Everyone has had periods in their life where they feel sad and unhappy. For most individuals, these feelings are temporary and generally go away rather quickly. However, for a certain population of individuals, these feelings can last for days or even weeks, creating a large impact on daily life.
Learn More About Depression
Due to the lack of motivation associated with depression individuals are often unable to complete the simplest tasks. The negative consequences that result will only make the depression worse.
During periods of depression individuals may experience agitation, restlessness, and have an overall sense of hopelessness. Some individuals may feel so down that they stay in bed and sleep all the time because the thought of crawling out from under the covers seems impossible. This overwhelming sense of hopelessness leaves individuals feeling lost and alone, thinking that nothing will ever get better. Additionally, those suffering from depression may slowly begin to become isolated as they stop reaching out to family and friends. Activities that were once enjoyed are no longer given any thought. Depression leaves an individual in a lifeless world, however, we can help.
Statistics of Depression
For adults in the U.S. the 12 month prevalence rate for this disorder is estimated at 7%. Of these cases 30.4% (2% of the adult population) are suffering from severe depression. These rates may not be completely accurate however, since women are far more likely to report symptoms of depression compared to men.
Age differences have also been observed in depression. Those 60 years and older have the lowest rate of depression, while 18-29 year olds are at a 70% greater risk to develop depression. 30-34 year olds are at 12% greater risk, while 45-59 year olds are at 10% greater risk for developing depression.
Learn About Co-Occurring Disorders
Often individuals with depression also have additional co-occurring disorder. The most frequently co-occurring conditions include:
- Panic disorder
- Social anxiety
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Borderline personality disorder
- Substance abuse disorders
- Anorexia nervosa
- Bulimia nervosa
Causes of Depression
While there are some causes associated with depression, it’s recognized that there is no individual cause that explains all cases of depression. It’s more likely that multiple factors interact to causes depression.
Genetic: Depression tends to run in families. Depression is more common in individuals whose biological family members who have also had this disorder. This suggests that there may be a single gene that is responsible for the development of depression.
Brain Chemicals: Individuals who are experiencing depression have been shown to have chemical differences in the brain. Neurotransmitters are linked to mood and therefore are thought to play a role in the development of depression. Insufficient levels of neurotransmitters can affect mood and cause depression. Changes in the body’s hormone levels may also be involved in causing or triggering depression. Hormone changes can be the result of thyroid problems, menopause, or other conditions.
Brain Structure: Brain imaging studies have shown that certain structures in the brain appear different than structures in individuals without depression. Specifically, certain areas of the brain that are associated with sleeping, thinking, mood states, appetite, and behavioral inhibition do not seem the same way as they do in those without depression.
Environmental: Certain life events that are highly stressful such as the death of a loved one or financial problems can trigger depression in some individuals. When individuals experience numerous stressors, they may come to believe they have no control over negative events in their lives. Additionally, traumatic experiences in early childhood may cause permanent changes in the brain that make them more susceptible to depression in later life.
Signs and Symptoms of Depression
There are a number of different symptoms that may be present in those with depression. The widespread variety of these symptoms helps explain why the effects of the illness can be so devastating.
- Depressed mood almost all the time for at least two weeks
- Inability to experience pleasure in almost all activities in an individual’s life
- Feeling insignificant
- Feeling useless
- Feelings of emptiness
- Pessimistic about the future
- Helplessness regarding the ability to alter a negative future
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Socially withdrawn
- Estrangement close friends and family
- Difficulty experiencing empathy
- Increased time sleeping
- Loss of motivation
- Loss of energy
- Reckless behavior
- Angry outbursts
- Crying spells
- Increase or decrease in weight
- Motoric agitation or retardation
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Lack of interest in sex or sexual dysfunction
- Decreased speech production or answering question with monosyllables
- Difficulty remembering details
- other memory problems
- Inability to concentrate
- Trouble with decision making
- Dependent on others
- Excessive or inappropriate self-blame
Effects of Depression
Given the variety of symptoms, the effects of depression on an individual’s life can vary widely. Some of the more frequent effects include:
- Substance abuse
- Work or school problems
- Family conflicts
- Relationship problems
- Lack of an adequate social support network
- Depressed Immune system leading to physical disorders and conditions
- Poor hygiene
- Suicidal thoughts or actions
- Increased need for health care