Depression can be described quite simply: a state where there are too few positive emotions, and too many negative ones. This is a burden—it makes it harder to function at home and at work. During October, World Mental Health day puts the focus on this common yet serious condition. Let’s take a moment to raise awareness about depression—and see the many ways to recover from it.
The defining feature of a major depression is loss of pleasure. A major depression includes a greater, often debilitating, sense of grief and guilt. This can be incapacitating.
There can be some obvious signals in people who are depressed such as:
Lack of self-care, including appearance and hygiene
Disrupted sleeping and eating
Loss of interest in sex and connection with other people
The American Psychiatry Association lists symptoms, which range from mild to severe. For depression to be diagnosed, symptoms must have lasted for 2 weeks or more. And just how common is depression? The Association estimates that 1 in 15 people have depression during any given year and that 1 in 6 will have it at some point in life.
What makes a person more likely to have depression? Differences in brain chemicals, your family history, personality traits (low self-esteem, low resilience, pessimism), and experiencing poverty, abuse, neglect, or violence are all factors that may lead to depression.
Linking Stress and Depression
Stress and depression tend to go together.
People who are undergoing a lot of life stressors are more likely than average to have a major depression. Changes in family life, health, work, or where you live are some typical stressors.
People who are prone to depression tend to experience stressors more strongly and at a higher than expected rate.
Lack of social support, in particular, can be a challenge on top of some of the brain and hormone changes that are linked to depression.
So, what’s the next step if you suspect you or a loved one is dealing with depression? A visit to your doctor for a diagnosis is important, to rule out other medical problems. Treatments are effective, including medications, talk therapy, and exercise and other self-care practices. In fact, many people find the best relief when they use all three methods.