Depression (also known as clinical depression or major depressive disorder) is a common but serious mood disorder that affects how you think, feel, and handle daily activities. More than just a bout of the blues, depression isn’t a moral failure or weakness. With depression, a person can’t simply “snap out of it.” Depression is a serious condition that may require long-term treatment and support. When addiction co-occurs alongside depression, it is imperative that both disorders be treated at the same time.
Signs and Symptoms
If you have been experiencing some of the following symptoms nearly every day for at least two weeks, you may be suffering from depression:
- Persistent sad or “empty” mood
- Feelings of hopelessness, guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
- Substance use or addiction
- Loss of interest in hobbies and activities
- Fatigue or decreased energy
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Difficulty sleeping
- A change in appetite or weight
- Thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts
- Unexplained physical problems, such as chronic pain or headaches
Not everyone who is depressed experiences each and every symptom. Some people experience only a few while others may experience many. Depending on the individual and his or her particular diagnosis, the severity and frequency of symptoms and how long they last will vary.
Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses in the United States. Current research suggests that depression is caused by a combination of factors, including genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors.
Risk factors include:
- Personal or family history of depression
- Major life changes, trauma, or stress
- Certain physical illnesses and medications
Depression in Older Adults
As we age, the likelihood that we will experience depression increases. Today, it is one of the top three most common mental health diagnoses for older adults. Depression, especially in midlife or older adults, can co-occur with other serious medical illnesses such as addiction, diabetes, or heart disease. Often, these conditions are worse when depression is present.
Symptoms of depression that may be different or less obvious in older adults include:
- Memory difficulties or personality changes
- Chronic pain
- Fatigue, loss of appetite, or sleep problems not caused by a medical condition or medication
- A desire to stay at home rather than going out to socialize or trying new things
- Suicidal thoughts or feelings, particularly in older men
Our Center for Older Adult Recovery provides comprehensive care for older adults. Every patient works with qualified mental health professionals to devise a comprehensive treatment plan that assesses all aspects of wellness: body, mind, and spirit. Patients of the Center for Older Adult Recovery meet with a primary physician and a psychiatrist, as well as with counseling and psychology professionals, to assess what is most appropriate for each person’s individual needs. Medication, therapies for brain health, light physical activity, chronic pain management, and other therapies comprise each person’s plan for recovery.
Depression in Young Adults
More than 90 percent of people who commit suicide struggle with a mental health disorder such as depression, addiction, or both. For many young people, these conditions are co-occurring, meaning that they happen alongside one another. Together, these form a deadly combination. Like adults, college-aged individuals with severe depression frequently turn to drugs, alcohol, or other risky behaviors in an attempt to numb their mental, emotional, or spiritual discomfort.
Common signs and symptoms of depression in young adults are similar to those of midlife and older adults, but there can be some differences. In young adults, symptoms may include:
- Poor performance or poor attendance at school
- Feeling misunderstood and extremely sensitive
- Using recreational drugs or alcohol
Treatment and Therapies
Depression, even the most severe cases, can be treated. The earlier that treatment can begin, the more effective it is. Depression is usually treated with therapy, medications, psychological interventions, and modalities for those with the co-occurring disorder of addiction.
Antidepressants are medicines that treat depression by controlling the way your brain uses certain chemicals that influence mood or stress. You may need to try a few different antidepressant medicines before finding one that works for you. Psychiatric care by experienced medical professionals includes the appropriate diagnosis and treatment of mental health disorders and medication management.
Antidepressants take time to work, so it is important to give medication a chance before reaching a conclusion about its effectiveness. For this reason, residential treatment can be extremely beneficial for people struggling to recover from depression, especially when addiction is present. This approach can reduce the risk of relapse as wellness of body, mind, and spirit is explored. Medications are tested, counseling is initiated, and solution-oriented interventions are applied.
Several types of therapy (also called “talk therapy” or counseling) can help people with depression. Examples of evidence-based approaches for the treatment of depression include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), motivational interviewing (MI), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), and problem-solving therapy.
Origins Center for Brain Recovery (CBR)
Along with psychiatry and counseling services for the symptoms of depression, psychological and brain health interventions are other important options to explore. At Origins, evidence-based therapies for depression and other co-occurring disorders include:
- Psychological testing and review
- Meditation and mindfulness training
- Individual and group psychotherapy
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
Learn more about Origins Center for Brain Recovery by clicking here.
Continuing Care Recommendations for Long-term Success
A clear and specific plan for lifelong care after primary treatment should include individualized recommendations for recovery. The Origins team approach includes Continuing Care Specialists who work alongside our multidisciplinary professionals from the onset of a patient’s stay. These team members take into account the recommendations of a person’s diagnosis and their personal experience during treatment to develop plans that support permanent success.
Continuing care recommendations at Origins may include:
- Medication management
- Ongoing counseling
- Intensive outpatient programming
- Transitional living
- Exercise and other wellness activities
- 12-Step support groups and fellowship
- Alumni services
When to Get Emergency Help
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. (In the U.S. you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255.) Or, if you think you can do so safely, take the person to the nearest hospital emergency room.