Depression Specialist Overland Park, KS
Money, fame and success does not prevent depression. J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, told Oprah Winfrey in 2010:
“It’s so difficult to describe depression to someone who’s never been there, because it’s not sadness. Instead, it is a cold absence of feeling – that really hollowed out feeling.”
What Is Depression?
Depression (major depressive disorder or clinical depression) is a common but serious mood disorder. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working. To be diagnosed with depression, the symptoms must be present for at least two weeks.
Depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the U.S. Current research suggests that depression is caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors. It is estimated that 16 million American adults experience a depressive episode or on-going depression each year.
Depression can happen at any age, but often begins in adulthood. Depression is now recognized as occurring in children and adolescents, although it sometimes presents with more prominent irritability than low mood. Many chronic mood and anxiety disorders in adults begin as high levels of anxiety in children.
Depression, especially in midlife or older adults, can co-occur with other serious medical illnesses, such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and Parkinson’s disease. These conditions are often worse when depression is present. Sometimes medications taken for these physical illnesses may cause side effects that contribute to depression.
What are the symptoms of depression?
If you have been experiencing some of the following signs and symptoms most of the day, nearly every day, for at least two weeks, you may be suffering from depression:
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
- Feelings of hopelessness, or pessimism
- Feeling reclusive because you are self-conscious about your mood
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
- Decreased energy or fatigue
- Moving or talking more slowly
- Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
- Appetite and/or weight changes
- Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
- Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease even with treatment
Depression? You are Not Alone . . .
Celebrities or famous people who have spoken about their depression include Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, John Hamm, Lady Gaga, Michael Phelps, Kristen Bell, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ashley Judd, Ryan Phillipe, Sherly Crow, Terry Bradshaw, Buzz Aldrin, Tipper Gore, Wayne Brady, Jim Carrey, Robin Williams, Abraham Lincoln, Ernest Hemingway, Winston Churchill, Charles Dickens, Leo Tolstoy and Sigmund Freud.
What are the risk factors for depression?
The risk factors for depression include:
- Personal or family history of depression,
- Major life changes, trauma, or stress
- Certain physical illnesses and medications
- Isolation, loneliness or a lack of socialization with others
- Self-destructive personal habits such as a lack of exercise, poor nutrition, alcohol or drug abuse, gambling
What types of treatment are available for depression?
Depression, even the most severe cases, can be treated. The earlier that treatment can begin, the more effective it is. Depression is usually treated with medications, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two. If these treatments do not reduce symptoms, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and other brain stimulation therapies may be options to explore.
Antidepressants are medicines that treat depression. They may help improve the way your brain uses certain chemicals that control mood or stress. You may need to try several different antidepressant medicines before finding the one that improves your symptoms and has manageable side effects. A medication that has helped you or a close family member in the past will often be considered.
Antidepressants take time – usually 2 to 4 weeks – to work, and often, symptoms such as sleep, appetite, and concentration problems improve before mood lifts, so it is important to give medication a chance before reaching a conclusion about its effectiveness. If you begin taking antidepressants, do not stop taking them without the help of a doctor.
Sometimes people taking antidepressants feel better and then stop taking the medication on their own, and the depression returns. When you and your doctor have decided it is time to stop the medication, usually after a course of 6 to 12 months, the doctor will help you slowly and safely decrease your dose. Stopping them abruptly can cause withdrawal symptoms.
Several types of psychotherapy (also called “talk therapy” or, in a less specific form, counseling) can help people with depression. Examples of evidence-based approaches specific to the treatment of depression include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy (IPT), and problem-solving therapy.