Depression is a mood disorder that triggers a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest and trouble doing day-to-day activities. Depression can range from mild to very severe and comes in different forms or types. Clinical depression, also known as major depression or major depressive disorder, is the more severe and most serious form of depression.
You may be curious to learn more about depression and the most severe type if you or a loved one is currently suffering from this diagnosis or illness. Continue reading to learn more about what depression is in detail, the signs to be on the lookout for, the most common types of depression, and how to help yourself or a loved one manage it.
What is Depression
Depression is more than having the blues and not something you can just snap out of or a weakness. In short, depression or major depressive disorder is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, how you act, and the way you think. It may be tough or challenging for someone who doesn’t have it to understand it fully and that it’s more than simply being or feeling sad. The good news is that it’s treatable and manageable with the right approach.
Depression may cause you to feel sad over an extended period and to lose interest in activities you once enjoyed. You may notice you begin to not function as well at home and work and that you also are dealing with a variety of emotional and physical issues that start to arise. To be clinically diagnosed with depression, your symptoms must last at least two weeks and must represent a change in your previous level of functioning. While the onset of it can occur at any time throughout your life, it will most likely show up in the late teens to mid-20s age range. It’s not only present in adults but may show up in children as well. Generally speaking, women are more likely to experience depression and be diagnosed with it than men.
It’s important to note that depression is different from feeling sad or dealing with grief and bereavement. You may hear people describing themselves as depressed and feeling low when someone passes away. However, keep in mind that being sad isn’t the same as having depression. The main differences are that grief usually comes and goes in waves, your self-esteem typically stays intact, and you’re more so thinking about the other person versus ending your own life.
Risk Factors for Depression
There are several risk factors for depression that you should be aware of. There usually isn’t only one cause and typically several factors come into play with depression. You should know and realize that it can impact anyone, even if someone’s life appears to be perfect from the outside. The four following factors come into play when speaking about depression and possibly being diagnosed with it.
Some major causes of depression:
- Personality (low self-esteem or being overwhelmed by stress)
- Environmental factors (ongoing exposure to violence, neglect, and abuse)
- Genetics (it can run in families)
- Biochemistry (chemicals in your brain)
Signs of Serious Depression
As noted above, depression and the symptoms can vary from mild to severe. The following information outlines several signs of serious depression and what to be on the watch for:
- Insomnia and not sleeping or excessive sleeping/sleeping too much
- Being irritable
- Loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyable
- Thoughts of death or suicide or suicide attempts
- In very severe cases, psychotic symptoms (such as hallucinations or delusions)
- The inability to take care of oneself, such as bathing, eating, attending to family or work responsibilities and obligations
- Persistent thoughts that something bad will happen
- Loss of energy or increased fatigue
- Feeling worthless or guilty
- Hard time thinking, concentrating, and making decisions
- Problems in relationships
If you notice these signs in yourself or a loved one then you must dig deeper into them and try to get the right help for getting to a better state. Remember that these symptoms won’t be fleeting and to be diagnosed as clinical depression, then they need to last at least two weeks. There also need to be at least five symptoms present and at least one of the symptoms must be a depressed mood or loss of interest in activities. It can be challenging to get the right help because you may feel like there’s no hope but the reality is that even severe depression can be treated.
Suicidal thoughts or actions should never be taken lightly. There are several risk factors for suicide as well such as current or past history of substance abuse, family history of suicide, and feelings of hopelessness, to name a few.
Major Depression (Clinical Depression) in Detail
Clinical depression is the more severe form of depression. You may also hear it referred to as major depression or major depressive disorder. The classic depression type, major depression is a state where a dark mood is all-consuming and one loses interest in activities, even ones that are usually pleasurable. It’s important to note that it’s not depression caused by a loss, such as the death of a loved one, or a medical condition. Major depressive disorder is characterized by a constant feeling of sadness or a lack of interest in outside activities and people. You may hear these two weeks the symptoms last referred to as an episode. People will usually have multiple episodes and symptoms can occur most of the day, nearly every day during them.
You may be wondering if it’s a curable illness. The short answer is no and that it will tend to ebb and flow over your lifetime. However, with the right treatment, the symptoms of depression can be managed and lessened over time.
