Depression (also known as major depressive disorder) is a common and serious condition that negatively affects how you feel, think, and act. Fortunately, it is also treatable. The main characteristics of depression are feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed. Additionally, it may lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease your ability to function at work and at home.
Symptoms of Depression
Though each case of depression is different, here are some common symptoms of the disorder.
- Feeling sad or having a depressed mood
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
- Changes in appetite — weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- Loss of energy or increased fatigue
- Lethargy or feeling slowed down
- Feeling worthless or guilty
- Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Having trouble concentrating
- Frequent physical complaints such as headaches and stomach aches
Signs of Depression in Children and Teenagers
Many children have times when they are sad or down. Occasional sadness is a normal part of growing up. However, if children are sad, irritable, or no longer enjoy things, and this occurs day after day, it may be a sign that they are struggling with depression. Some people think that only adults become depressed. Recent research shows that depression is on the rise for young people.
In children, depression can present differently, with symptoms in addition to the above such as:
- Irritability and anger
- Social Withdrawal
- Being more sensitive
- Vocal outbursts or crying
- Low energy or fatigue
- Substance use
- Caring less about school or not doing as well in school
It’s important to note that for many adolescents they also experience anxiety while experiencing depression.
We Can Help with Depression
There are many treatments which are effective at combating depression. Cognitive behavior therapy, or CBT, is a structured psychological treatment which involves working with one of our providers to identify thought and behavior patterns that are contributing to depression. DBT is a similar approach that is designed to provide the individual with a set of life skills including mindfulness, emotional regulation, interpersonal effectiveness, and distress tolerance. Behavioral therapy is also used to encourage rewarding activities to reverse the patterns of avoidance caused by depression.
In some cases, psychotropic medications, in conjunction with therapy, are also a helpful part of combatting depression. Wynns Family Psychology can provide psychiatrist referral resources for treatment, as well as in-house therapy resources for healthy coping skills and tips. In addition to therapy and/or medication, exercise, sunshine, healthy diet, meditation, prayer, and volunteering can play a role in improving one’s mood!
If you or your child are depressed, it's important to seek help. If your child or teen expresses suicidal thoughts, it is crucial to take their concerns seriously and seek immediate help! Parents (or their teens) can contact the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact your local ER and ask for the psychiatrist on call.