What is Depression?
Depression is a mental disorder that distinguishes itself through an individual’s frequent or constant sad mood. Sufferers of this condition often no longer enjoy themselves during activities they once found fun or pleasurable.
Common uses of the term may indicate one of two meanings, including:
- Major depression. This represents a formally-defined psychiatric syndrome.
- Prolonged unhappiness. Although not officially diagnosed, an individual has experienced a low mood over an extended period of time.
Regardless of a person’s clinical designation, depression can cause severe mental and physical effects in individuals, leading to difficulties in various arenas, such as:
- Relationships with friends, family, and other individuals.
- One’s opinion or view of oneself.
- Physical health.
- Productivity or functions in school, work, and other responsibilities.
At its most severe, depression burdens patients with a sense of hopelessness, leading them to wonder whether life is worth living.
For thousands of years, physicians have acknowledged the symptoms of this syndrome. Knowledge of depression dates back to the time of the Greeks, who called the condition “Melancholia” and attributed it to excess bile in one’s gall bladder. Fortunately, the medical profession has made great strides in understanding its psychological and biological causes. Yet it continues to present significant dangers to patients and challenges for effective treatment.
Depression affects millions of people across the world, leading to illness and disability. In North America, the condition is more prevalent, affecting one in five Americans at least once in their lives.
What are the Symptoms?
When a person suffers from Major Depression, it causes considerable damage to their close relationships, professional or academic life, eating and sleeping habits, and overall wellbeing.
This syndrome causes individuals to feel melancholy or “blue” almost all the time, stealing pleasure in activities they once enjoyed. They may also struggle with feelings of low self-worth, as well as unnecessary guilt, self-hatred, helplessness, and hopelessness.
Additional signs a person may be depressed include:
- Excluding oneself from social events and activities.
- Experiencing a decrease in libido.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Suicidal thoughts or thoughts of dying.
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep.
- Eating significantly more or less than usual.
Physical symptoms of this condition can range from fatigue to headaches to changes in digestion. These indicate that depression is placing too much stress on the body. Loved ones may witness noticeable changes to the individual’s movements, behavior, and speech.
Depression often presents itself in conjunction with other psychiatric troubles. Co-occurring anxiety can significantly complicate recovery from a depressive illness, impacting the length, degree, and likelihood of relapse. Individuals with depression are also considerably more susceptible to drug and alcohol abuse. The condition occurs more frequently in those with chronic pain-related syndromes, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Subtypes of Depression
Major Depression is characterized by a syndrome lasting two weeks or longer that produces behavioral, emotional, and other mental symptoms. Subtypes of this condition include:
- Melancholic. These individuals wake before they have slept adequately, display lethargy, lose weight, and experience excessive guilt.
- Atypical. Signs of this subtype include excessive sleeping, weight gain, sensitivity to interpersonal rejection, and avoidance of social activities.
- Post-partum. Women who have recently given birth can develop this syndrome.
- Seasonal (SAD). As seasons change and sunlight becomes scarce, some individuals become susceptible to this illness.
Dysthymia is a long-term form of depression lasting two years or longer. Its symptoms are less severe, but treatment is more challenging.
Minor depression presents the same symptoms as a Major diagnosis, but at a less severe level. Affected individuals often require treatment for both conditions.
Adjustment disorder describes one’s psychological response to an event or change that brought about a lingering depressed mood.
What Are the Treatment Options?
The common courses of treatment for depression include psychotherapy and medication. According to research, incorporating both components into a patient’s treatment is the most effective way to reduce symptoms.
Only licensed mental health professionals may provide legitimate psychotherapy treatment. The aim of this method is to help patients reduce their suffering while helping them examine their feelings and behaviors towards themselves and others.
At Bridges to Recovery, psychotherapists use psychodynamic therapy, a specialized technique wherein the psychotherapist helps the patient identify what causes them stress. They then evaluate how these stressors relate to their development in the past.
A significant number of patients opt to include antidepressant medications, which help treat symptoms of depression. Various medication options exist for patients, who may take them with or without engaging in psychotherapy. Although a primary care physician may prescribe antidepressant medications, those not experiencing the desired results may need to consult a licensed psychiatrist, who has a more nuanced understanding of their use.
Antidepressants often work by adjusting levels of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, norepinephrine, or serotonin in the brain. Similar to psychotherapy, these medications take effect over time, often presenting positive impacts on depressive symptoms within one to two months.
Frequently Asked Questions
A great deal of information (and misinformation) exists regarding the symptoms of depression, and distinguishing fact from fiction can be challenging. For those diagnosed with depression, common questions include:
How many people have depression?
Approximately one in five Americans will become depressed at least once during their lifetimes, making it a rather common condition. Although many patients fear that others will not understand what they are experiencing, the likelihood is that you know several individuals have faced similar challenges and symptoms to your own.
Can my family doctor treat depression?
Patients often go to their primary care physicians first when experiencing depressive symptoms. These professionals may prescribe medication – and actually do so at higher rates than psychiatrists. They can also provide referrals to psychologists or psychiatrists, which becomes necessary when medication alone fails to adequately address the problem.
How long does recovery take?
Because recovery is a complex and unique process for each individual, predicting how long it will last is difficult. Both psychotherapy and medications often require several weeks or months to provide noticeable improvements. Although symptoms can linger for a long time and resist various treatment methods, patients and medical providers have access to more options than ever to help foster lasting recovery.
What will other people think about my condition?
Unfortunately, some individuals misunderstand depression and don’t see it as a true medical condition. Family and friends may express skepticism regarding your symptoms, telling you to “snap out of it.” However, scientific research into the brain’s neurochemical properties provides authoritative evidence that depression not only arises from psychological and biological factors – it also responds to treatment.
Depression Treatment at Bridges to Recovery
When depression symptoms become too difficult to manage, residential treatment becomes a viable and beneficial option for depression sufferers. By providing a structured, tranquil environment, residential treatment facilities incorporate various tools for recovery in one safe building or complex.
From individual and group therapy sessions to medication administration to close clinical monitoring, residential treatment helps those with severe depression experience intensive therapeutic relief along with others. Patients otherwise lacking the support or resources they need to recover on an outpatient basis – or those wishing to devote a certain length of time to their recovery – often receive significant results from inpatient therapy.
At Bridges to Recovery adult residential treatment center, we specialize in the effective and thorough treatment of depression. Our staff’s intensive treatment methodology evaluates and addresses each patient’s spiritual, mental, and physical condition to create and implement personalized recovery plans. Individuals whose depression is resistant to treatment – but for whom hospitalization may not be necessary – find Bridges to Recovery an ideal place to engage in rehabilitation.
Our facilities in Bel Air and Holmby Hills, California, provide hope to our patients. Our multi-disciplinary staff work with residents to create customized treatment plans to foster healthier lifestyles, including emotional, spiritual, and physical health.
At Bridges to Recovery, we integrate traditional and non-traditional forms of treatment, enhancing the recovery process with yoga, nutritional counseling, art therapy, acupuncture, and somatic therapies, such as EMDR. By separating patients from the obligations and pressures of home life, we create a nurturing and lovely atmosphere in which patients can heal.
Removing oneself from the “rat race” of modern life provides the opportunity to rest and reflect while devoting time and energy to restoration and health and well-being. If you or someone you love is currently suffering from the debilitating effects of clinical depression, contact Bridges to Recovery today to learn whether our residential treatment center is right for you.