Tips for Living with Major Depressive Disorder
If you have major depressive disorder or know someone who does then you may be wondering what tips there are for living with it. You must understand that some days will always be easier than others. There may be times when you struggle to get out of bed, shower, and make it through the day. Other days, you may feel great and like yourself again. Either way, you must get the right help and stick to the treatment plan your doctor recommends.
The good news is that there are plenty of other steps you can take that will make each day that much easier for you. Below is a list of what you can be doing and focusing on so you can begin to live your life to the fullest even though you’re dealing with major depressive disorder.
Spend Time in Nature
Nature has a natural way of healing. Studies show that spending time in nature is good for your mental health and overall well-being. Walking around within the trees and breathing in the fresh air and feeling the sunshine will instantly boost your mood. Nature can lower levels of anxiety, depression, and stress, and help you put negative thoughts aside for the time being. It may also help you to avoid dwelling and ruminating because you’ll be focusing on the beauty that surrounds you instead.
You should also put self-care at the top of your daily to-do list so you can feel better. Do things that are just for you and that make you feel good and do them more often. For instance, you may want to cook a meal you enjoy, read a book, listen to music, or take a warm bath. Treat yourself often and don’t feel bad or guilty about making time for taking care of yourself.
Avoid Overdoing it
Another tip is to try not to do too much. Learn to say no and avoid taking on too many commitments and overdoing it. You should have downtime in your schedule and be okay with it. Stop rushing around all the time and leave some time for yourself in your days. It’s also wise to put off making key decisions when you’re feeling low or down. Wait until you feel better to think about your future and what you want to achieve.
Keep A Journal
You may also want to get in the habit of writing in a journal. Expressing your emotions and tracking your moods can be very helpful when dealing with major depressive disorder. You can let out all that you’re feeling in private and try to find solutions to problems that you’re ruminating about in your head. You may even want to write down what you’re grateful for and use your journal as a tool for practicing gratitude.
Spend Time with Others
Although you should say no sometimes to others, you also don’t want to isolate yourself. Therefore, one tip for living with this most severe type of depression is to get together with family and friends regularly, even if it’s by phone or video chat sometimes. Finding a group of people who you can talk to and who can relate to you may also help. Your goal is to avoid creating too much isolation or loneliness in your life.
One of the best ways to manage your depression is to learn more about it. You should try to stay educated on the topic and learn about these types of tips and treatment options. New studies and treatments are coming out all the time. Knowledge is power and will keep you in the driver’s seat of your life and with your illness.
These are a few of the top tips that you should keep top of mind as you try to better manage your depression and get to a better frame of mind. Be kind to yourself and go easy on yourself if some days you don’t feel like following through with them. However, remind yourself how much better you feel when you put these ideas into action and take good care of yourself.
Helping A Loved One or Yourself
There is hope for healing and feeling better. There are several treatment options available and that is worth trying when attempting to alleviate the symptoms of clinical depression. Even if the symptoms are severe, they will usually improve with psychological counseling, antidepressant medications, or a combination of the two. Seeing a psychologist and allowing them to diagnose and work with you is a wise first step in the right direction.
If you’re feeling depressed then it’s best to seek out medical attention and treatment options immediately. You don’t have to feel lonely and isolated any longer. At the Calgary Institute of Counselling, we offer depression counselling Calgary to help ease the symptoms you’re feeling to change the way you think, so you can change the way you feel. Healing cannot occur without the decrease of symptoms that distort reality. This is why it is important to seek out Calgary counselling.
You now have a better idea and know more about the most serious forms of depression. This information will help you recognize if you or a loved one may be dealing with this type of depression and the signs to be on the lookout for. You also now have an idea of what treatment options exist and where to get help. Keep in mind that while it can be treated, it may be a long and challenging road to feeling better and you may not feel like yourself again right away.
Be patient and give the treatment and path to recovery a chance to work. You’ll be glad you did once you see how well you’re doing and functioning after some time passes. Stay hopeful that you or someone you know with major depressive disorder can feel better and have an improved quality of life. What’s most important is that you open up and talk about how you’re feeling and the illness, instead of trying to hide from it or ignore it.