving one can help improve the other. Communication with your doctor is always key and it can be extremely beneficial to inform them of not just your physical pain but of the mental toll it may taking on you as well.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Basics

ptsdThe development of modern warfare has seen an increase in the effects on individuals after the event. However, despite the common occurrence of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in military personnel, PTSD is a serious disorder that can affect anyone of any age dealing with a significant trauma in their life. Most people, at some point in their lives, will experience traumatic events, but only a small percentage of these will become affected by PTSD. The symptoms are similar to how a majority of people react to trauma, but the difference is in duration. Usually symptoms will abate within a few weeks, but it is characterized by the enduring symptoms that last for a month or more. Sometimes the disorder will not start to develop until several months after the trigger event.

What is PTSD?

Understanding post-traumatic stress disorder and how it differs from other conditions is important in helping an individual deal with the disorder. It is classified as a type of anxiety disorder, and those affected will display similar symptoms to those with anxiety and depression.

After a traumatic event, many people experience what is known as an acute stress response. This is a more short-term response and more common, but if symptoms last longer than a month and significantly affect work and home life, it may be PTSD.

Causes of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

As previously mentioned, PTSD is commonly associated with soldiers returning from war, but in reality any number of traumatic events can trigger the development of the disorder. Physical, mental, or sexual abuse, particularly over a long duration, is linked to the development of post-traumatic stress disorder, particularly in children. Accidents, such as car or plane crashes, fires, etc., and terminal illness diagnosis are other significant triggers. Severe natural disasters, including tsunamis, hurricanes, and earthquakes have a major link to PTSD in those affected and also the service workers called to respond to the disaster.

These types of experiences are truly traumatic, but not everyone who experiences events like these will develop PTSD. Other factors, including a neurobiological predisposition and psychological history, can determine the onset and severity of PTSD. While there is still a lot of different speculation on this front, doctors have determined several factors related to hormone levels and genetic conditions that may have an affect.

Symptoms of PTSD

There are two main symptom groups for individuals suffering from PTSD: the physical and the mental/emotional. The physical responses are similar to those of anxiety disorders such as:

– Disrupted sleep or irregular sleep patterns
– Elevated heartbeat
– Nausea
– Sweating
– Tension (including aches and pains)
– Irregular breathing

The emotional responses can be the more disturbing and disruptive of the symptoms associated with PTSD. These can include:

– Vivid flashbacks and nightmares
– Increased anxiety and unease
– Loss of interest in everyday tasks and hobbies
– Difficulty concentrating
– Emotional detachment
– Alcohol and drug abuse

Treatment Options

After a traumatic event occurs, there are several preventative treatments that might inhibit the development of post-traumatic stress disorder. Immediately following an event, psychological debriefing is often used to help the individual understand what happened. This form of treatment is very common in disasters, accidents, and warfare, but the ultimate success is under debate by medical professionals. Low levels of cortisol are linked to the development of PTSD, so a treatment of cortisol may be effective.

Once post-traumatic stress disorder has been diagnosed, a number of treatment options exist to help the individual affected. Medications are commonly prescribed to help ameliorate the physical symptoms, though these seem to be most effective when used with other forms of treatment. Individual counseling helps to deal with thoughts pertaining to the trauma and coping with how suffering from PTSD has affected daily life. Many professionals also recommend family therapy and support groups to emphasize the individuals are not alone and help better the stresses placed on families dealing with a member with PTSD.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a very serious condition, but with proper care and treatment, individuals can hope to return eventually to a normal pattern of life. While this is often associated with soldiers coming back from combat, anyone who has gone through a traumatic, extremely stressful event may suffer from its effects.  The development of PTSD is a result of a number of factors and does not result from a lack of bravery or an inability to cope.