Periods of sadness or loneliness are common during the course of one’s life, but the persistence and severity of these feelings may indicate depression. Around 15.7 million adults age 18 or older in the U.S. have experienced at least one major depressive episode in the last year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Depression is a type of mood disorder that can affect someone’s ability to think, feel and carry out everyday tasks at work and home.
Common symptoms of depression include feeling sad, anxious, “empty,” hopeless, pessimistic, guilty, worthless or helpless. Decreased energy, difficulty concentrating, over or under sleeping, irritability, feeling restless and/or changes in weight are also signs used to diagnose a depressive disorder. Similar to anxiety, there are different depression disorders, each with its own symptoms and treatments. Some of the major depressive disorders include but are not limited to: major depression (major depressive disorder), persistent depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), psychotic depression and postpartum depression.
Major depression is marked by feeling low most days and symptoms present every day for two weeks. Symptoms include fatigue, restlessness, impaired concentration, and thoughts of suicide, among others. Major depression can be treated with psychotherapy. Sometimes antidepressant medication is prescribed to help mitigate symptoms in conjunction with talk therapy. Persistent depressive disorder describes depression that lasts longer than two years. Symptoms of persistent depression are similar to major depression and while they may not be as severe at times, the notable difference is their longevity. People who experience this disorder may feel like they’ve never not felt depressed or it’s always been present in their personality. Recommended treatment for the disorder is psychotherapy and medication to ease symptoms.
Bipolar disorder is different from depression, but it’s related due the presence of depressive episodes during the low periods of the disorder. Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder with depressive lows and manic highs, according to the Mayo Clinic. There are two types of bipolar disorders called type 1 and type 2. A person with type 1 will experience a manic episode but may not experience a depressive episode. A person with type 2 will experience a hypomanic (less severe) episode and at least one depressive episode. Those with type 2 won’t experience a manic episode severe enough that it could land them in a hospital, which is common in type 1. Depending on the type of bipolar disorder, mood stabilizers and therapy is recommended.
Seasonal affective disorder is a mood disorder that typically begins during fall and lasts through winter. It’s more serious than the “winter blues” some people may experience. Light therapy, psychotherapy, antidepressants or some combination of the above is used as treatment. Psychotic depression is characterized by a psychotic episode in the midst of depression. These episodes may include delusions or hearing or seeing things that others cannot (delusions). Postpartum depression is a mood disorder outlasting “baby blues” which occurs up to two weeks after birth. The disorder is marked by depression and can be treated with medication.
At Resilience Lab, we focus on the whole body because we believe depression is a whole body experience. We view the mind as a tool to help the whole body feel better. To begin, we will work with your primary care doctor to look for the underlying cause of your depression. It may be hormonal, seasonal, circadian, situational, inflammatory or a combination. At the same time, we’ll work together to help you gain psychological and behavioral tools. Often the mind develops thinking patterns that match how the body is feeling, encouraging you to isolate or stay in bed. Your Resilience Lab therapist will help design a comprehensive strategy for your experience.