Depression and Depressive Disorders

Depression and Depressive Disorders

Everyone experiences a slump now and then, but depression tends to run a bit deeper than a case of the blues. Depression can range from mild to severe, and can affect anyone from any demographic. Depression can feel different for everybody, and knowing the characteristics and symptoms can help you to take control and seek treatment before depression can become unbearable.

Mild Depression

Mild depression is mainly situational, resulting from a circumstance such as job loss, a breakup, or the loss of a loved one. It is normal to feel upset and sad over these kinds of challenges. Over the course of a few weeks, the symptoms of mild depression will lessen, and your mood and affect will return to a relatively normal state as you process and move past the situation.

Moderate Depression

Moderate depression is characterized as unspecified depression with moderate symptoms that are manageable. Symptoms such as apathy, sadness, feelings of emptiness, lack of interest, insomnia or hypersomnia, restlessness, fatigue, and inability to focus can be expected in moderate depression.

Major Depressive Disorder

Major depressive disorder, or clinical depression, is classified as a serious mental illness that can cause disruptions in your life. Symptoms will last longer than two weeks and hinder your ability to find enjoyment in everyday life. Symptoms may include feelings of sadness, apathy, emptiness, lack of interest, appetite changes, disrupted or abnormal sleep habits, fatigue, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, trouble concentrating or making decisions, and suicidal ideation.

Seeking Treatment

The first step to addressing suspected depression is to speak with your primary care provider. Your provider will likely run some diagnostic tests to rule out physical issues that may mimic depression symptoms, such as thyroid issues and vitamin deficiency. The provider will also perform a PHQ-9 or a Patient Health Questionnaire, which is a diagnostic screening tool for depression. You will be asked a series of questions with a rating scale, and your cumulative score will help the provider to gauge the level of depression and the risks associated. If your provider determines that you are depressed, you will likely receive a referral for psychiatric evaluation with a mental health service provider.

Psychiatric Evaluation

During a psychiatric evaluation, you will meet with a psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse practitioner who will spend time with you, exploring your symptoms and determining the best course of treatment for you. Your treatment plan may include therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes that can all support your mental health.

Lifestyle Changes

Depression can sap your energy and make the idea of lifestyle changes seem insurmountable. In reality, instilling positive lifestyle habits can form a safety net that will lessen the effects of depression in your daily life. Positive lifestyle changes can include yoga, cardio exercise, meditation, healthy nutritional habits, healthy sleep hygiene, and limiting or eliminating alcohol and substance use.

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