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What Is Depression?

Clinical depression, also called major depression, is a common mood disorder that affects hundreds of millions of people around the world.

Depression is characterized by a variety of symptoms that affect a person’s everyday life, including how they work, sleep, think, feel, or handle everyday activities.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, clinical depression can be diagnosed when depressive symptoms are present in someone for at least two weeks.

What does depression look like?

Just like our personalities are unique, the way we experience and process life events is also unique. Therefore, depression can look different from person to person.

Symptoms of depression may include:

  • extreme sadness or anxiety

  • feelings of emptiness or hopelessness

  • persistent feelings of guilt

  • fatigue

  • loss of interest in hobbies or activities

  • thoughts of suicide or death

Not everyone experiences every symptom, and people experience depression in different ways. However, if you are experiencing some of these symptoms and would like to talk, please reach out. If you or someone you know is experiencing thoughts of suicide or death, please call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) right away. Someone is standing by to help 24/7.

Environmental vs. Genetic Depression

There are different kinds of depression, some genetic and some caused by environmental factors. One common type of environmental depression is called seasonal affective disorder, or SAD.

Now that we’re moving into the winter months and the days are getting shorter, it’s common for people to experience SAD. SAD is a type of seasonal depression that sets in around the same time each year and lasts for up to five months at a time, subsiding when the next season comes around.

SAD is typically more common in people with major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder, but absolutely anyone can experience SAD.

Other forms of environmental depression are common. Our environments can have a big impact on how we cope with everyday life. An article published in the US Library of Medicine states that environmental risk factors for depression include poverty, negative family relationships, divorce, child abuse, and other stressful environmental factors.

Another factor when considering if a person is likely to experience clinical depression is genetics. Studies have shown that genetics play a role in depression and other psychiatric disorders, and it has been shown that depression runs in families. People with close relatives with depression are more likely to be predisposed to depression themselves.

The Stanford School of Medicine states that while there is no gene that proves that depression is inherited, it’s estimated that about 50% of the cause of depression is genetic while 50% is environmental.

Treatment Options for Depression

According to the World Health Organization, more than 234 million people around the world suffer from depression and nearly 800,000 cases of depression lead to suicide. With numbers like these, it’s important to seek help whenever you’re experiencing long-lasting or intense depressive symptoms.

Treatment options for depression may include medication, talk therapy, or a combination of the two. At Life’s Journey Counseling, we help patients who are experiencing depression with a variety of modalities including talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, art therapy, and psychotherapy.

If you or someone you know is experiencing depression and would like someone to talk to, please reach out. We’re here to help. You can call anytime at 502-385-4151 or fill out the online form.


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