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Defeating Depression in COVID Times

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By: Renaissance Recovery

Medically Reviewed by: Diana Vo, LMFT

Last Updated: 7/1/2021

Authored By: Joe Gilmore

Table of Contents

Depression is a common mental health condition, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to cope with.

The CDC estimates that around 16 million adults in the US have had a major depressive episode in any given year. This translates to 6.7% of the population with depression.

Unfortunately, the symptoms of depression often prevent people from getting the help they need.

The good news is, depression is treatable, and you can make a sustained and meaningful recovery with the right help and treatment.

Today, we’ll be guiding you through how to tell if you’re just feeling down or you may be clinically depressed.

We’ll also be highlighting the many effective treatment options at your disposal if life feels like an uphill struggle. By the end of today, you’ll see that you don’t need to suffer in silence and that you can kick back against depression even if it doesn’t seem that way right now.

What Is Depression?

The most crucial thing to understand about depression is that it’s an illness and not a sign of weakness. Depression can affect anybody, and it can strike at any time. 

Classified as a mood disorder, depression is characterized by feelings of deep sadness, hopelessness, and loss that interfere with daily activities.

A patient with depression experiences persistently low moods, often to the extent that it becomes tough for them to function. Not only does this inability to carry out daily activities take a toll, but the ongoing feelings of sadness and resultant lack of motivation can impact all areas of your life, with depression affecting you:

  • Physically
  • Emotionally
  • Mentally
  • Socially
  • Professionally
  • Behaviorally

Now, you should not confuse depression with feeling down. Feeling low is a normal part of life’s ebb and flow. Reacting sadly to upsetting events is normal, too. When these feelings persist, and especially if they are not related to obvious external events, you could be suffering from depression.

While depression is common and affects nearly 1 in 10 Americans at some stage, it’s a serious medical condition that often gets worse without the proper treatment. Those who engage in courses of treatment for depression, though, can expect to see symptoms improve in as little as a couple of weeks.

What symptoms should you be looking out for if you believe that you or a loved one might be experiencing an episode of depression?

Symptoms of Depression

Depression brings about more symptoms than a state of sadness.

Symptoms of depression can affect your body and your mind. These symptoms could be ongoing, or they may come and go. Every individual experiences depression differently.

Men, women, and children also experience depression in a slightly different way

Symptoms of Depression in Men

  • Mood: Irritability, anger, aggressiveness, restlessness, anxiousness
  • Behavior: Loss of interest in normal activities, less pleasure in favorite activities, feeling easily tired, suicidal thoughts, using drugs or drinking excessively, taking part in risky activities
  • Emotional well-being: Feeling sad, empty, or hopeless
  • Sleep patterns: Insomnia, excessive sleepiness, restless sleep, pains and fatigue from lack of sleep, not sleeping through the night
  • Cognitive abilities: Difficulty concentrating, difficulty completing tasks, delayed responses in conversations
  • Sexual interest: Reduced libido, impaired sexual performance

Symptoms of Depression in Women

  • Mood: Irritability
  • Behavior: Loss of interest in normal activities, withdrawing from normal social engagements, suicidal thoughts, thinking more slowly, talking more slowly
  • Emotional well-being: Feeling sad, empty, hopeless, or anxious
  • Sleep patterns: Sleeping too much, waking early, difficulty sleeping through the night
  • Physical well-being: Fatigue, decreased energy, weight changes, appetite changes, headaches, pain, cramps

Symptoms of Depression in Children

  • Mood: Irritability, mood swings, anger, crying
  • Behavior: Getting into trouble at school, worsening grades, avoiding friends and siblings, thoughts of death and suicide
  • Emotional well-being: Feelings of sadness, despair, crying, incompetence
  • Sleep patterns: Sleeping too much, sleeping too little
  • Physical well-being: Loss of energy, changes in appetite, digestive problems, weight gain, weight loss

To recap, individuals tend to experience depression in different ways with various symptoms also varying from person to person.

Now you have an idea of the most common symptoms of depression, how is this condition diagnosed?

Diagnosing Depression

Your doctor may diagnose depression using any or all of the following:

  • Physical examination: Your doctor may conduct a physical exam. He may also ask questions related to your health. Sometimes, depression is linked to underlying physical health problems.
  • Psychiatric evaluation: Your mental healthcare provider will question you about your thoughts, feelings, and behavior patterns. You’ll sometimes be asked to complete a questionnaire.
  • Lab tests: Your doctor may arrange complete blood count. Thyroid testing is also commonplace when diagnosing depression.
  • DSM-5 criteria: The latest fifth edition of DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) lists criteria for depression that you doctor may use for diagnostic purposes.

Now, depression can be broadly cleaved into 3 main types:

  • Mild depression
  • Moderate depression
  • Severe depression

Mild depression

If you suffer from mild depression, your doctor may recommend the following approaches to treatment.

