Depression Psychology: How Does It Happen

By BetterHelp Editorial Team|Updated July 22, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Dawn Brown, LPC

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Depression is a disorder that can be a mild inconvenience from time to time or be completely debilitating. For the outsider, it's hard to understand. For the one dealing with depression, it's sometimes hard to explain as well. In this post, we will explain more about depression and what you can do to treat it.

What Is Depression?

Everyone has a bad day on occasion or a day where they feel upset even if nothing is wrong. A depressive disorder involves experiencing chronic feelings of depression, and this can involve more than feeling sad. It can affect your body and the way you live your life.

Chronic depression involves feeling depressed for over two weeks. Depression comes in different types.

Here are a few types.

Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD)

This is when you feel depressed for over two years. You'll have episodes all throughout those years, all differing in severity. Sometimes, you'll feel better, but then those symptoms will return.

Postpartum Depression

Also known as the baby blues, postpartum depression is when a woman experience depression after giving birth. When you give birth, your hormones change, and this can lead to depression. This can affect your ability to a mother to your baby and can cause some problems in your relationship. Postpartum depression goes away after a while, but it can be prolonged as well.

Psychotic Depression

This is when you are experiencing depression along with psychosis, where you are suffering from hallucinations or delusions. These symptoms may have a theme that is quite a depressing, such as feeling guilty.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Fittingly abbreviated as SAD, the seasonal affective disorder is when a seasonal change makes you feel depressed. This is usually during winter when the amount of sunlight decreases. During winter, you spend more time indoors, may gain weight, and these lifestyle changes can contribute to your depression.

Bipolar Disorder

This involves swinging episodes of mania and depression. Mania is when someone feels intense euphoria and generally feels good about themselves. Then, the mood changes and they feel depressed. While not a full depression disorder, the fact it involves episodes of depression means that it's worth discussing.

Symptoms

Depression comes in many symptoms, and as you'll soon see, it's more than just feeling upset. Here are some common symptoms.

  • Always feeling sad or apathetic. Even if there's nothing to be sad over.
  • You may feel hopeless, worthless, or guilty.
  • You may feel irritable.
  • Hobbies you used to enjoy aren't interesting anymore.
  • You may feel fatigued.
  • Your speech and moving are slower.
  • Ironically, you may not be able to keep still.
  • Your concentration, decision making, and memory fade.
  • Your appetite may change, and this can affect your weight.
  • Your sleeping patterns may change. You may have insomnia or sleep too often, both of which aren't good for your mental health.
  • You may experience headaches or other aches and pains. Sometimes, you may mistake this for another disease or disorder.
  • In worst cases, you may feel suicidal and even attempt suicide.

You don't need to have every symptom to have depression. Everyone's depression manifests in different ways. You can explain all your symptoms to your doctor, and they can determine whether or not you have depression.

Causes Of Depression

Is Your Mood Debilitating In Your Daily Life?

 There are quite a few reasons why one may experience depression. Sometimes, it's genetic. If your parents had depression, you might have it as well. Other times, it's situational. There is an event happening in your life that has triggered your depressionand changing your life may be the solution. Other times, past trauma may be the cause of your depression. Or it can be caused in your brain due to chemical imbalances. Positive emotions are due to feel-good chemicals in your brain, such as serotonin, and if there is disruption, it can cause you to feel depressed.

Depression is common during adulthood but can happen in children, adolescents, and any other age group. For older adults, depression can be a symptom of another disease.

Treating Depression

There is no way to rid yourself of depression for good, but there is treatment available regardless of how severe it is. A combination of medicine, therapy, and lifestyle changes are the most effective when treating depression. Sometimes, the brain may need stimulation to feel better. There is no right solution to depression, as everyone is affected in different ways. Often, treatment is trial and error.

Medicine

Medications such as antidepressants may be able to treat your depression. These medications can change the chemicals in your brain so that you feel better and can do more. There is no magic pill, however. You may need a certain dosage and type of medicine for treatment to be the most effective. If a medication has helped your family member, it may be more effective.

When you take medication, don't throw it out because you don't feel better right away. It can take weeks before you see results. Often, the improvements are gradual. You may still feel depressed, but your sleep has been improving. As you take these medications, make sure you're always talking to your doctor. If you are experiencing negative health effects, talk to your doctor about them and see what you can do. If you want to quit your medication, talk to your doctor as well. Quitting the medications suddenly may lead to side effects.

Antidepressants are relatively safe, but there are some side effects. One severe side effect can be thoughts of suicide. If you are experiencing this, then you should talk to your doctor right away. It's rare but more prominent in young adults and younger.

Therapy

There are a few types of therapy and counseling options available to treat depression, and they work great whether you're taking medicine or not. Some forms of therapy that can treat depression include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT. This involves replacing any negative or self-defeating thoughts with more productive thoughts. In other words, positive thinking. You can't change how you think overnight, but CBT allows you to do it gradually.
  • Problem-solving If a situation in your life causes your depression, problem-solving therapy is here to allow you to manage it much better and end the cause of your depression. Often, your depression makes it harder to solve your problems, and therapy is the workaround for that.
  • Talk therapy. Sometimes, talking about your problems can help you find the solutions. You may learn that something in your past causes your depression, and you can take steps to resolve any past issues you may have.

Lifestyle Changes

Sometimes, you may need to change your routine to improve your depression. Examples include:

  • Exercising more. Exercise is great for your mental health, releasing all sorts of feel-good chemicals. By improving your body, you can also improve your mood.
  • Changing your diet. The diet you may have can contribute to your depression, especially if you are not eating well. Talk to your doctor about your diet and see if there are any changes you can make to it to feel better.
  • Getting on a routine. Those who are depressed may lose their routine, and this can make them more depressed. A routine keeps you distracted and can make you feel more accomplished, which can fight your depression quite well.
  • Making new friends. If your social circle isn't supportive, finding friends who support you can be the solution that you need.
  • Changing your hobbies, location, or other lifestyle changes. Sometimes, you may have grown bored with your way of life, and this can contribute to depression. By making changes, it can stimulate your mind and make you feel much better about yourself.

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

ECT is a treatment option for those with severe depression, who don't respond to other treatment options. It involves stimulating parts of the brain with electricity. These parts of the brain are associated with treating depression, and by giving them some stimulation, it can make you feel better.

It's not painful, and the side effects aren't bad. Some experience memory difficulties at first, and it's worth talking to your doctor about ECT if you're not sure.

Similar therapies include magnetic stimulation.

In Summary

Depression is hard to understand, even if you have it. You can't tell if you're going through a funk or if it's more serious. Sometimes, you may become numb to the depression. If you have been experiencing depression for a while, it's best that you talk to your doctor and see what treatment options you have available. Don't let depression control you; leaving it untreated can lead to more problems down the road and make it harder to treat. Educate yourself about depression and find someone who can help you.

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