Wherapy’s Depression Guide

Depression is one of the most common forms of mental illness. According to Mental Health America (MHA) over 16 million Americans suffer from depression every year. In the EU the figure is higher still, with approximately 7% of its 512 million population reporting depressive symptoms in 2014. The World Health Organisation approximates that roughly 300 million people are affected by depression each year. For some, depression can lead to extreme distress and even suicide attempts. The WHO report that circa 800,000 people commit suicide each year and that suicide is the second leading cause of death amongst people between the ages of 15 and 29.

The Different Types Of Depression

Much like other forms of mental illness, depression is very complex and can therefore be hard to define. That is why there are different types of depression. The cause and circumstances behind each type will also be different. Below are just a few examples of the different types of depression that exist.

Recurrent Depressive Disorder

RDD involves repeated depressive episodes wherein the person experiences reduced energy levels, loss of interest, disturbed sleeping patterns, loss of appetite, feelings of low-self worth / guilt, poor concentration and a generally depressed mood. In order for Recurrent Depressive Disorder to be diagnosed, symptom must persist for at least two weeks. People diagnosed with RDD may also suffer from anxiety attacks.

A RDD diagnosis can vary on a scale of mild, moderate and severe. Individuals diagnosed with a mild depression will find it difficult to concentrate at work and be social, whereas individuals suffering from a severe depression will not be able to complete routine activities.

Major Depressive Disorder

Otherwise known as Clinical Depression, Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is characterised by an ongoing low mood, low self-esteem as well as loss of interest in activities that previously were considered interesting. In order to be diagnosed with MDD, symptoms must be present for at least two weeks.  MDD is also referred to as Major Depression.

Persistent Depressive Disorder

Also called Dysthymia, Persistent Depressive Disorder is a prolonged period of depressed mood that lasts for at least two years. During this time, a person may have periods of severe depression as well as periods of milder depression. In order to be diagnosed with Persistent Depressive Disorder, symptoms must last for at least two years.

Psychotic Depression

This occurs in people who also suffer from some type of psychosis, such as hallucinations (i.e. seeing objects, people or animals that do not exist or hearing things that have not been said) or delusions (i.e. false beliefs in narratives that do not exist). Delusions will often have a depressive element to them such as delusions of poverty, illness or guilt.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is common in people who live in countries with long winters such as Russia, Canada and the Nordic and Baltic countries. SAD occurs as a result of less natural sunlight during the winter months and lifts at the onset of spring. Typical symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder are increased sleep, social withdrawal as well as weight-gain associated with over eating. SAD is one of the few forms of depression that can be anticipated.

Postpartum Depression

Postpartum Depression (PPD) relates to behavioural, physical and emotional changes that occur in a woman after giving birth. PPD is not to be confused with mild forms of depression that typically cease two week after giving birth. Women who suffer from Postpartum Depression experience severe depression during pregnancy or after delivery. Symptoms associated with PPD such as exhaustion, anxiety and sadness can often make it difficult for the mother to take care of her child and herself.

Bipolar Affective Disorder

Bipolar Affective Disorder consists of an intense mixture of extreme manic and depressive episodes. Manic episodes consist of over-activity, inflated self-esteem, a decreased need for sleep, elevated or irritable mood and a hastened speech.

Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder

Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder, or DMDD for short, is a disorder wherein a child is chronically irritable and exhibits severe temper tantrums out of proportion to the stimuli that has caused the reaction.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) is a more extreme form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), affecting women of child-bearing age. The suspected cause of PMDD is an over reaction to the hormone changes that occur with each menstrual cycle. The hormone changes can cause a serotonin deficiency. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter found in the brain and intestines that affects mood levels.

Symptoms of Depression

If you have been exhibiting the symptoms below for at least two weeks, you may be suffering from depression.

Symptoms of Depression

Example of Symptoms

Emotional
  • Depressed mood
  • Loss of pleasure
  • Irritability
  • Feeling hopeless and helpless
  • Feeling worthless
  • Feelings of guilt or self-blame
  • Feelings of sadness and emptiness
  • Feeling anxious
Cognitive
  • Loss of concentration
  • Difficulty in making decisions
  • Difficulty with memory
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Pessimistic thought
  • Loss of interest in stimuli previously interesting to you
Physical
  • Changes in sleeping patterns (oversleeping or not sleeping enough)
  • Change in appetite
  • Loss of energy
  • Fatigue
  • A lack of sexual desire
  • Sluggishness
  • Feeling restless
  • Frequent headaches, cramps, and digestive problems
Behavioral
  • Withdrawal
  • Frequent tearfulness
  • Neglecting self-care and appearance
  • Neglecting responsibility – e.g. tardiness

 

Not everyone who is diagnosed with depression will experience every symptom. In order to be diagnosed with a depression one has to experience at least five symtoms as well as generally depressed mood. The severity and longevity of each symptom will vary depending on the individual in question and the circumstances of their depression.