  • Waiting: Often, if your doctor diagnoses you with mild depression, he might suggest you wait for a couple of weeks before taking further action. This period of watchful waiting is often enough for the depressive episode to subside and for normal life to resume.
  • Self-help: Talking through your feelings can be beneficial if you have mild depression. Whether you speak with a friend or family member, or you prefer to engage with local self-help groups for those with depression, there are many ways to clear things up in your head without formal treatment.
  • Exercise: Exercise can improve mood, and becoming more active is one of the most effective ways to combat mild depression. Get those endorphins pumping and become healthier in body and mind.
  • Online resources: You can find many resources to help you work through depressive episodes online. This might be particularly valuable if you dislike spending time around people and you’re socially withdrawn. Educate yourself about all aspects of depression. From online CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) to self-help books and inspirational material, imagination is your only limitation.

Moderate depression

For patients with moderate depression, talking therapy, formally known as psychotherapy, can be a beneficial form of treatment.

From CBT and DBT to general counseling, your doctor will outline your many options for psychotherapy.

Severe depression

If your doctor diagnoses you with severe depression, you might consider antidepressants.

Antidepressants are medicines designed to treat the symptoms of depression. There are many different types of this medication as outlined above. This medication needs to be prescribed by your doctor and used only as intended.

Sometimes, combination therapy can be effective for treating severe depression. This involves a combination of antidepressants and talking therapy. This often works better than using either of these treatments in isolation.

If you suffer from severe depression, it’s normal to be referred to a mental health team rather than an individual. You can expect to meet with specialist nurses, psychiatrists, psychologists, and occupational therapists. This team will deliver a combination of prescribed medications and talking treatments.

Now, depression can be further categorized according to the severity of the symptoms. For some people, depressive episodes are mild and fleeting. For others, these downturns are severe and ongoing.

Types of Depression

As you can see, depression can be categorized in many ways, and there’s another clear division to be made:

  • Major depressive disorder
  • Persistent depressive disorder

Major depressive disorder

This is the more severe form of depression characterized by persistent feelings of deep sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness.

The symptoms of major depressive disorder will not go away if left untreated.

To be diagnosed with clinical depression, you’ll need to experience 5 of the following symptoms or more over a 2-week period:

  1. Loss of interest in most normal activities
  2. Feeling depressed for most of the day
  3. Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
  4. Noticeable weight loss or weight gain
  5. Slowed movement and thinking
  6. Problems with sleeping
  7. Fatigue most days
  8. Recurring thoughts of death and suicide
  9. Loss of concentration

Persistent depressive disorder

PDD (persistent depressive disorder) was once called dysthymia. This is a milder form of depression, but it’s still chronic.

PDD can affect your life more seriously than major depression, as symptoms last much longer. To be diagnosed, you’ll need to have experienced symptoms for at least 2 years.

People with PDD frequently lose all interest in normal activities. Low self-esteem is standard. PDD-sufferers also tend to feel hopeless. Productivity typically suffers.

So, now you have an idea of the various different types of depression, what causes the fog of depression to descend in the first place?

What Causes Depression?

Depression has many possible causes, some biological and others circumstantial.

Here are some of the most common causes:

  • Genetics: You’re at heightened risk of developing depression if there is a history of depression and other mood disorders in your family.
  • Trauma in early childhood: Some traumatic events experienced in childhood later affect the way your body reacts to stressful situations or fear.
  • Medical conditions: Some conditions like insomnia, chronic pain, chronic illness, or ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) put you at increased risk of depression.
  • Drug use: A history of alcohol or drug abuse can increase your risk of developing depression. Around 1 in 5 people with substance abuse also experience depression

Aside from these areas above, common triggers for depression include:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Being overly self-critical
  • History of mental illness
  • Some medications
  • Stressful external events

Commonly, the cause of depression is linked to other elements of the patient’s health and well-being.

In many cases, though, the precise cause of depression is never established.

Fortunately, depression can be treated regardless of the cause. While unearthing the root cause of your depression can simplify treatment, it’s not essential for recovery.

Depression: Treatment

Antidepressants are commonly used to treat moderate and severe depression.

The most frequently prescribed medications include the following:

  • SSRIs: SSRIs (serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are often the first antidepressant a doctor prescribes. This class of drug is considered generally safe. SSRIs cause few troublesome side effects. Examples include Prozac, Zoloft, and Citalopram.
  • SNRIs: Antidepressants like Effexor, Pristiq, and Fetzima are SNRIs (serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors).
  • Tricyclic antidepressants: While medications like Pamelor, Tofranil, and Norpramin can be effective, tricyclic antidepressants tend to cause more serious side effects than the newer forms of medication. This class of antidepressants is now not usually prescribed unless you have tried an SSRI with no improvement.
  • MAOIs: MAIOs are monoamine oxidase inhibitors like Parnate, Marplan, and Nardil that are prescribed when other drug have failed. These antidepressants can have severe side effects. You’ll also need to follow a strict diet as this class of drug interacts adversely with cheeses, pickles, and some wines.
  • Atypical antidepressants: These antidepressants include Wellbutrin XL, Wellbutrin SR, Remeron, and trazodone. These drugs don’t fit neatly into any of the above categories.

