Depression is an illness that can be mild or chronic. It is a state in which an individual has ongoing and uncontrolled feelings that are associated with hopelessness and unhappiness. Although these are not uncommon emotions, when a person has depression the feelings do not resolve themselves, nor do they go away quickly.
Unlike normal feelings of sadness or “feeling down,” depression often affects a person’s ability to live a normal life. Depression comes in several forms, or types. The most common of these types are known as major depressive disorder, dysthymic disorder, and mild depression. Major depression is the most disabling form of depression and involves a combination of several different symptoms. Dysthymic disorder is less severe than major depression, but is long-lasting in that a person can be affected by it for two years or even longer. Other forms of depression include postpartum depression, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), bipolar disorder, and psychotic depression.
- WebMD: What is Depression?
- National Institute of Mental Health – Depression
- Family Doctor: Depression
- Depressive Illness Brochure (PDF)
There are numerous symptoms, or identifiers, that a person with depression may experience. These symptoms present themselves differently from person to person and are not all universally experienced. Even when people with depression experience the same symptoms, they may differ in terms of severity and duration. The frequency in which a person experiences his or her symptoms may also be different than how frequently another person experiences them. Depression symptoms include sadness and anxiousness, as previously noted, and a person with depression will have feelings of hopelessness as well. Irritability, worthlessness, guilt, and restlessness are all emotional symptoms of depression. When a person loses interest in things such as sex, hobbies, or other activities that he or she had previously found enjoyment in, it is another sign of depression. Physically, a person may feel fatigue and lack energy, he or she may have headaches, digestive problems, and other types of aches or pains. Changes such as eating less, sleeping more, and the inability to concentrate, are all well-known and frequently recognized symptoms of this disorder. In worst case scenarios, sufferers of untreated depression may experience suicidal thoughts or even actually attempt to take their own lives.
When identifying depression, the symptoms and the length are often used. According to the American Psychiatric Association, the diagnostic criteria for depression are that a person exhibits five or more symptoms for a period of no less than two weeks. Teen depression, however, often presents itself differently than adult depression in a variety of ways, although there are some similarities. Teenage depression can often be identified by aggression and frustration. These symptoms are the predominant emotions in teen depression while adults with depression experience sadness. While adults and some teens sleep more and eat less, the symptoms for other teenagers are the opposite. Unlike adults, a teen who sleeps less and eats more may also have depression. Another way to identify teenage depression, which is different than adult depression, is that teens may isolate themselves from people that they would normally associate with or from certain people but not all. A teen with depression may also be sensitive to rejection and/or criticism as well. The aches and pains that are symptomatic of adult depression are also symptomatic of teenage depression; however, upon examination, the pains and aches that teens frequently report have no known medical cause.
- Symptoms of Teen Depression and the Difference Between Teenage and Adult Depression
- How to Identify Depression
When a person, be they an adult or teenager, has depression, it is important that he or she receives treatment. Once a person has recognized that a friend or loved one exhibits the signs of depression, it is important to seek support from a professional. A mental health professional can help a person with depression in a number of ways ranging from therapy to medication. In addition, there are other options that can help handle this disorder. Support groups with other depression sufferers are one of these options. Lifestyle changes such as eating healthier diets, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and learning relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation can also make a positive impact.
- Help a Family Member or Friend Dealing with Depression Get Treatment and Find Resources
- Anxiety and Depression