Thursday, October 18, 2012

Major Depressive Disorder… or are you just depressed?

Things are about to get a little depressing around here. But that doesn’t mean we need to be sad about it! 

I’ve mentioned it many times, but I’ve never gone into greater detail about, dun Dun DUN!

Depression and Major Depressive Disorder…. Or! Depression vs. Major Depressive Disorder

Oh wait, there’s one more: Dysthymic Disorder

What the hell are you talking about? And why does it seem like things are going from bad, to worse, to worst? Or bad to worst to worse?  Whatever.

First of all, depression is a mood disorder and a very real mental health issue. It’s not something that’s just being made up in your own mind. “Just smile,” and “Snap out of it,” are not helpful or useful pieces of advice in dealing with depression.  But what’s with all the different designations? Simple. Because we live in a society that likes to categorize every bit of minutia it can and our health insurance companies need something specific to bill. Okay, there’s a bit more to it than that. So let’s break it down shall we?


Think of how you feel today? Would you describe yourself as generally sad? Melancholy? Depression used to be known as simply melancholy. And it’s a very common feeling. One that can be caused by an incredible number of things.  It’s usually described as feeling sad, blue (how does one actually feel blue?) unhappy, miserable, or down in the dumps. Periods or episodes of depression will affect just about every single person alive at some point during their life. 

The sun is just a little bit dimmer, the sky a little bit greyer; moving seems to take more effort and nothing is as appealing as it once was. Depression can change or distort the way you see yourself, your life, and those around you. Depression can make everything seem more negative and give you an attitude to match. And it’s impossible to believe that any problem can be solved in a positive way, or even solved at all.

Depression is not a choice. No one wakes up in the morning and says, “Yanno what? I think I want to be in a pissy mood and feel like the world is against me, but just for today.” It’s not that anyone with depression wants to believe that things are more difficult and never going to end well. It actually feels inevitable.

In short, life generally sucks. Fortunately the main difference between depression and Major Depressive Disorder is duration. Depression can last a few hours, a few days, even a couple of weeks… and that’s actually pretty normal. While any period of depression is important, it’s also okay. It never feels good, but you should never feel guilty for feeling depressed or not always being your usual self.

Some things to consider if you think you may be dealing with depression –

Symptoms of depression can include:

·         Agitation, restlessness, and irritability
·         Becoming withdrawn or isolated
·         Difficulty concentrating
·         Dramatic change in appetite, often with weight gain or loss
·         Fatigue and lack of energy
·         Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness
·         Feelings of worthlessness, self-hate, and guilt
·         Loss of interest or pleasure in activities that were once enjoyed
·         Thoughts of death or suicide
·         Trouble sleeping or too much sleeping
·         Depression can appear as anger and discouragement, rather than feelings of sadness as well.

These feelings can be inspired (read: triggered) by many very normal life events.

·         Sleeping problems
·         Stressful life events, such as:
o    Breaking up with a boyfriend or girlfriend
o    Failing a class
o    Death or illness of someone close to you
o    Divorce
o    Childhood abuse or neglect
o    Job loss
o    Social isolation (common in the elderly)
·         Certain medications or medical conditions
·         And let’s not forget how alcohol and drugs can contribute to depression as well.

Things can get even more fun when you’re a teenager or pre-teen too, when depression strikes because:

·     The normal process of maturing and the stress that occurs with it (*** this is one of the reasons medical professionals don’t diagnose personality disorders before 18. The body and brain are still maturing and hormones are just going nuts to begin with***).
·         The influence of sex hormones
·         Independence conflicts with parents
·         Bullying or harassment at school or somewhere else
·         Lack of social skills
·         Learning disabilities
·         Poor parenting or caregiving

All of these things can contribute to depression. And once depression hits; Every. Little. Thing. Can make it worse. You may not even realize things in your life are building up and producing the effects that are ultimately depression. Some days it hits and it’s like taking a truck to the face. Other times it’s so gradual that you barely even notice when it started or that anything was really happening at all,  until one day you realize that it feels like you’ve always felt this way. 

Sounds like a typical day at the office for me. And by “office”, of course I mean, “life in general”.  Which is why I’m not considered depressed, but to have Major Depressive Disorder….

Which you can find out more about tomorrow (or Monday b/c I might do an Ask Haven, tomorrow ;)).

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