Depression affects millions of people worldwide. Current estimates are that 121 million suffer from depression globally and that one in ten American adults will suffer some form of depression in their lives. Often people will wonder if what they are feeling is depression or just a case of the “blues”.
The most common mental health issue diagnosed today, depression is often called the “common cold” of mental health. With depression being this common, it is important to know some of the symptoms and causes.
Am I Depressed?
There are several types of depression under the current guidelines used to diagnose mental illness. These include mild to severe depressive mood disorder, bipolar disorder, dysthymia, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and situational depression.
The end result is the same. Depression can and often will affect every aspect of your life if not treated.
Sleep disturbances, Lack of energy or feeling fatigued, Eating disturbances, Feeling down, Feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness, Suicidal thoughts or plans are the general signs and symptoms of depression. If you are experiencing any of such symptoms please take the following short depression test.
This short little quiz will give you an idea of where you stand on the depression scale. These simple little 20 questions test will tell you how depressed you might be. Simply click the answers that apply to how you have felt and behaved during the past week.
Take the Depression Test
Why am I Depressed?
There are several known causes why you might be depressed. There are also some unknown causes. Some of the most common causes of depression are:
A chemical imbalance in the brain. There are certain chemicals that assist in messages being transmitted throughout the brain, called neurotransmitters. These include Serotonin, Dopamine, Norepinephrine and Epinephrine. When these naturally occurring chemicals are low in the brain, or are not readily available, then it affects the messaging system. In turn it will cause our mood to be low.
Hormonal imbalances. Hormones affect the chemical messengers. When these hormones are out of balance, it directly affects how available the neurotransmitters are. Most often seen in low testosterone, menopausal changes, peri-menopause, premenstrual syndrome, poly-cystic ovarian syndrome, and postpartum. All of the affected hormones are related to sex drive and feeling good.
Medical conditions. Some medical conditions such as diabetes affect neurotransmitters as well as the central nervous system. Diabetes is an endocrine imbalance, particularly affecting the pancreas. The endocrine system is also part of the hormonal system.
Life stressors. There are several stressors in life that can affect mood and result in what is called situational depression. These include:
- Marriage or divorce
- Birth of a baby
- Changing residences
- Death of a loved one
- Illness of self or a loved one
- Starting or leaving a job
- Starting a new relationship
- Suffering a recent traumatic event
- Being the victim of a crime
All of these factors can cause a temporary form of depression that typically starts within three months of the event and lasts less than six months.
There is one more form of depression called maladaptive grief. This is when a person who is grieving cannot seem to continue with basic activities of daily living, constantly stuck in the grief mode with no relief of symptoms.
Grief typically will last a life time, but there will be an eventually continuation with life after some adjustment to the grieving person’s loss. When this adjustment is not made in a reasonable amount of time (and that is not two weeks, it could be as long as 1 year), then they are said to have maladaptive grief.
But don’t give up hope! All forms of depression is treatable.