A diagnosis is made by a licensed doctor or mental health provider. Scientist don’t know what causes depression, but believe it’s a combination of genetics and environment. They do know depression affects both the brain and body.
Depression affects how you think, feel, and behave and interferes with regular day-to-day activities.
In DSM 5 manual, depression or major depressive disorder (MDD) is classified as the persistent feeling of sadness combined with lack of interest in daily activities and feelings of overwhelming hopelessness and helplessness.
Diagnosis occurs when a person has at least 5 symptoms at once for at least 2 weeks.
Depressed mood during the day, especially in the morning
Fatigue or loss of energy almost daily
Reduced concentration and increased indecisiveness
Insomnia (an inability to sleep) or hypersomnia (excessive sleeping) almost daily
Uncharacteristic lack of interest or pleasure in almost all daily activities
Recurring thoughts of suicide or suicidal attempts
Sense of restlessness or feeling slowed down
Significant weight loss or weight gain
Parents need to be observant and may want to document symptoms before visiting a doctor or mental health practitioner. A doctor will decide what depression treatment plan will be best. Most people dealing with depression feel better with medication, therapy, mindfulness, or a combination.
How to overcome depression? Depression is not normal and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Depression can happen at any age for any reason. Depression isn’t something they can just “snap” out of.
Children and teens may experience slightly different symptoms than adults
Symptoms in children may include:
Aches and pains
Refusing to go to school
Symptoms in teens may include:
Poor performance or school attendance
Feeling misunderstood or incredibly sensitive
Recreational drugs or alcohol use
Eating or sleeping too much
Loss of interest in normal activities
Avoidance of social interactions
While there are no definitive causes of depression, certain factors seem to increase the risk of depression.
Personality traits such as low self-esteem or being too-self critical
Traumatic or stressful events, sexual or physical abuse, death or loss of a loved one, financial problems, difficult relationship
Blood relatives with a history of depression, bipolar disorder, alcohol abuse
Being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered
History of other mental disorders
Alcohol or drug abuse
Without treatment depression will often get worse causing emotional, behavioral, and health problems.
Doctors may give a physical exam, run blood work, test thyroid or ask questions about your health to determine if symptoms may be linked to an underlying physical problem. A licensed mental health therapist will ask questions about symptoms, thoughts, feelings, or behavior patterns.
Therapy will help reduce feelings of isolation and work through their feelings to address symptoms. Therapy approaches may include Cognitive therapy (how we think and interpret events), Behavior Therapy (what we do), Interpersonal Therapy (how we relate and communicate with others). Using the skills on the Smarter Parenting website can help parents reinforce behaviors their children learn.
Medication can alleviate symptoms but is not a long-term solution. Anti-depression have side effects and withdrawal from these medications can be difficult and could increase suicidal thoughts or attempts.
Be honest with your doctor about any natural supplements as they may interfere with medication and cause complications.
Many doctors and mental health professionals are including the practice of mindfulness which helps focus on appreciation and acceptance of the moment and helps reduce stress.
Individuals can also benefit from exercise, good nutrition, and a strong support system.
People with depression can learn to control their symptoms and live a full and happy life.
For more information on what causes depression, visit the Smarter Parenting website.