Depression is very different from being disappointed or feeling off or sad for a few days, all this can just be life at times. However, when being down interferes with life, nothing matters and it’s difficult to feel happy or vibrant, when just getting out of bed is hard to do, that  needs to be dealt with. Some people may feel generally miserable or unhappy without really knowing why.

When to get emergency help

If you think you may hurt yourself or attempt suicide, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.

A word of caution, don’t mess around this is serious stuff!

Also consider these options if you’re having suicidal thoughts:

Call your doctor or mental health professional.

  • Call a suicide hotline number — in the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255). Use that same number and press “1” to reach the Veterans Crisis Line.
  • In Canada call Canada Suicide and Crisis Hotline this lists provincial numbers.
  • Reach out to a close friend or loved one.
  • Contact a minister, spiritual leader or someone else in your faith community.

If you have a loved one who is in danger of suicide or has made a suicide attempt, make sure someone stays with that person. Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately. Or, if you think you can do so safely, take the person to the nearest hospital emergency room

Symptoms of Depression?

According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of depression could include:

  • Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness
  • Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as sex, hobbies or sports
  • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort
  • Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain
  • Anxiety, agitation or restlessness
  • Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
  • Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide
  • Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches

Causes

It’s not known exactly what causes depression. As with many mental disorders, a variety of factors may be involved, such as:

  • Biological differences. People with depression appear to have physical changes in their brains.
  • Brain chemistry. Neurotransmitters are naturally occurring brain chemicals that likely play a role in depression.
  • Hormones. Changes in the body’s balance of hormones may be involved in causing or triggering depression. Hormone changes can result with pregnancy and during the weeks or months after delivery (postpartum) and from thyroid problems, menopause or a number of other conditions.
  • Inherited traits. Depression is more common in people whose blood relatives also have this condition.

Risk Factors

Depression often begins in the teens, 20s or 30s, but it can happen at any age. More women than men are diagnosed with depression, but this may be due in part because women are more likely to seek treatment.

Factors that seem to increase the risk of developing or triggering depression include:

  • Certain personality traits, such as low self-esteem and being too dependent, self-critical or pessimistic
  • Traumatic or stressful events, such as physical or sexual abuse, the death or loss of a loved one, a difficult relationship, or financial problems
  • Blood relatives with a history of depression, bipolar disorder, alcoholism or suicide
  • Being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, or having variations in the development of genital organs that aren’t clearly male or female (intersex) in an unsupportive situation
  • History of other mental health disorders, such as anxiety disorder, eating disorders or post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Abuse of alcohol or recreational drugs
  • Serious or chronic illness, including cancer, stroke, chronic pain or heart disease
  • Certain medications, such as some high blood pressure medications or sleeping pills (talk to your doctor before stopping any medication)

Complications

Depression is a serious disorder that can take a terrible toll on you and your family. Depression often gets worse if it isn’t treated, resulting in emotional, behavioral and health problems that affect every area of your life.

Examples of complications associated with depression include:

  • Excess weight or obesity, which can lead to heart disease and diabetes
  • Pain or physical illness
  • Alcohol or drug misuse
  • Anxiety, panic disorder or social phobia
  • Family conflicts, relationship difficulties, and work or school problems
  • Social isolation
  • Suicidal feelings, suicide attempts or suicide
  • Self-mutilation, such as cutting
  • Premature death from medical conditions

Prevention

There’s no sure way to prevent depression. However, these strategies may help.

  • Take steps to control stress, to increase your resilience and boost your self-esteem.
  • Reach out to family and friends, especially in times of crisis, to help you weather rough spells.
  • Get treatment at the earliest sign of a problem to help prevent depression from worsening.
  • Consider getting long-term maintenance treatment to help prevent a relapse of symptoms.

Types of Depression

Common types of depression include:

  • Major Depression: According to the National Institute of Mental Health, Major Depression is the most common type. Usually, it is two or more weeks of depression symptoms like  feelings of worthlessness, feelings of guilt, and a lack of interest in things you used to love.
  • Bipolar Disorder: Bipolar is not the same as depression. However, it often includes symptoms of depression – one’s mood will swing from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows.
  • Postpartum Depression: Having a baby can change the hormones in one’s body. Sometimes, this hormonal change can trigger symptoms of depression. About 16% of mothers will experience postpartum depression within a year of childbirth.
  • Premenstrual Dysmorphic Disorder (PMDD) Hormonal changes can be a wild ride for your brain and body. PMDD is a type of depression that affects women during their period. It includes symptoms that are more severe than your usual PMS.
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): Sometimes, people can experience depression around major changes in seasons. Usually, people experience SAD during the winter when the weather is cold and the days creep shorter. Often, SAD improves with the next change in seasons. That doesn’t mean you need to wait it out to get help. Reach out to your Doctor. And, of course consider joining the ADF community.

If you identify with a particular description try to not create a story around it. This is meant as a starting point, to begin the journey of having the life you want.

We are simply not taught how to get out of anxiety let alone never get in. It takes wisdom, skills and community. This is the purpose of the ADF “Way Out Method”.

Why try to figure out the path yourself? You have better things to accomplish and experience with your time.