Major Depression: When Everything Feels Too Hard
Most people feel sad or depressed at times. It’s a normal reaction to loss or life's struggles. But when intense sadness -- including feeling helpless, hopeless, and worthless -- lasts for many days to weeks and keeps you from living your life, it may be something more than sadness. You could have clinical depression -- a treatable medical condition.
Depression is when everything feels too hard. When you feel so low that things you previously enjoyed no longer hold that same joy. Depression is more than just feeling sad. Everyone feels upset or unmotivated from time to time, but depression is more serious. It is a mood disorder characterized by prolonged feelings of sadness and loss of interest in daily activities. If these symptoms persist for a period of at least two weeks, it is considered a depressive episode
Things To Keep in Mind
- a mental illness that is recognized around the world,
- common - it affects about one in ten of us,
- something that anyone can get, and
Depression is not:
- something you can 'snap out of’,
- a sign of weakness,
- something that everyone experiences, or
- something that lasts forever as one episode.
“What is depression like? It’s like drowning, except everyone around you is breathing.”
- Feeling sad or having a depressed mood
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
- Changes in appetite — weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- Loss of energy or increased fatigue
- Increase in purposeless physical activity (e.g., hand-wringing or pacing) or slowed movements and speech (actions observable by others)
- Feeling worthless or guilty
- Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Family history – Depression can run in families and some people will be at an increased genetic risk. However, having a parent or close relative with depression doesn’t mean you’ll automatically have the same experience. Life circumstances and other personal factors are still likely to have an important influence.
- Personality – Some people may be more at risk of depression because of their personality, particularly if they have a tendency to worry a lot, have low self-esteem, are perfectionists, are sensitive to personal criticism, or are self-critical and negative.
- Serious medical illness – The stress and worry of coping with a serious illness can lead to depression, especially if you’re dealing with long-term management and/or chronic pain.
- Drug and alcohol use – Drug and alcohol use can both lead to and result from depression. Many people with depression also have drug and alcohol problems. Over 500,000 Australians will experience depression and a substance use disorder at the same time, at some point in their lives.
Depression and Anxiety Disorders: Not the Same
Depression and anxiety disorders are different, but people with depression often experience symptoms similar to those of an anxiety disorder, such as nervousness, irritability, and problems sleeping and concentrating. But each disorder has its own causes and its own emotional and behavioral symptoms.
Many people who develop depression have a history of an anxiety disorder earlier in life. There is no evidence one disorder causes the other, but there is clear evidence that many people suffer from both disorders.
Depression is as “living in a black hole” or having a feeling of impending doom. However, some depressed people don't feel sad at all—they may feel lifeless, empty, and apathetic, or men, in particular, may even feel angry, aggressive, and restless. Whatever the symptoms, depression is different from normal sadness in that it engulfs your day-to-day life, interfering with your ability to work, study, eat, sleep, and have fun. The feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and worthlessness are intense and unrelenting, with little, if any, relief.
Medications and psychotherapy are effective for most people with depression. Your primary care doctor or psychiatrist can prescribe medications to relieve symptoms. However, many people with depression also benefit from seeing a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other mental health professional.
If you have severe depression, you may need a hospital stay, or you may need to participate in an outpatient treatment program until your symptoms improve.
Antidepressants are very helpful in treatment of depression.
Antidepressants aren't considered addictive, but sometimes physical dependence (which is different from addiction) can occur.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2020 Muhammad Arslan Khan