Depression is classified as a mood disorder and can best be described as a condition in which feelings of sadness, lack of zest for life, and powerlessness predominate, leaving a mess through a person’s daily activities.
Depression is also a fairly common problem. Including young people from the age of 13 and the elderly. In an estimated one-fifth of people with depression, this disorder lasts longer than two years (an average of one year in children and adolescents).
Everyone who experiences symptoms of depression does it in their way. For some, it can disrupt daily activities at the expense of productivity. For others, negative thoughts leave a heavy mark in their relationship, or they may face chronic health problems.
Difference between gloom and depression
It’s important to realize that just feeling down is a normal part of life. Something sad or other less pleasant events happen to everyone. However, when these gloomy feelings persist for a more extended period and/or recur very frequently, it might be called depression.
There are often expectations that have not been met in the gloom or when life goes against the grain in some other way. Often these setbacks are not very bad and pretty easy to overcome. You cry or complain a bit and pick up life again.
Depression often involves a reduced ability to cope with setbacks. This reduced emotional resilience is often a result of continuous setbacks, poor emotional flexibility, and long-term stress.
What Are Depression Symptoms?
In addition to an almost constant state of sadness or a feeling of depression, various symptoms can occur, which can occur in different combinations. We can distinguish between mild depression and severe problems, which may even involve suicidal tendencies.
Some symptoms of depression affect mood, others affect the body, as feelings of depression cause stress. Men, women, and children experience the symptoms of depression differently.
Men can develop symptoms related to their:
- Mood, such as anger, aggressiveness, irritability, anxiety, restlessness.
- Emotional state, such as feeling empty, sad, helpless, or hopeless.
- Behavior, such as loss of interest, losing pleasure in fun activities, fatigue quickly, suicidal thoughts, excessive drinking, taking drugs, participating in high-risk activities.
- Sexual interest, such as decreased libido, erection problems.
- Cognitive skills, such as lack of concentration, difficulty completing tasks, delayed responses during conversations.
- Sleep problems, difficulty falling asleep, restless sleep, sleep problems.
- Physical symptoms, such as fatigue, pain, headache, digestive problems
Women can develop symptoms related to their:
- Mood, such as irritability, anxiety, feeling restless.
- Emotional well-being, such as feeling sad, anxious, or hopeless.
- Behavior, such as loss of interest in activities, withdrawal from social activities, suicidal thoughts.
- Cognitive skills, such as slower thinking and/or talking, reduced memory, loss of concentration.
- Sleep problems, such as being unable to fall asleep / stay asleep, waking up early.
- Physical well-being, such as decreased energy, appetite changes (low appetite or binge eating), weight changes, headaches.
Children can develop symptoms related to their:
- Mood, such as irritability, angry outbursts, mood swings.
- Emotional well-being, such as sadness, despair, introversion, feelings of incompetence.
- Behavior, learning problems at school, avoiding social contacts, thinking about death.
- Cognitive skills, such as concentration problems, are easily distracted, often resulting in declining school performance.
- Sleep problems, such as problems falling asleep and staying asleep or sleep deprivation.
- Physical symptoms, such as less energy, digestive problems, changes in appetite, weight loss.
Indeed, children’s symptoms are essential to diagnose since they have a considerable overlap with ADHD symptoms, so depressive symptoms can be confused with ADHD symptoms.
Causes of Depression
In general, events and circumstances in life are the leading causes of depressive feelings. However, the causes can also be biological. The reasons are often deeply anchored and often in the distant past, which makes the reasons often difficult to fathom and only come to light during psychotherapy, for example. Biological causes can be:
- Family history: When multiple members of your family have a history of depression or mood disorders, you are more likely to develop depression as well.
- Brain Structure: People whose frontal lobe of the brain is less active have a higher risk of depression.
Causes due to circumstances can be:
- Childhood trauma: Many people with childhood trauma, such as mental abuse, bullying, sexual abuse, develop depression later in life. They struggle to accommodate “baggage” in their lives and grapple with ethical concerns.
- Medical conditions: People with a chronic illness run a higher risk of developing depressive symptoms. Because they cannot participate 100% in society or have limited mobility, they often experience frustrations that can cause depression in the longer term. Think of conditions, such as chronic illness, disabilities, chronic pain, or ADHD.
- Drug use: For many people, drug use is an escape from their daily reality. A large proportion of the people who do drugs use these resources to avoid facing their real problems. About 21 percent of people with a drug problem also experience depression.
In addition to these causes, there are other risk factors for depression:
- a negative self-image
- personal history of mental illness
- medication use
- stressful events, such as the loss of a loved one, financial problems, or a divorce
Types of Depression
The types of depression can be divided into categories depending on the severity of the symptoms. Some people experience mild and temporary bouts of symptoms. Others suffer from severe and persistent depressive bouts. There are roughly two main types: major depressive disorder and persistent major depressive disorder.
Major depressive disorder is the more serious type of depression. It is characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and poor self-esteem that do not go away on their own. To be diagnosed with clinical depression, the individual must experience five or more of the following symptoms over a 2-week period:
- feeling depressed most of the day
- loss of interest in most regular activities
- significant weight loss or gain
- sleeping a lot or not being able to sleep
- slowed down thinking or moving
- most of the time, fatigue or low energy
- feelings of guilt and powerlessness
- loss of concentration and easily distracted
- recurring thoughts of death or suicide
Persistent depressive disorder
Persistent Major Depressive Disorder (PDD) used to be called dysthymia. It’s a milder but more chronic type of depression. In order to be diagnosed, the symptoms must last for at least two years. PDD can have a significantly greater impact on your life than major depression because it lasts longer.
Well-known properties in PDD are:
- lost interest in normal daily activities
- feeling hopeless
- depression, lack of productivity
- have poor self-esteem
- grief about their own situation
Treatments for depression
Within mental health care, there are various treatments for depression. None of these treatments guarantee a complete cure, but a combination of different methods can significantly reduce the symptoms and make depression (more) bearable.
Certainly, for severe depression symptoms, a doctor can prescribe antidepressants. Although these drugs can significantly reduce the symptoms, they naturally do not offer a structural solution, as they do not address the causes. In fact, they disrupt the neurotransmitter balance in the long term, so the body is no longer or hardly able to maintain a healthy balance in neurotransmitters and depends on the medication.
In most cases, drugs are combined with psychotherapy. Talking to a therapist can help you learn skills to better deal with negative feelings. Through certain exercises, you can learn to deal better with stressful circumstances.
Many people with depression have an inability to cope with stressful situations.
Heart coherence training in depression
Heart coherence training for depression is a relatively young therapy for alleviating symptoms of depression. The patient uses a heart monitor to measure heart rate variability. These values are based on the coherent cooperation of the heart, breath, and positive emotions.
These values can be used to determine whether someone feels happy. By consciously evoking positive emotions at fixed times every day, the patient can train himself to enter a coherent state.
An Inner Balance Trainer or emWave from the HeartMath Institute is used for this exercise, but iWatch from Apple and other smartwatches often have an HRV functionality.
To train heart coherence for depression, retreat to a quiet place where you cannot be disturbed. You place the sensor of the heart monitor on the earlobe and slow down your breathing. You focus on the heart region and visualize how you breathe in and out through the heart. Meanwhile, you evoke positive emotions by thinking about someone you love. This can be your loved one, but also a family member or a pet.
When you experience these positive emotions, it’s about trying to hold on to them. Keep breathing nice and relaxed, put a smile on your lips and breathe in through your nose and exhale through your mouth.