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All About Depression, Therapy for Depression, and other FAQs

Depression is a nasty little bugger. And it’s not always quite so little. In fact, depression can be rather large. And heavy. And long-lasting.

Other times, it’s subtle. Covert. Sneaky.

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Regardless of the severity of it, it’s really important to understand how real it is. And how invasive it can be in your life. This is important because it may encourage you to reach out for help sooner, or cut yourself some slack, or put into place some behaviors that can help curtail some of the negative effects of depression symptoms.

Conversely, it may help you recognize that someone else in your life is depressed, and give you some insight on how to talk to them about it. In fact, we have a whole blog post on 8 Signs Your Friend is Depressed (it’s actually quite viral if that says anything about the information people are looking for about depression and how it shows up in day-to-day life) as well as a blog on 10 Ways to Support a Friend While They’re Depressed.

Here is What the WHO Says About Depression

The WHO estimates that, globally, 5% of adults suffer from depression. Now, as a percentage and depending on how you orient yourself to numbers, 5% may seem small. Not that bad. But if you stop and think about it, that means 5 in every 100 people know from first-hand experience what depression feels like. That’s a lot of people! And to put it in hard numbers globally: that’s 280 million people who have depression. Two hundred and eighty…..million.

The WHO also cites that over 700,000 people die annually of suicide, and suicide is the fourth-leading cause of death amongst people ages 15-29…..

Depression can occur for a host of reasons:

  • Life transition

  • Dealing with a new diagnosis or having chronic pain/illness

  • Underlying genetic influences can predispose you (eg, make you more likely to experience depression) to depression so that when something that is challenging or hard comes up, you may experience symptoms

  • An unexpected negative life change (divorce; a breakup; job loss; death)*it is important to note that depression is different than grief, but lingering grief can turn into depression OR depression can co-occur with grief

  • Loneliness

  • Lack of stimulation appropriate for your level of intelligence

  • Adverse events in childhood

  • Cumulative stress

  • Learned helplessness and/or hopelessness

  • (This list is not exhaustive)

When depression hits, it can range from mild to severe depression. It often gets classified as a mood disorder when the feeling of depression last for two weeks or more. If it is lasting two years or more, it is typically known as "persistent depressive disorder" (formerly known as "dysthymia".

For women, it can be important to pay attention to when the depression appears, in particular because it may be related to where you are in your cycle. There is something called "PMDD" which stands for "premenstrual dysphoric disorder. This is basically extreme PMS and it is definitely worth talking to your doctor about so you can strategize a plan. It is also good to note that there are therapists out there who help you treat this and decrease symptoms.

Symptoms of depression typically include the presence of a few of the following:

  • You’ve experienced a change in sleep or appetite (more or less of either---including weight gain or loss) that has lasted more than 2 weeks

  • Maybe you don’t like doing the things you usually do in your free/leisure time

  • You feel unfulfilled but aren’t sure how to change it

  • You feel like you’re running out of internal resources to manage life the way it is

  • You sometimes think “if one more bad thing happens, I’m going to fall apart”

  • Hearing “is everything okay?” or “what’s wrong?” a little too often and/or from someone who maybe doesn’t see you much

  • Your internal or external commentary is mostly negative

  • A lot of things annoy you….all the time.

  • You’re feeling more sensitive than usual. Or emotional. Or tearful.

  • Your partner or a good friend or close family member is actually having a tough time being around you right now.

  • Helplessness

  • Hopelessness

Depression, Self-Harm, and Suicide/Suicidal Ideation

Risk of Self-Harm with Depression

Sometimes, the depression gets so heavy that you begin to engage in behaviors that bring physical harm to you and your body. People most often know about this through the behavior called “cutting” which is when people take usually a razor blade and apply enough pressure to yield small cuts somewhere on their body. Typically, the wrist or further up on arms, or the inside of their thighs. Individuals who engage in cutting behaviors often will do it in a place where clothing can cover up the cuts.

People often choose self-harm as a way to experience relief from their pain. The depression and weight of that sheer overwhelm of it can build to such an intense volume, that people are desperate for escape from it. The act of physical harm can sometimes momentarily provide enough distraction or enough relief that the individuals feel better for a short while. Self-harm is a serious symptom of depression and if you notice a friend has participated in these behaviors, it is really important to talk to them and tell someone.

Risk of Suicide with Depression

Depression can of course also bring thoughts of suicide, a desire to complete suicide, or the act of suicide itself. For these individuals, they have likely tried a NUMBER of coping skills to improve their emotional and mental state, even if you don’t have knowledge of their struggle or those behaviors. Or, the onset of severe depression happens so quickly from a major event, that they become immediately overwhelmed. In either of these situations, hopelessness about the future becomes something the individual is sure about. “This will never get better.” “I cannot handle this pain any longer.” “It would be better if I was gone because I am such a burden to so many.”

For those with suicidal ideation, it is imperative to reach out. The smallest glimmer of hope can make the biggest difference. That is why national and local crisis hotlines exist and are absolutely worth calling.

A person depressed and feeling very low. This person can benefit from Therapy in St. Louis from Marble Wellness. Marble Wellness specializes in depression and much more.

Here are some ways to manage depression symptoms at home