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How is depression different from normal sadness?

Common facts about depression include that it’s normal to feel sad or blue sometimes, but in most cases, these feelings are only temporary. When sadness starts to interfere with your ability to lead a normal life, that’s a sign that you may have clinical depression, also known as major depression.

Facts about depression: Different types

Major depression, also known as unipolar depression, unipolar disorder, or clinical depression, is characterized by severe symptoms that impair a person’s ability to live a happy, productive life. A person may only experience one instance of major depression, or it may re-emerge several times throughout their life, known as recurrent depression or recurrent major depression. Important facts about depression of this type of major depression is that it is marked by a persistent sense of feeling “down,” often accompanied by a lack of interest in normal activities and feelings of low self-esteem.

Persistent depressive disorder is characterized by a low mood that continues for a period of at least two years. Some facts about depression of the persistent type, previously called dysthymic disorder, is that people experience a moderate sense of sadness which may also be accompanied by periods of major depression. Dysthymia or dysthymic disorder, now called persistent depressive disorder, is a form of chronic depression.

There are some facts about depression types are less common or occur only under certain circumstances, including:

  • Bipolar depression occurs within a bipolar disorder (sometimes also known as manic-depressive disorder) and involves frequent mood swings between the extreme lows of major depression and the extreme highs, known as manic episodes. Bipolar disorder, depressed type, is less common than other types of depression.
  • Postpartum depression sometimes occurs with new mothers as a result of physical and hormonal changes and the stress of caring for a new baby. Postpartum depression is more severe than the “baby blues” that affect many new mothers.
  • Psychotic depression is a type of severe depression accompanied by some type of psychosis, which may include delusions, hallucinations, or persistent disturbing thoughts.
  • Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is a type of depression that occurs primarily in the winter months due to the lack of natural light.

What does depression look and feel like?

Every individual with a depressive disorder is different, and symptoms will vary according to the individual and their specific illness. Some common facts about depression symptoms include:

  • Feeling sad or anxious on a regular basis
  • Feeling pessimistic or hopeless
  • Feeling helpless, worthless, or guilty
  • Lack of interest in normal activities
  • Feeling tired and run-down
  • Having trouble making decisions, remembering information, and concentrating
  • Having trouble falling asleep or waking up in the morning, or sleeping too much or too little
  • Feeling restless or irritable
  • Lack of appetite or excessive appetite
  • Physical aches and pains, digestive problems, or headaches not caused by a physical condition
  • Feeling suicidal or attempting suicide

What other disorders may accompany depression?

Depression often co-exists with other mental and emotional disorders, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, social phobia, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Researchers from the National Institute of Mental Health have reported facts about depression that include greater than 40% of individuals with PTSD also experienced depression within four months after the traumatizing event. Research has also shown that substance abuse and mood disorders like depression often co-exist. Additionally, depression can occur with many other symptoms, such as nervousness or fearfulness,that do not necessarily meet the criteria for an anxiety disorder, but are clearly anxiety symptoms.  Depression may also accompany serious physical conditions like chronic pain, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, cancer, and stroke.

Depression is common, but should still be taken seriously. Most individuals with depression need treatment in order to improve their symptoms. Because our treatment for depression relies on evidence based practices, our Intensive Outpatient Program shares many common methods with other successful treatment methods.  The foundation of our treatment program for relies on the principles of the stages of change, cognitive behavioral therapy, solution focused treatment, skills training and identifying repetitive dysfunctional behavioral relationship patterns to promote recovery from depression and other mental health disorders.  In fact, our Intensive Outpatient Program in Memphis, TN that has been proven to be effective in the treatment of these disorders in six peer reviewed treatment outcome studies.   Our treatment center provides services to those who need more treatment than one hour a week, but less than 24 hour care, by providing three hours of treatment per day, three to five days per week, in an intensive outpatient setting.  If you or a loved one is showing signs of depression or anxiety, they should be assessed by a trained mental health professional who can help design a treatment plan for depression that can result in recovery.  Treatment for depression and anxiety can be highly successful.  Call us at 901-682-6136 to schedule an appointment.