Depression is a complex mental health disorder. Despite its ubiquity, with 21 million adults experiencing at least one episode of major depressive disorder in 2020 alone, each individual will have their own experiences with depression. Knowing its many sources and potential adverse effects is crucial for creating an effective plan for coping with depression, both for oneself with the help of trained professionals.
Causes of Depression
The causes and effects of depression are complicated, and it is much more than simply a pervasive feeling of sadness. Depression is the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain, often either having too little or too much of particular chemicals being produced.
The most common chemicals implicated in the development of depression are:
Each of these plays a vital role in one’s mood and emotional regulation. This chemical imbalance may also have a genetic component, with some individuals being predisposed to an increased risk of developing various forms of depression.
However, there are other factors involved in the development of depression. Emotional, physical, and sexual abuse or other forms of trauma can all make it difficult to regulate one’s emotions. Symptoms of depression can manifest as a result, often coupled with flashbacks and feelings of guilt or hopelessness. Excessive stress from one’s personal or professional life can have intense effects on one’s emotional state. Toxic work environments, difficult relationships, and other forms of stress can all be causes of depression.
The Forms of Depression
Depression takes many forms, and not all experiences with depression will be the same. For many, major depressive disorder is the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about depression. This form of depression comes with intense low moods, disinterest in hobbies or previous interests, excessive fatigue, insomnia, feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, guilt, and difficulty concentrating, with these effects lasting two weeks or more.
However, this is not the only form of depression. Persistent depressive disorder carries many similar signs and symptoms as major depressive disorder but indicates that an individual has been struggling with the effects of depression for two years or more. Persistent depressive disorder often requires the help of professionals, medication, or a combination of the two to manage its intense, prolonged symptoms.
Lastly, bipolar disorder is a unique form of depression marked by intense mood swings. An individual may feel the crippling or debilitating effects of depression in their daily life, but also moments of intense elation, making it difficult to manage or predict one’s emotional state. One may shift from periods of low energy or motivation to intense bursts of energy or from feelings of lethargy to difficulty resting or experiencing racing thoughts. These changing emotions can have a number of adverse effects on daily life, and seeking professional help may be necessary to understand and control one’s emotional health.
The Need to Address Depression
Each different form of depression can affect one’s life in many ways. For some, the pervasive feelings of doubt, disinterest, and fatigue can strain one’s personal and professional life. It can be difficult to connect or communicate with loved ones, impacting these relationships. Others may find it difficult to force themselves out of bed in the morning to go to work, affecting their professional performance and attendance and making it difficult to maintain employment. These symptoms can create a cyclic feeling of sadness and stress as one battles these effects of depression.
Without a dedicated outlet, depression can lead to other self-destructive behaviors. The use of drugs or alcohol is common in an attempt to lift one’s mood, feeling as if it is necessary to quell difficult feelings, if even for a moment. However, this sets a dangerous precedent. Attempts to self-medicate can quickly develop into addiction as one continues to engage in the practice. The use of drugs or alcohol can also increase the effects of depression as their effects wear off, making them a dangerous and counterproductive solution to one’s emotional needs. Professional help is necessary to effectively challenge depression and the concurrent use of addictive substances.
Lastly, suicidal ideation is common among those struggling with depression, and if left untreated, these thoughts can continue to manifest. Even if an individual does not act on these ideas, the constant feelings of worthlessness, shame, and guilt can continue to affect one’s daily life, and professional help is necessary to address these feelings and create a plan to overcome their implications in daily life.
Personalizing Your Treatment
Just as depression is different for each individual, so too is one’s recovery. Depression can feel all-encompassing, and working alongside professionals to create a comprehensive strategy for identifying and overcoming the effects of depression is necessary to facilitate the best possible path to healing.
For some, the use of directed therapies, journals, and self-care strategies can challenge their experiences with depression, while others may utilize these strategies in conjunction with medication to address the chemical balances within the brain. There are always new strategies to try, and continuing to personalize one’s recovery journey from depression can empower each individual to find their own best path to a healthy future.
Depression can feel entirely debilitating, understanding, and challenging, and overcoming the effects of depression can be difficult. At Buena Vista Recovery, we understand the complex journey through depression recovery and are ready to help you address its effects and the use of addictive substances that may have occurred as a result of these intense feelings. We are committed to creating a personalized plan for you, addressing your needs and goal in recovery while creating a comprehensive approach to your own healing.
For more information on how we can help you overcome depression in your life or for more information on our various addiction recovery programs available, call us today at (480) 741-9414.