What is Depression?

Depressive DisorderDepression is a common and serious medical condition that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think, and how you act. The good news is that depression treatable. Depression can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function both at work and at home.

Depression affects 20% of all women, 10% of all men, and 5% of all adolescents worldwide. According to the World Health Organization, it is the second most common psychiatric problem in the U.S. Depression affects more than 300 million people worldwide.

Diagnostic Criteria

The DSM-5 outlines the following criterion to make a diagnosis of depression. The individual must be experiencing five or more symptoms during the same 2-week period and at least one of the symptoms should be either (1) depressed mood or (2) loss of interest or pleasure.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Feelings of sadness 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 staying asleep 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

These symptoms must last at least two weeks for a diagnosis of depression to be made accurately. The symptoms must also not be a result of substance abuse or another medical condition.

Risk Factors

  • Biochemistry: The chemical makeup in our brains can sometimes contribute to symptoms of depression.
  • Genetics – Depression is found to be hereditary.
  • Personality – An individual who has low self-esteem, who is easily overwhelmed by stress, or who is generally pessimistic have shown to be more likely to experience depression.
  • Environmental factors – Prolonged exposure to situations such as violence, neglect, abuse or poverty can potentially make some people more vulnerable to depression.

Types of Depressive Disorders

  • Depressive Reaction – temporary depression that results from a specific life stress. Sometimes the symptoms can be severe but typically do not require medication and abate over time.
  • Major Depression – a much more serious condition that can lead to suicide or an inability to perform daily activities. Not only does the person have a depressed mood but also loss of interest in hobbies, extreme fatigue, difficulty sleeping, and feelings of helplessness.
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder – More commonly referred to as SAD, seasonal depression or winter depression, those with this disorder experience symptoms similar to depression. mood changes and symptoms similar to depression. The symptoms usually occur during the fall and winter months when there is less sunlight. Their symptoms usually improve in of spring and summer.

How PFBH Can Help

Depression is a real illness and help is available. With the proper diagnosis and treatment program, most people with depression will overcome it. If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, help is available. Our depression treatment program in the Atlanta area utilizes a variety of modalities with a framework consisting of cognitive behavior therapy, resilience training, mindfulness, and more. Contact us today.