Depression - Not Just Sadness

Depression - Not Just Sadness I have already had quite a few experiences with depression in my life. I have good friends who have battled it. Depression has affected some of my family members. Even I have felt absolutely hopeless at times. My experiences have raised many questions in my mind. How does depression affect people today? What causes it? More importantly, how can people be helped?

I began my search for answers on the “To Write Love on Her Arms” website. To Write Love on Her Arms (often shortened to TWLOHA) is "a nonprofit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide". The facts they had posted astounded me.

121 million people worldwide suffer from depression.
18 million of these cases are happening in the United States.
2/3 of those suffering from depression never seek treatment.
Among teenagers it is estimated that 20 percent will suffer from depression at some point by the time they reach adulthood. There are also as much as 8.3 percent of teens suffering from depression for at least a year at a time, compared to 5.3 percent of the general population.

I had originally planned on writing my paper specifically about teen depression, but I realized just how much depression affected everybody. I then decided to Google search depression to get some basic facts. I stumbled across a useful site that could answer some of my questions. Here are some examples of symptoms of depression.:

Persistent sadness, pessimism
Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness or hopelessness
Loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities, including sex
Difficulty concentrating and complaints of poor memory
Worsening of co-existing chronic disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes
Insomnia or oversleeping
Weight gain or loss
Fatigue, lack of energy
Anxiety, agitation, irritability
Thoughts of suicide or death
Slow speech; slow movements
Headache, stomachache, and digestive problems
(Web MD)

Doctors can use these symptoms or physical signals to diagnose depression. Physical signs are:
Appearance of preoccupation
Lack of eye contact
Memory loss, poor concentration, and poor abstract reasoning
Pacing, hand wringing, and pulling on hair
Psycho-motor retardation or agitation, such as slowed speech, sighs, and long pauses
Self-deprecatory manner, or belligerence and defiance (especially in adolescents)
Slowed body movements, even to the extent of being motionlessness or catatonia
Tearfulness or sad countenance

I realized then that depression not only harmed you emotionally, but also physically. I also learned that there are many different types of depression, which is more than just feeling sad. “The occasional sadness everyone feels due to life’s disappointments is very different from the serious illness caused by a brain disorder.” It affects you in different ways. “All depression types are not the same. Major depression, also known as clinical depression, and chronic depression, also known as dysthymia, are the most common types.”
Another type of depression is atypical depression. Symptoms include overeating, oversleeping, fatigue, extreme sensitivity to rejection, moods that worsen or improve in direct response to events
There is also bipolar depression (manic depression). “Bipolar disorder is a complex mood disorder that alternates between periods of clinical depression and times of extreme elation or mania. There are two subtypes of bipolar disorder: bipolar I and bipolar II.”

“Seasonal depression, often called seasonal affective disorder (SAD), is a depression that occurs each year at the same time. It usually starts in the fall or winter and ends in spring or early summer. It is more than just "the winter blues" or "cabin fever." A rare form of SAD, known as "summer depression," begins in late spring or early summer and ends in fall.”

Other types of depression include psychotic depression and postpartum depression.
There are many different types of depression, all with different symptoms. I found that depression can be cured by therapy and medication. No matter how hopeless a person feels, there is always a way out.

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