CONSIDERATIONS WHEN TREATING DEPRESSION

If you’re considering any course of antidepressants, be sure to speak with your healthcare provider about expectations and side effects.

Antidepressants can be used as a standalone treatment, or they can be used in combination with talk therapies. In some milder cases of depression, talk therapy can be used in isolation.

POPULAR MODALITIES TO TREAT DEPRESSION

Here are the most popular modalities

  • CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy): CBT helps you to better understand your behavior and your thought processes. You’ll learn how to identify triggers that could lead to depression, and you’ll learn better coping skills to head that depression off. CBT will help you to overcome feelings of hopelessness. This therapy recognizes that formative events may have shaped you, but places the focus firmly on your ability to change the way you think, feel, and behave right now. You’ll usually have CBT sessions once or twice weekly over a course of up to 20 sessions. CBT is sometimes delivered in groups.
  • Online CBT: Take advantage of all the benefits of CBT without leaving home. A healthcare professional will guide you through your sessions virtually.
  • IPT (interpersonal therapy): This form of psychotherapy focuses on your interpersonal relationships. You will learn how to communicate more effectively, and you’ll also get support coping with bereavement or any other external stressors. More research is needed to determine the effectiveness of this treatment, although some studies suggest IPT could be as helpful as antidepressants for some patients.
  • Psychodynamic psychotherapy: With this form of psychotherapy, a therapist will encourage you to speak your mind. They will help you to identify any hidden meanings in your thoughts and actions that could be contributing to your depression.
  • Counseling: In counseling sessions, therapists will guide you through clinical depression recovery you’ll be encouraged to work on the problems you’re facing in life so you can identify new solutions.

10 Tips for Coping with Depression

  1. Educate yourself about depression: The more you learn about depression in general and your depression in particular, the stronger your chance of recovery. Learn whether you have any underlying medical conditions. Explore the various treatment options at your disposal. Ask friends and family. Do some research online.  There are many ways to find out more about depression, but all that counts is doing what works for you.
  2. Pack plenty of patience: You might need to try more than one treatment before settling on something that seems to effectively treat your depression. The same applies to therapists. Be patient and you’ll find something that works.
  3. Look for social support: Don’t be afraid to seek help from friends and family if you’re depressed. This is not a sign of weakness. Sometimes, simply telling someone how you feel helps you to gain clarity and helps you to better deal with your problems. Beyond this, the stronger your social network, the more protected you are from depression as isolation often leads to depression.
  4. Make positive lifestyle changes: Exercising regularly can help boost your mood. Exercise boosts levels of serotonin, endorphins, both feel-good chemicals in your brain. Try to get at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise every day if you’re suffering from depression.
  5. Develop healthy sleep habits: The amount you sleep strongly impacts your mood. Sleep deprivation inflames the symptoms of depression making you fatigued, irritable, and moody. Aim for at least 7 hours of sleep each night if possible.
  6. Eat a balanced diet: Eating small and healthy meals throughout the day will help you stay energized and reduce the chance of experiencing mood swings. Avoid sugary foods as you will quickly crash after the spike of energy. Instead, eat plenty of complex carbs for sustained energy throughout the day.
  7. Reduce stress where possible: Managing stress wherever possible can help to minimize depression.
  8. Don’t rely on antidepressants alone: Medication can help to relieve the symptoms of depression, but it’s not ideal for long-term use. Consider some of the many other approaches to treating depression such as exercise, meditation, counseling, and lifestyle changes.
  9. Consider alternative therapies: Your healthcare provider may point you toward alternative therapies like meditation, acupuncture, or St John’s Wort. Even electroconvulsive therapy or transcranial magnetic stimulation are sometimes used when other treatments have failed.
  10. Be prepared for a long and challenging journey: Successful treating depression takes time. Recovery always has its ups and downs, so be strong and you can keep depression at bay, even if you have the occasional blip.

Finding the Right Depression Treatment Program for You at Renaissance Recovery

It’s important to know that: 

  • You’re not alone
  • Depression is treatable
  • We offer many different therapies
  • We can prescribe medication for your depression if needed
  • You can receive a completely personalised long term depression treatment center such as our home at Renaissance Recovery

Find healing and hope at Renaissance Recovery. Our personalized depression treatment program will help you find the pathways to inner healing. 

You will meet our professionally trained therapists as you begin the admission process. They will help you face your problems so you don’t have to walk this path alone. No matter what substance you’re dealing with, and no matter how deep your depression, our evidence-based programs are highly effective.

OPTIONS FOR TREATMENT AT RENAISSANCE RECOVERY 

Some of the programs you can choose from are as follows:

  • Intensive Outpatient Program
  • Partial Hospitalization treatment Program
  • Outpatient Program Services
  • Women’s Treatment Program
  • Men’s Treatment Program 

Seek treatment for depression at a quality addiction treatment center by calling us today at 866.330.9449. We’ll help you find inner serenity and the path that leads to happiness.866.330.9449

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Diana Vo, LMFT

Diana is an addiction expert and licensed marriage and family therapist who has been in the field of mental health for over 10 years.

Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country