“I have experienced loss before, and spent months grieving, but that did not prepare me for depression. If you think depression is just a severe kind of sadness, you have not been in its grasp. It is a state of being in which life feels utterly pointless and it is a struggle just to be alive. I believed that nothing could bring me out of this state of despair, as everything my thoughts told me seemed perfectly reasonable and happiness seemed like a cruel joke. Fortunately, my partner convinced me that depression could be effectively treated, otherwise, I might not have even tried.”
When you’re suffering from depression, your experience feels, unlike normal transient emotions. You experience an intense sadness or lowness that impacts your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and continues for a period of days, weeks, or months. It may feel all-encompassing and lead to changes in sleep, appetite, concentration, and energy. You do not enjoy the things that usually give you pleasure, and you feel little to no motivation to attend to personal or professional tasks.
Depression can feel frightening, as it is not always easy to identify what is causing it. Whereas losing something or someone may lead to sadness, depression can seem to come out of nowhere. One day you felt fine, and the next you found yourself struggling to get out of bed. This is because depression is not one feeling, but a complex response to changes in brain chemicals, as well as a range of overwhelming emotions. It can come out of nowhere, or it can be triggered by life events.
You’re not alone. More than 17 million Americans suffer from depression. With treatment, using medication, therapy, or a combination of the two, you can recover and learn to prevent future episodes.
There are different types of depression.
Atypical depression refers to a persistent low mood, often accompanied by low motivation, over-sleeping, over-eating, or other common symptoms of depression. However, people suffering from atypical depression may find their mood improved temporarily by a positive event.
Atypical depression is commonly listed towards the end of lists of types of depression. However, this may lead some to believe that what they are suffering with is not “bad enough” to be depression. Contrary to its name, atypical depression is not uncommon but was simply identified after other types of depression.
You may have major depression if you experience a low mood most of the time on most days. Major depression makes it very difficult to function on a day-to-day basis, as you struggle with low motivation, fatigue, feelings of worthlessness, over-sleeping or difficulty sleeping, and difficulty experiencing pleasure. You might also feel guilty for your lack of motivation and decreased ability to function “as normal”. Chances are you believe that the depression is your own fault.
Major depression can become very severe and it might feel unbearable. It can cause you to wonder how you will get through the day, cause terrible agitation, and lead to suicidal thoughts. It can be treated with medication and therapy.
Adjustment Disorder (Situational Depression)
Otherwise known as situational depression, adjustment disorder refers to depression that occurs during a stressful or troubling period of life. While sadness and low mood may be a typical response, adjustment disorder is characterized by the symptoms of major depression and can be treated with medication and therapy.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) refers to depression that occurs over a particular season (usually winter). It can be treated with antidepressants, therapy, and light therapy which mimics the effects of the sunlight lacking during the short, gloomy days.
Many women experience peripartum or postpartum depression during and after pregnancy. This can be very troubling, especially as many mothers believe they should be happy and energetic at the start of motherhood. However, it is common and does not correlate with particular feelings or beliefs about parenting. On the contrary, it impacts even the healthiest feelings and beliefs about parenting, and these should be explored in therapy.