Am I having depression symptoms?

Depression symptoms are evaluated based on pattern. It is normal to have some depression symptoms when significant adverse events happen, such as loss of loved one or depression during divorce. When feelings of sadness appear randomly and stay for two weeks or longer or if you experience recurrent depression, then it may be time to seek some form of treatment for depression.

What are symptoms of depression?

Comorbid anxiety, loss of interest, general feelings of discontent, guilt, hopelessness, loss of interest or pleasure in activities, mood swings, or sadness, agitation, excessive crying, irritability, thoughts of “Am I Depressed?”, restlessness, or social isolation, early awakening, excess sleepiness, insomnia, or restless sleep, excessive hunger, fatigue, or loss of appetite, lack of concentration, slowness in activity, or thoughts of suicide, weight gain or weight loss related to poor appetite, recurrent depression, negative thoughts.

What are some types of depression?

  • Major Depression:

    • Significant impairing symptoms which affect ability to function. During the peak of symptoms one may be unable able to get out of bed due to low energy, with isolate from others, experience thoughts of suicide, and other symptoms listed above.
  • Persistent depression:

    • Depression lasting over two years, may also be referred to as dysthymia or or chronic depression.
  • Bipolar Disorder and depression

    • This disorder is further broken down into bipolar disorder type 1 and bipolar disorder type 2. Bipolar type 1 consists of periods of mania and depression, the symptoms may present as subsequent or mixed at the same time. Bipolar type 1 is differentiated by type two by the severity manic symptoms. Symptoms of mania in bipolar type 1 consist of at least 7 days of persistent elevated mood, insomnia, excessive energy, reckless behavior, at least one incidence of psychosis during mania, paranoia and others (Pinto et al., 2020). Bipolar type 2 consists of 4 days or less of the symptoms mentioned above with no incidence of psychosis during mania (Pinto et al., 2020).
  • Psychotic depression

    • Although less common, a patient may experience hallucinations, delusions, or paranoia while experiencing severe or significant depression.
  • Postpardum Depression

    • Women who experience depression after childbirth with emergence of symotoms of depression listed above.
  • Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder or PMDD

    • Symptoms of depression experienced from two weeks to until or during the duration of menstrual period. Symptoms of depression may manifest as hostility or anxiety.
  • Feelings of sadness related to a significant event.

    • Typical treatment is therapy unless feelings persist longer than 6 months.

Are depression symptoms caused by my genes?

There is strong familial link between genetics and depression symptoms. A common phenomenon when diagnosed with depression is to be closely related to someone else in your family who experience the same or similar symptoms. Psychiatry has evolved to utilize genetics to identify the best treatment options for depression. This is a simple swab test that will break down your predictability to respond to certain  types of medications.

What are some treatments for depression symptoms?

]When considering treatment options, your provider will determine pattern of symptoms, evaluate severity, consider past treatments tried, determine motivation for symptom relief, and other factors to tailor an appropriate and effective treatment plan (Demyttenaere et al., 2019).

One important step prior to seeking treatment to answer the question, “Am I depressed?” is to ensure you are well and healthy by visiting your primary care provider to rule out any potential medical causes of depression, such as hypothyroidism or anemia. Therapy is typically attempted first to help implement coping measures to alleviate depression symptoms.

Exercise, especially high intensity exercise has been proven to be an effective treatment for mild to moderate depression (MD ZEMBERI et al., 2020). Details such as your diet must be taken into consideration, are your meals nourishing and healthy? Or is there a significant intake of sugars and fats?

If deemed appropriate from your mental health provider, common depression treatments include Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors SSRI or  Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake inhibitors SNRI medications due to tolerability. The antidepressant medications Tricyclic antidepressants (TCA) or Monoamine oxidase inhibitors or MAOI medications are not typically attempted as a first-line trail due to their increased incidence of side effects.

Is there a depression cure?

A very common question is, “is there a cure for depression?” Depression symptom longevity can vary and may be chronic in nature and there is no specific depression cure. Treatment approach will depend on the underlying cause or type of depression. Typically, those who experience recurrent depression and have success with medication to alleviate of symptoms are usually on depression medication long term. Although a depression cure does not exist, depression can dissipate without treatment. Once started on an antidepressant, it is important to adhere to your medication schedule and avoid abrupt discontinuation, as this can prescipitiate a serotonin withdrawal from causing symptoms such as:

  • Increased anxiety
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Headaches
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Flu-like symptoms, including achy muscles and chills
  • GI symptoms
  • Electric shock sensations
  • Emergence of depressive symptoms or recurrent depression

Only you and your doctor can determine if stopping an antidepressant is right for you and will require monitoring for depressive symptoms to come back (Kendrick et al., 2020).

Pinto, J. V., Saraf, G., Kozicky, J., Beaulieu, S., Sharma, V., Parikh, S. V., Cervantes, P., Daigneault, A., Walji, N., Kauer-Sant’Anna, M., & Yatham, L. N. (2020). Remission and recurrence in bipolar disorder: The data from health outcomes and patient evaluations in bipolar disorder (HOPE-BD) study. Journal of Affective Disorders, 268, 150–157. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2020.03.018

Demyttenaere, K., Frank, E., Castle, D., & Cindik-Herbrüggen, E. (2019). Integrating Patients’ Expectations into the Management of Their Depression: Report of a Symposium at the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology Congress. Advances in Therapy, 36, 73–90. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12325-019-01038-w

MD ZEMBERI, N. F. N., ISMAIL, M. M., & LEONG ABDULLAH, M. F. I. (2020). Exercise Interventions as the Primary Treatment for Depression: Evidence from a Narrative Review. Malaysian Journal of Medical Sciences, 27(5), 5–23. https://doi.org/10.21315/mjms2020.27.5.2

Kendrick, T., Geraghty, A. W. A., Bowers, H., Stuart, B., Leydon, G., May, C., Yao, G., O’Brien, W., Glowacka, M., Holley, S., Williams, S., Zhu, S., Dewar-Haggart, R., Palmer, B., Bell, M., Collinson, S., Fry, I., Lewis, G., Griffiths, G., & Gilbody, S. (2020). REDUCE (Reviewing long-term antidepressant use by careful monitoring in everyday practice) internet and telephone support to people coming off long-term antidepressants: protocol for a randomised controlled trial. Trials, 21(1), 1–15. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13063-020-04338-7

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