Clinical depression is one of the most common disorders affecting all ages. Worldwide, about 5 percent of adults have been diagnosed with depression at least once – that’s over 400 million people.
You’re certainly not alone if you’re experiencing symptoms of depression.
Depression is a mood disorder with people experiencing symptoms on a recurrent or situational basis.
There may be moments when it’s hard to tell whether you’re feeling sad or experiencing clinical depression. Feeling sad is a normal part of life. But if you’ve noticed that you’ve begun to feel down regularly, you may be dealing with depression.
What’s the difference between sadness and clinical depression?
The difference between sadness and depression can be blurry at times. Here is how you can tell whether you’re feeling one over the other:
Sadness is a normal human emotion we all experience. It’s a natural reaction to situations that cause upset, pain, or even anger. Of course, there are varying degrees of sadness, but like other emotions, the feeling fades with time.
Depression can be ongoing with symptoms impairing your daily functioning in different areas of your life.
What are the symptoms of clinical depression?
Depression looks different for everyone. Typically, if you experience the following general symptoms of depression nearly every day for at least two weeks, you may be living with depression:
- Feeling sad, listless, or anxious
- Feeling hopeless and worthless
- Feeling irritated, annoyed, or angry
- Excessive crying
- Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Low energy or chronic fatigue
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Moving or talking slowly
- Sleep issues
- Appetite or weight fluctuations
Symptoms won’t all develop at once. Depression may develop slowly, allowing you to still function in most areas of life until it builds, suddenly becoming debilitating.
If depression goes untreated or is severe, some may experience thoughts of suicide, self-harm, or attempt suicide.
What causes and risk factors for clinical depression?
There are several possible causes of depression, ranging from biological to environmental. Remember, there’s not just one cause that triggers depressive symptoms. It could be a multitude of factors. While knowing one or two factors can be helpful, it’s more important to seek treatment than chase down what might have caused depression.
Common causes include:
- Brain chemistry. A chemical imbalance in the parts of the brain that manage mood, sleep, thoughts, and behavior may be the cause in people who have depression.
- Early childhood trauma. Events in our early development can affect how people react to fear or stressful situations.
- Family history. If a family member has been diagnosed with depression, there is a higher risk of developing depression.
- Hormone levels. Changes in hormones, especially in females, during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, postpartum, or menopause.
- Medical conditions. Certain conditions can put you at a higher risk of depression, like chronic illness or pain, cancer, or disability.
Common risk factors include:
- Sex and gender. Females are twice as likely to experience depression than their male counterparts. Many people who identify as something other than cisgender experience a much higher rate of depression.
- Genetics. There is an increased risk if there is a family history of depression or other mood disorders.
- Financial. Financial problems and low social status can increase the risk of experiencing depression.
- Certain medications. Certain drugs are known to cause feelings of depression (e.g., birth control).
- Vitamin D deficiency. People who live in places with harsh winters or aren’t able to get much sun exposure may be low in vitamin D. Many studies have shown the link between vitamin D deficiency and depression.
- Situational experiences. Life events can affect people differently and cause depression. Common life events can include moving, starting a new school or job, death of a loved one or family pet, marriage, divorce, or even a new baby.
How is depression treated at CBT Baltimore?
The good news is that many forms of treatment can help improve depressive symptoms. At CBT Baltimore, we like to approach depression from all angles:
- We work with you to uncover healthy thought patterns, helping you identify your deeper beliefs. This practice of noticing positive thoughts will help build new neural pathways in the brain.
- As therapists, we will observe, understand, validate, and help you manage your emotions in each session.
- We will tap into behaviors that may trigger feelings of depression and help you find ways to incorporate proactive behaviors that will help you manage and lessen your depressive symptoms like:
- Improving your bedtime routine
- Time management
- Identifying accomplishments
- Focusing on nutrition
- Spending time with friends
- Strategies to improve your finances
- Getting involved with your community
- Increasing physical activity
If you would like to incorporate medication into your treatment plan, we will happily discuss the options available and what type of medication would be a good fit for you.
Therapy for Depression
If you’re currently experiencing thoughts of suicide, please call the free national suicide hotline – 988 – it’s available to you 24/7 by call or text.