how long does a major a depressive episode last

What are the Symptoms of a Depressive Episode?

What is Depression?

Depression is quite a tough monkey to have on your back. It’s like a dark cloud looming over you at all times, that makes you feel sad, hopeless, and unworthy. It is a very common but serious disorder that impacts almost every area of your life, especially if it is left untreated. A number of things can cause depression. Sometimes it can be your present circumstances, other times it’s caused by misfirings of select neurons in your brain. The good news is, there are plenty of treatment options out there that could effectively subdue your depression, allowing you to live a “normal” life, whatever that might be to you.

Depression can make it difficult for a person to function and get through day to day activities as easily as the rest of us. It also impairs personal relationships and work situations, as it was difficult to focus on anything meaningful. It’s when all you can think of is how bad you feel on the inside. For some, it is almost impossible to get out of bed in the morning.

As I mentioned before, depression is common. It is so common in fact that it affects approximately 1 in 15 adults or 6.7% of the population in any given year. Also, 1 in 6 people will experience depression in their lives. Depression can hit someone at random, at any point in their life. On average, however, it usually strikes someone in their late teens to their early 20’s. Women are more likely to experience depression at some point in their lives than men. *In fact, it is estimated that 1/3 of the women in the world will experience some depression episode in their life.

Depression is Different from Grief, Feelings of Sadness, and Bereavement

depressive episode triggers

Losing someone you love and actually care for is tough. And the sense of grief and loss might be quite overwhelming at times. This sensation will often present similar symptoms to depression, but there are critical differences that separate the two.

  • *When a person is experiencing symptoms of grief, those painful feeling you experience come in waves, mixed with positive memories of the person that was lost. During depression, moods are negative for weeks at a time with no combination of positive feelings.
  • During periods of grief a person’s self-esteem is left completely intact, while in a person experiencing true depression, they often feel worthless or guilty without any real reason.
  • There are those instances when the death of a loved one does, in fact, bring on real depression. Losing a job you love, being the victim of physical/sexual abuse, or experiencing an impactful natural disaster can also cause depression, as you might expect. In those instances, where grief and depression simultaneously coexist, the pain will last longer than someone who does not also have depression. In spite of the sadness and depression overlapping, they are in fact different.

What are the Risk Factors for Depression?

As with any other disorder or disease, there are risk factors in place that can lead to the development of depression. Stay aware and be prepared for these important risks in whay may come. These include:

  • Genetics – Depression is one of those things that runs in families. So, if your mother or father have depression, do not be surprised if you or one or more of your siblings also have depression. If identical twins are born, and one of them has depression, there is a 70% chance that the other twin will develop depression as well.
  • Biochemistry – There are differences in some peoples’ brains as far as the chemical makeup goes, and this can contribute to depression
  • Environmental Factors –If a person grows up in a chaotic home environment, violence, abuse, neglect or proverty will surround them. It is likely this person will develop some depressive disorder.
  • Personality – Those with a lower self-esteem, who are more easily overwhelmed by stress and similar feelings, as well as pessimism, are very likely to develop depression as well.

What are the Symptoms of Depression?

The symptoms of depression range from light to more severe. They can include:

  • Having sad or depressed feelings for extended periods of times
  • Feeling like you are losing interest in things that you previously enjoyed
  • Frequent changes in appetite that causes significant weight loss or weight gain
  • Trouble falling or staying asleep—or problem with sleeping too much
  • Increased loss in energy and more frequent experiences with bouts of fatigue
  • Lots of purposeless activity such as wringing your hands or pacing back and forth with no real point
  • Noticeably slower than usual movement and speech
  • Feelings of worthlessness or unneccessary guilt
  • Experiencing severe difficulty thinking, concentrating on things, or making important decisions
  • Thoughts of suicide or that you would be better off dead

For a proper depression diagnosis, symptoms must last for at least two weeks. Other medical issues have symptoms that can mimic the symptoms of depression. These include thyroid problems, possible brain tumors, or a simple vitamin deficiency. Therefore, it is important to be in good communication with your doctor so you can come to a realistic conclusion of what your diagnosis might be.

Depression is serious and can cause problems in your day to day life, making it difficult to get things done. Especially if you are a mother or father, who needs to take care of their children. Thinking of others while suffering yourself is quite difficult. Before this becomes a serious concern, you should seek out medical help. A combination of medication and therapy can actually subdue your depression, allowing you to live your life simply.