What do depressed people think about? What does it feel like to be depressed? Depression isn’t grief, and it isn’t a simple case of the blues. Instead, it’s a diagnosable mood disorder marked by a long list of debilitating symptoms, including overwhelming sadness, loss of appetite and low energy.
Major depression is an incredibly common mental health disorder in the United States — and it’s on the rise. According to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 7.8% of adults in America experienced a major depressive episode in 2019. That’s nearly 20 million people.
Even when depression isn’t major — for example, when it’s moderate or seasonal — it’s a life-altering condition. In this post, we’ll explore some of the ways depression manifests and then talk about treatment options and recovery.
What Do Depressed People Think About?
You can’t seem to emerge from the funk you’re in. Favorite hobbies seem uninteresting. You feel exhausted and would rather sleep than socialize. Sound familiar? If you’ve been feeling this way for a while, you may be suffering from depression.
People outside the recovery community can’t always grasp what depression means. They assume sufferers simply feel sad, or that they’re dealing with transient grief. They chalk postnatal depression up to “the baby blues” and cheerfully tell people with depression to take a brisk walk, pull themselves together or snap out of it.
Physical exercise and time can both help with the symptoms of depression, but they’re not silver bullets. Some people find themselves crushed under the weight of chronic depression for years. Depression feels different than sadness, and it manifests differently than grief. It’s also extremely difficult to shake, even with treatment.
People with clinical depression usually experience several of the following symptoms every day for more than two weeks in a row:
- An overarching feeling of hopelessness
- Persistent sadness
- Feeling empty inside
- Feeling worthless
- Loss of interest in hobbies
- Difficulty making decisions
- Constant exhaustion
- Low energy
- Loss of appetite
- Digestive issues
- Weight loss
- Physical aches and pains without a clear cause
- Suicidal thoughts
Although depression often develops after a trauma or crisis, the condition doesn’t always stem from a specific event. Some experts believe that chronic depression has a genetic cause, or that it occurs because of a chemical imbalance in the brain. The truth is usually more complex — and professional assessment is important for successful depression treatment.
Types of Depression
Depression isn’t a one-size-fits all illness. Lots of things factor into a diagnosis — and there are a large number of varieties of depression. Let’s look briefly at a few different types:
Persistent Depressive Disorder
Also called dysthymia, persistent depressive disorder is a chronic, low-level type of depression. PDD lasts two years or more, and hallmarks include a persistent feeling of hopelessness or deep sadness, coupled with low energy.
Major Depressive Disorder
Major depressive disorder is also known as clinical depression. Symptoms include two or more weeks of persistent sadness, irritability, insomnia, lack of energy and loss of interest in things you usually find pleasurable.
Commonly called manic depression or manic-depressive disorder, bipolar disorder affects about 2.8% of the U.S. population. People with bipolar disorder develop highly energized or manic moods. At the other end of the bipolar cycle, they fall into a deep depression.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Also known as seasonal depression or major depressive disorder with seasonal pattern, seasonal affective disorder strikes over the winter months. Individuals with seasonal depression experience lower moods in autumn and winter and feel relatively upbeat in spring and summer.
Caused by hormonal changes and a lack of sleep, many new mothers experience the “baby blues” for a week or two after they give birth. Also called major depressive disorder with peripartum onset, postpartum depression is different: It’s chronic, it’s more severe and it doesn’t go away quickly without treatment.
When people develop hallucinations, paranoia or delusions in addition to major depression or bipolar disorder, they’re often diagnosed with psychotic depression. Sometimes called major depressive disorder with psychotic features, this type of depression often triggers an inpatient stay.
Find Yourself Again With FHE
You know what sadness feels like. This is different. This time, there’s something darker going on. You don’t enjoy the things you used to love, and you’ve mentally disconnected from friends and family. It’s time to seek real help — and help is what we do here at FHE Health.
At FHE, we tailor our depression treatment options to meet your unique needs. Treatment programs include:
Also known as talk therapy, counseling is extremely helpful for all types of depression. You’ll work with a counselor, psychologist or psychiatrist trained in talk therapy who will help you talk about issues and come up with effective coping strategies. Dialectical behavior therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and other behavior therapies can also help.
Lifestyle changes can completely alter the course of depression. Healthy eating, regular exercise, weight loss and meditation all promote physical health as well as mental health. These natural options help to boost serotonin production as well as self-esteem, making them essential tools in the fight against low mood.
There are lots of prescription medication options for depression treatment. Some medicines work better than others, and some patients need to try several medications before they find the right one. Most medications for depression fit into one of the following categories:
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs): Citalopram (Cipramil), fluoxetine (Prozac or Oxactin) or paroxetine (Seroxat)
- Selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs): Duloxetine (Cymbalta), venlafaxine (Effexor XR) or desvenlafaxine (Pristiq)
- Tricyclic antidepressants: Amitriptyline (Elavil), imipramine (Tofranil) or clomipramine (Anafranil)
- Atypical antidepressants: Bupropion (Wellbutrin), vilazodone (Viibryd) or mirtazapine (Remeron)
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs): Phenelzine (Nardil), tranylcypromine (Parnate) or isocarboxazid (Marplan)
- Antipsychotics: Quetiapine (Seroquel), aripiprazole (Abilify) or risperidone (Risperdal)
Some people need to take more than one medication to experience results. Individuals with bipolar disorder or psychotic depression, for instance, might need to take an antipsychotic like Abilify with an SSRI like Prozac. We keep up to date with the very latest research here at FHE, so we can discuss cutting-edge medication options with you.
If you’re ready to turn the page on your depression symptoms, give FHE Health a call today at (833) 596-3502. Our dedicated team of mental health professionals is standing by to help you find the right path out of depression and back into the light. Let’s talk soon.