How To Know If You Have Depression

The way in which you get diagnosed for depression may vary depending on the country you live in. In some areas you may have to visit a certified psychologist or a psychotherapist and in others you may be able to get diagnosed for depression at a local doctor’s office. There are also depression tests online for self-diagnosis although these cannot be used as basis for an official diagnosis.

CPRS Depression Test

Interested in finding out whether or not you are depressed and, if so, to what degree? Fill in the following depression test provided by The Karolinksa Institute for Psychiatry and our staff will email you the results.

What To Do If You Have Depression

The treatment for your depression will vary depending on its severity. 

Mild Depression

If you have taken a depression test such as the one provided above and received a score within the boundaries for what is considered a mild depression, then there are several things that you can do in order to make yourself feel better. What is more, these remedies usually involve activities that you can do on your own so there is no need for pricey therapists or medicine.

Exercise: The first thing you can do if you are suffering from a mild depression is to exercise. This form of treatment has proven so successful that many doctors and psychotherapists have begun prescribing it to their patients. This has to do with natural increase in serotonin and endorphin levels within the body. Studies show that a simple 30-minute walk once a day is enough to raise serotonin levels and in turn alleviate symptoms of depression.

Diet: A change in diet has also proven to have a positive effect in the fight against depression. This too has to do with increasing serotonin and endorphin levels in your body. By eating foods with high natural fats (Omega-3) such as egg, cheese, salmon, tofu, tuna, nuts, seeds, turkey as well as sweet fruits such as pineapple, your body will receive a boost in serotonin levels which will work against the depression. St. John’s Wort and Saffron has also been proven to have a positive effect on depression levels. Sticking to a meal plan and eating at regular intervals will also help to keep serotonin levels even.

Many people have also been misdiagnosed with depression due to deficiencies in their diet. Zinc deficiency has shown to have similar symptoms to a depression such as sluggishness and decreased interest in stimuli, and so has gluten intolerance. If you suspect that you are depressed and know from previous experience that your diet is bad or you have allergies it may be wise to consider changing the way you eat. 

Socialising: People who suffer from depression tend to withdraw from all social activity. Many consider themselves not worthy to be around and therefore shun friends and family. Obviously, this does more harm than good. Face-to-face interaction stimulates neurotransmitters in the brain which makes it easier for us to feel happy and relieves us of depressive symptoms. 

Moderate Depression

If you have received a score within the parameters for a moderate depression, then the most effective treatment is psychodynamic therapy. Fortunately, therapy has become a widespread practice in many countries and with developments in technologies has become available to many people across the globe. If you are interested in seeking therapeutic help online, there are plenty of services available. Services such as Wherapy use a video conferencing software to offer clients across the globe one-on-one therapy and counselling sessions at a time of their convenience. Widespread competition has also driven down prices, making online therapy an affordable option for people on a budget. For those seeking to meet a therapist in person, there are several directories online such as Psychology Today that can help you to find a therapist near you. 

The different types of therapy: There are many different types of therapy, most of them being offshoots of two main practices, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Psychodynamic Therapy. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is designed to help the client alter their cognitive distortions and behaviour and also helps to regulate emotions. Undergoing Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is likened to receiving treatment for the symptoms of depression, whereas Psychodynamic Therapy aims to reveal the underlying cause of the depression. Psychodynamic Therapy involves psychoanalysing events in the client’s past as well as present in an effort to relieve psychic tension.

Severe Depression

If you have taken a depression test and received a score within the boundaries for what is considered a severe depression, then the most affective form of treatment is antidepressant medication such as SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) or NRIs (Norepinephrine Reuptake Indicators). There are many adverse affects associated with antidepressants. Doctors are therefore encouraged not to prescribe antidepressants as an initial treatment to depression. Antidepressants should be prescribed with the intention of lowering the patients depression levels in order to start therapy whereupon the antidepressants would be taken away. * Antidepressants are harmful to children.

What To Do If You Have Suicidal Thoughts

If you are currently contemplating suicide then the treatment methods described in the section above will be of no help to you. Please consider contacting your immediate family members as well as good friends. There are also numerous suicide hotlines available. Below are a few resources for those of you who are contemplating suicide.

 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (USA)

www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

International Suicide Prevention Directory

www.suicide.org/international-suicide-hotlines.html

References

Ec.europa.eu. (2019). World Mental Health Day: data on chronic depression. [online] Available at: https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/web/products-eurostat-news/-/EDN-20181010-1 [Accessed 29 Sep. 2019].

Mhanational.org. (2019). Depression | Mental Health America. [online] Available at: https://www.mhanational.org/conditions/depression [Accessed 29 Sep. 2019].

Who.int. (2019). Depression. [online] Available at: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/depression [Accessed 29 Sep. 2019].

© Copyright 2020 - Wherapy