Depression FAQs

depression-iconClinical depression is not only common, but can be all the more serious due to how often signs of depression are missed by those affected. Some of the most often asked questions about depression symptoms and treatment at Ascension Seton Behavioral Health are listed here. If you have a question that’s not answered below, please don’t hesitate to call us at 512-324-2039 or contact us online.

What is depression?

Clinical depression is a mental illness that includes strong feelings of hopelessness, low self-worth, and deep sadness. A major depressive episode may occur only once in a person’s lifetime, or may be followed by more episodes that can be either more or less serious.

What are some of the most common signs of depression?

The most often seen signs of depression include the inability to feel pleasure and a loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed. You may feel as if life will never get better, feel angry or grouchy, or always feel tired. Depression symptoms can also include changes in sleep patterns. You may lose your appetite or gain weight. People with depression can feel overwhelmed by even small tasks and have problems with concentration.

Are there different types of depression?

Depression can be classified by how and when symptoms occur and how serious they are. Some types of depression include:

  • Postpartum depression affects many women after giving birth. This is due to rapid swings in hormone levels and other changes after pregnancy.
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) can develop in the winter months. A lack of natural sunlight can lead to depression symptoms.
  • Dysthymia or dysthymic disorder is a lower grade of depression. Although mild, symptoms last longer than a major depressive episode, sometimes for years.

Depression symptoms can also be seen with alternating manic episodes in patients with bipolar disorder.

What makes clinical depression so serious?

The signs of depression by themselves may not seem unusual to the person suffering from them. Friends and family may also miss common signs of depression. For this reason, depression symptoms may go unnoticed and get worse over time. Severe depression can affect normal daily life, as well as lead to other health-related issues. These can include problems with addiction and chemical dependency or even suicide.

What causes depression symptoms?

There are many possible causes for clinical depression. Feeling unhappy with work or at home, living in an abusive relationship or being under a lot of stress can all contribute. Some medications may increase the risk for signs of depression as a side effect. Major life changes like starting or losing a job, marriage, or divorce can also trigger depression. Some people may are more likely to have depression in their lifetimes due to genetics. Women carry a higher risk of depression than men. A difference in brain structure or imbalance in brain chemistry may also be causes of depression.

How can I tell the difference between feeling a little down and clinical depression?

Feeling sad once in a while—or even for longer, such as after the death of a loved one—is very normal. However, depression is when feelings of sadness become serious enough to keep you from enjoying life or normal daily activities. Depression symptoms may last for several weeks, months or even years, often becoming worse as time passes.

What’s the best approach for depression treatment?

Light therapy can help those with SAD, while anti-depressant medication plus counseling are the normal treatment for other forms of depression. Because depression can develop due to many different factors, it’s important to take a customized approach toward depression treatment. For example, having a strong and positive support network is good for any patient, but may be even more critical for those without much support outside of treatment. Lifestyle factors that include physical health and medical histories also need to be looked at.

Is there a permanent cure for depression?

Although depression can be recurring, many experience just one depressive episode in their lifetime that does not come back. Because of this, there’s no single answer for every patient about how long recovery could take. Some patients feel much better quickly with treatment. Others may need to make big changes in their lives before depression symptoms ease. In some cases, an inpatient treatment can help remove external stressors that allow our patients to focus on healing. Other patients may receive the support they need through outpatient care.

Helping patients to change unhealthy thought patterns and learn more about the root causes of their depression can help ensure a positive outlook after recovery. It’s also important to support patients in their daily life to prevent isolation and encourage a nurturing environment.