I’m Not Lazy, I’m Depressed

| Written by Jessica Lelinho, MA, LPC, NCC, LCADC, C-DBT

Do you feel like you’re constantly sad? Feel like you’re never able to be happy? I think it’s safe to say that at times we all get sad in some way or another. When our feelings of sadness become debilitating we need to talk to someone to help us cope with our emotions. 

What Is Depression

The American Psychological Association defines depression as extreme sadness or despair that lasts more than days interfering with the activities of daily life and can cause physical symptoms such as: pain, weight loss or gain, sleeping pattern disruptions, or lack of energy. Individuals afflicted with depression may also experience an inability to concentrate, feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt, and recurrent thoughts of death or suicide. Depression is the most common mental health disorder and is treatable. 

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Types of Depression

The National Institute of Mental Health discusses the various types of depression. Two common types of depression are:

  • Major Depression which includes symptoms of depressed mood or loss of interest, most of the time for at least 2 weeks, that interfere with daily activities.
  • Persistent Depressive Disorder (also called dysthymia or dysthymic disorder) which consists of less severe depression symptoms that last much longer, usually for at least 2 years.

Other types of depression include:

  • Seasonal affective disorder which comes and goes with the seasons, with symptoms typically starting in the late fall and early winter and going away during the spring and summer.
  • Depression with symptoms of psychosis which is a severe form of depression in which a person experiences psychosis symptoms, such as delusions or hallucinations.
  • Bipolar Disorder which involves depressive episodes, as well as manic episodes (or less severe hypomanic episodes) with unusually elevated mood, greater irritability, or increased activity level.

Additional types of depression can occur at specific points in a woman’s life (pregnancy, the postpartum period, the menstrual cycle, and menopause) which are associated with physical and hormonal changes that can bring on a depressive episode in some individuals. These types of depression include:

  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder which is a severe form of premenstrual syndrome, or PMS, that occurs in the weeks before menstruation.
  • Perinatal depression which occurs during pregnancy or after child birth. It is more than the “baby blues” that many new mothers experience after giving birth.
  • Perimenopausal depression which affects some women during their transition to menopause. Women can experience feelings of intense irritability, anxiety, sadness, or loss of enjoyment.

Symptoms of Depression

While depression may only occur once during our life, individuals typically have multiple episodes of depression. During these episodes, symptoms will occur most of the day nearly everyday. The Mayo Clinic identifies the following symptoms of depression, depression symptoms among children and teens, and depression symptoms in older adults:

  • Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness, or hopelessness
  • Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as sex, hobbies or sports
  • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort
  • Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain
  • Anxiety, agitation or restlessness
  • Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
  • Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide
  • Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches

Symptoms of Depression Among Children and Teens

  • In younger children, symptoms of depression may include sadness, irritability, clinginess, worry, aches and pains, refusing to go to school, or being underweight.
  • In teens, symptoms may include sadness, irritability, feeling negative and worthless, anger, poor performance or poor attendance at school, feeling misunderstood and extremely sensitive, using recreational drugs or alcohol, eating or sleeping too much, self-harm, loss of interest in normal activities, and avoidance of social interaction.
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Symptoms in Older Adults

  • Memory difficulties or personality changes
  • Physical aches or pain
  • Fatigue, loss of appetite, sleep problems or loss of interest in sex — not caused by a medical condition or medication
  • Often wanting to stay at home, rather than going out to socialize or doing new things
  • Suicidal thinking or feelings, especially in older men

Diagnosis of Depression

The National Institute of Mental Health discusses how depression is diagnosed. In order to meet treatment criteria as laid out by the Diagnostics and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) individuals must have symptoms most of the day, nearly every day, for at least two weeks. One of the symptoms must be a depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure in most activities. Children and adolescents may be irritable rather than sad. Depression can be diagnosed as mild, moderate, or severe. Please note that a healthcare provider must diagnose depression, if you feel you have depression reach out to a health care provider. 

Statistics of Depression

The World Health Organization identified the following key statistics on depression:

  • Depression is a common mental disorder.
  • Globally, an estimated 5% of adults suffer from depression.
  • More women are affected by depression than men.
  • Depression can lead to suicide. 
  • There is effective treatment for mild, moderate, and severe depression.

If you are in crisis, or you know someone who is in crisis, contact the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline or dial 911 in case of emergency

  • Call or text 988
  • Chat 988lifeline.org
  • TTY users, use your preferred relay service or dial 711 then 988

Conditions Related to Depression

Depression is also a risk factor for other medical conditions. WebMd identified other conditions related to depression:

  • High Blood Pressure
  • Heart Disease
  • Stroke
  • Chronic Pain
  • Eating Disorders
  • Substance Use Disorder
  • Other Mental Illnesses
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Treatment of Depression

The Cleveland Clinic identifies the following ways in which depression is treated:

Benefits of Treatment for Depression

WebMD identifies the following to be benefits of depression treatment: better sleep, better love life, pain relief, improved health, better performance at work, sharper thinking and better memory, happier home life, healthier lifestyle, less chaos and more control, lower risk of future depression, and stronger ties with family and friends.

We all feel sad at times. When our sadness occurs too often, that is when we need to seek professional help. These are just a few tips/resources to assist in a diagnosis of Depression. 

If you are looking to address your Depression, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Engaging in therapy can lead to decreasing mental health symptoms of Depression. A licensed professional can assist you in overcoming these challenges. 

When Jessica is not providing therapy, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, listening to country music, cooking, baking, and going to the beach.

Check out Jessica’s professional bio here

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