Depression is a complex issue. Research shows that millions suffer from some form of depression each year. The problem, however, is that many who suffer from it are not even aware. It may take months or years before the sufferer realizes that there is something really wrong.
And to make things worse, though they realize there is a problem, only one third of them choose to seek help. Christians, especially, can be quite reluctant to do so, believing that depression means there is something wrong with them mentally or even spiritually. They are afraid to be labeled as “different” in their church or inner circle so they keep it to themselves.
Types of Depression
There are various types of depression that may be triggered by a number of factors such as the surrounding environment, major issues in life, stress and even genetics – in fact, those with a family history of a depression disorder have a higher risk of suffering the same.
Some types are instantly noticeable as a sudden event (e.g. death in the family, loss of job, broken heart) that may cause immediate changes in the person’s life. Other forms, however, gradually build up with the sufferer passing it off as something minor until it is too much to bear.
Here are some of the most common types of depression worldwide:
Clinical or Major Depression
Some medical specialists call this “major depressive disorder”. A person suffering from such feels depressed almost all the time. They may have difficulty sleeping, focusing on work and other life activities, or even remembering important things. Physically, there may be a loss of weight and a lack of energy. Emotionally, they may be quick to anger or immensely sad at times.
For them, life itself may seem quite meaningless, greatly troubling the people around them. There are many triggering factors such as genetics or biological changes; though commonly, it is a major life upheaval (e.g. separation, bankruptcy, health crisis) that causes it.
Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD)
The symptoms of this are similar to major depression but in a milder form. The difference is that PPD lasts much longer, with a person being diagnosed with such if it has lasted for at least two years.
PPD is a recurring depression, possibly disappearing for a month or two, but then striking again. Sufferers often claim that they have been depressed “forever” due to its long-lasting nature.
Atypical Depression (Subtype of Major Depression or PDD)
This is a subtype of either major depression or PDD. It is characterized by certain symptoms like a change in appetite (e.g. eating more or less than usual), excessive sleepiness, tiredness, and sensitivity to rejection. Mood swings dependent upon environmental stimuli are another characteristic since someone with atypical depression can become happy for a time if something positive occurs.
At some point in time, most mothers, particularly new ones, experience the case of “The Baby Blues.” As they deal with hormonal changes, fatigue, and the overwhelming feeling of being responsible for a new life, it is quite understandable why slight depression may set in.
However, those with severe postpartum depression have a higher feeling of despair which may last for months or even a few years after the birth. Such depression may make it difficult for the mother to connect with the child or even cause thoughts of harming the child.
Also known as Bipolar Disorder, this is a serious form of depression where the sufferer experiences periods of intense sadness followed by periods of mania. The exact levels of mania depend upon whether the person is Type 1 or 2, with Type 1 being the more severe situation as the level of elation is considered very abnormal. Professional help ought to be sought for anyone with this disorder.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Those with this disorder have a depression connected to the seasons of the year. SAD usually sets in during the colder and stormier parts of the year such as fall and winter. During such times, the person falls into a depressive state and has difficulty functioning, similar to someone with major depression. However, once the season ends, the person usually returns to normal.
Helpful Methods for Dealing with Depression
These are some ways to handle depression:
By discussing your situation with a trained therapist, patterns of behavior or thought that contribute to your depression may be discovered. Important tasks (e.g. identifying and reframing your cognitive distortions, journal writing, mood tracking, and coming up with a self-care plan) are then given to help you at home.
The therapist may also introduce exercises that help reduce stress and anxiety; assist in understanding your disorder; help come up with methods to avoid the triggers that may aggravate your depression, and teach you how to cope should depression set in.
Medication, alongside therapy, is a typical component of depressive disorder treatment. Depending on the severity, this may be prescribed for just a short time or even long-term. Some common medications given include benzodiazepines, sеlесtіvе ѕеrоtоnіn reuptake іnhіbіtоrѕ (SSRI’ѕ), sеrоtоnіn-nоrеріnерhrіnе reuptake inhibitors (SNRI’s), or trісусlіс antidepressants.
When one is depressed, personal care is often the least of one’s priorities. But intentionally trying to deal with your circumstances can really make a difference. This includes improving your mental outlook, nourishing your body, and caring for your spiritual needs. The following are some helpful activities to try:
- Mental self-care: deep breathing, journal writing
- Physical self-care: regular exercise, adequate sleep, proper diet
- Spiritual self-care: prayer time, connecting with family and friends
Though such strategies really do work for many, should you need something different, do not be afraid to discuss other options with your therapist.
Depression can be beaten if proper treatment is sought. For Christians, depression is not a sign of spiritual weakness nor is it a sin. With professional help, one can address the situation before things become even worse.
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