What is depression?

Depression is a serious mental health disorder that includes intense sadness with feelings of helplessness, worthlessness, and hopelessness that can last for days to weeks at a time, and keeps an individual from functioning normally. If left untreated, depression can have a devastating effect.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, an estimated 16 million adults (7%) in the United States suffered from at least one depressive episode in the past year. Although depression affects people of all ages, races, ethnicity, and socioeconomic backgrounds, women are 70% more likely than men to experience depression, and young adults ages 18-35 are 60% more likely than people over 50 years old.

A combination of factors likely causes depression, including genetic, biological, environmental and psychological. Some depression runs in families; however, depression can occur in individuals without family history of depression. Triggers such as trauma, loss of a loved one, a difficult relationship or other stressful situations, can also cause a depressive disorder.

There are no lab tests that effectively diagnose depression. A doctor must talk with a patient and hear about their specific symptoms to diagnose it. However, clinical depression can be hard to diagnose as it can manifest in many ways.

What are the symptoms of depression?

Symptoms of depression can be different for each person, but for many, a depressive disorder changes their daily functioning, and typically for more than two weeks.

Common symptoms include:

  • Changes in sleep
  • Changes in appetite
  • Lack of concentration
  • Loss of energy
  • Lack of interest in activities
  • Hopelessness or guilty thoughts
  • Changes in movement (less activity or agitation)
  • Physical aches and pains
  • Suicidal thoughts

How is depression treated?

There are several ways to treat depression, but the most common treatments are medication and psychotherapy. At Next Step Behavioral Houston, we encourage positive social functioning. In using an individualized treatment plan, we help clients in relieving the stress that comes from assimilating back into everyday life and help them achieve the highest levels of functioning and independent living once they leave treatment. We also use cognitive therapy to defuse negative thoughts and treat depression. A type of psychotherapy, cognitive therapy changes mood patterns by stopping negative, hypercritical, and other types of thinking that can lead to depression, anxiety, and other conditions.

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