Anyone who has ever suffered through a bout of intense, prolonged depression can attest to how depleted it makes you feel. In what seems like an instant, you are reduced to a shadow of yourself, so depressed, can’t function, and unable to accomplish even the most mundane tasks. Depression is a potent, often complex mental health disorder that can take even the most high-functioning adults right down into that dark rabbit hole of despair.
Eventually, the effects of the major depressive episode will touch all aspects of life. Coworkers will complain that you are not pulling your weight, significant others will feel they are being neglected, and your general health will begin to suffer as well. Depression is a serious mental illness that should not be ignored.
Crawling out of that rabbit hole takes effort, something you might not feel you have the ability to muster up. But with expert psychiatric intervention, treatment compliance, and lots of patience, daily functioning will be restored along with your quality of life.
What Causes Depression?
Why do some people manage to cycle through emotional setbacks, such as loss and grief, divorce or relationship breaking up, job loss, or financial devastation, while others get stuck and sink deeper and deeper into the grip of clinical of depression? Science is still unclear about the exact cause of major depression. Clinical studies are going, seeking answers through the study of brain chemistry, gut health, and genetic markers.
There are, however, some identified factors that can contribute to the development of depression. These include:
- Genetics. Family members who also struggle with depression is a strong indicator that you may also.
- Abuse. Past history of physical or sexual abuse
- Trauma. Witnessing or experiencing a highly traumatic event
- Loss. Sudden unexpected loss of a loved one
- Medical conditions. Certain health issues such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, thyroid conditions, multiple sclerosis, HIV, and stroke
- Medications. Certain drugs list depression as a side effect
- Personality. Coping skills and personality type
- Substance abuse. Depression can coexist with alcohol or drug addiction
The Symptoms of Depression
When you notice that you are so depressed, can’t function at even the routine daily tasks in a given day, you may indeed be experiencing a major depressive episode. According to the DSM-5, when the following symptoms (a cluster of five or more) persist for more than two weeks it is indicative of major depressive disorder. The symptoms of depression include:
- Feelings of sadness and despair persisting most of the time
- Extreme fatigue
- Slowed motor and cognitive functioning
- Sleep dysfunction, either hypersomnia or insomnia
- Sudden weight loss or gain
- Loss of interest in things once enjoyed
- Inappropriate feelings of guilt or shame
- Difficulty in concentrating or making decisions
- Persistent thoughts of dying or suicidal ideation
If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide along with at least four other symptoms for more than two weeks, you should seek professional psychiatric support as soon as possible.
How is Depression Treated?
When someone is feeling so depressed, can’t function, and is becoming hopeless, all they care about is getting better. Becoming whole again. The traditional treatment protocol for major depression includes a combination of antidepressant drug therapy and psychotherapy. The medication can help stabilize or adjust serotonin levels in the brain chemistry, although several drugs may have to be trialed before finding the one that is most effective in minimizing depression symptom and side effects that are tolerable.
Psychotherapy modalities are selected based on the underlying issues. There are exposure therapies for helping those who have experienced trauma, psychodynamic therapy is a deeper dive into childhood issues that might have set up the depression, and cognitive behavioral therapy can help the patient identify irrational thinking that leads to maladaptive behaviors.
Adjunctive therapies are a valuable component of depression therapy as well. TMS therapy uses magnetic fields to stimulate underactive brain cells common in depression patients. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) can assist with trauma-based depression. Holistic therapies, such as mindfulness training, can help individuals can help reduce stress and promote relaxation by shifting thoughts from negative ruminating toward being in the present moment.
Lifestyle changes are also an important element in treating depression. Getting regular exercise helps produce endorphins and dopamine, natural mood enhancers. A healthy diet that is high in lean proteins, whole grains, seeds, nuts, and fresh vegetables and fruits is also beneficial to overall mood.
Elevation Behavioral Health Provides Comprehensive Depression Treatment
Elevation Behavioral Health is a residential mental health program based in Los Angeles. At Elevation, our dedicated clinical staff treats each patient with dignity and respect as we partner with them to help alleviate the symptoms of depression. Using an integrated approach that involves both traditional and experiential treatment elements, Elevation has helped many individuals segue from being so depressed can’t function toward restoring a fully functioning life. For more information about our residential program, please connect with Elevation Behavioral Health today at (888) 561-0868.