Depression is a serious mental health condition and it is important for people with severe depression to get the proper treatment to help them overcome or manage their mental disorder. Depression can be caused by a combination of genetic, environmental, and psychological factors. Traumatic events like a car accident or suffering a medical malpractice injury can increase the risk of developing depression.
Depression Disorders and Treatment
It is normal for people to feel down or sad after a bad day, losing a loved one, or going through a break-up. However, when the feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or frustration continue, it may be a sign of a more serious mood disorder. Clinical depression or major depressive disorder causes persistent feelings of sadness and apathy. It can affect how a person thinks, acts, and may interfere with doing normal activities.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), major depression is one of the most common disorders in the U.S. An estimated 17.3 million adults had at least one major depressive episode. A major depressive episode is defined as:
“A period of at least two weeks when a person experienced a depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities, and had a majority of specified symptoms, such as problems with sleep, eating, energy, concentration, or self-worth.”
There is still a lot of misinformation about major depression. Some people still treat depression as a weakness or call for attention. Depression is not just something you can just decide to change. Recovering from or managing depression may require long-term treatment, with psychotherapy and/or medication.
Types of Depression Disorders
Depression can be described in different ways. Major depression or major depressive disorder, is the most common type of depression. This involves persistent feelings of depression most of the time. Other classifications of depression disorders may include:
- Persistent depressive disorder
- Bipolar disorder
- Seasonal affective disorder
- Psychotic depression
- Postpartum depression
- Situational depression
- Atypical depression
Persistent Depressive Disorder
Depression can be classified as persistent depressive disorder if it lasts for 2 years or longer. This is also described as dysthymia, or low-grade persistent depression. With chronic depression, individuals may lose interest in normal daily activities, feel a sense of hopelessness, and low self-esteem that interferes with relationships, work or school, and daily activities.
Bipolar disorder can sometimes be called “manic depression,” often involves extreme mood swings with emotional highs followed by extreme low periods of depression. Mood shifts can affect a person's sleep, ability to concentrate, interaction with others, judgment, activity, and behavior. Bipolar disorder is generally managed with psychological counseling and medications.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that is associated with a change in seasons. In the fall and winter months, when there is less sunlight, many people feel low energy, moody, or depressed. Sometimes called “winter blues,” treatment may include light therapy, medication, and psychotherapy.
Psychotic depression involves depression along with psychotic episodes or symptoms, including hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia. Treatment may involve antidepressants along with antipsychotic drugs.
Postpartum or peripartum depression is depression that occurs around childbirth. Also called “baby blues,” postpartum depression can cause mood swings, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping. Feeling down for a few days or a couple of weeks after birth is not uncommon but if it continues for more than two weeks, it may be a sign of more serious mental health complications.
Depression or a Normal Reaction
Depression often goes undiagnosed because people are not sure if they have a mental disorder or if they are just experiencing normal reactions. After a stressful experience or traumatic event, it is normal to experience sadness or depression. However, when the sadness continues or negative emotions occur absent any recent tragic event, it may be a sign that the sadness they are feeling is more than just a normal reaction.
Many people still have a negative association with mental illnesses, thinking that it is a weakness, character flaw, or that people will judge them. However, it is important to know that things can get better with treatment. People who have put off talking to their doctor about depression later find that relief is possible with medications or therapy.
Symptoms of Depression
Symptoms of depression can be constant, come and go, or vary in intensity based on a number of factors. Common signs and symptoms of major depressive disorder may include:
- Feelings of sadness
- Feeling emptiness or hopelessness
- Inability to experience pleasure
- Preoccupation with past failures and feelings of worthlessness
- Reduced sex drive
- Irritability over small matters
- Loss of interest in normal activities
- Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
- Lack of energy
- Reduced appetite or increased appetite
- Difficulty concentrating or remembering
- Thoughts of suicide
Some people may experience depression while being able to keep it from others but depression often affects an individual's personal relationships, work and school life, and overall health.
Treatment for depression generally involves medication and/or psychotherapy. Patients and doctors may need to try a few different medications to find the right drug and dose combination most effective for the patient with the fewest side effects. Even with medication, many patients with severe depression can benefit from therapy or counseling.
There are a number of medications that may be helpful for people with depression. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) include Prozac, Lexapro, Celexa, Paxil, and Zoloft. Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) include Cymbalta and Effexor XR. Atypical antidepressants, tricyclic antidepressants, and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) are other medications that may provide relief when the patient is not responsive to standard antidepressants.
Causes of Depression
There may be a number of factors that influence who develops depression. There may be multiple causes, including biological factors, brain chemistry, hormones, hereditary traits, and environmental influences.
Depression is often reported by people who suffer a traumatic injury or accident. Traumatic events like a car accident or military combat are often associated with anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, traumatic events can also lead to depression, with or without anxiety. Other traumatic events like child abuse, sexual abuse, or violent sexual assault can also cause a person to suffer depression, feelings of worthlessness, shame, and guilt.
Traumatic injuries that result in physical scarring, disfigurement, loss of vision, or loss of a limb can also cause the victim to suffer depression. These injury victims often get treatment for their physical injuries but it is important to also treat mental injuries, including depression, anxiety, or PTSD.
Brain injuries may also be related to depression. Major depressive disorder is one of the most common psychiatric disorders experienced after a traumatic brain injury (TBI), with as many as a quarter of brain injury patients experiencing depression. Brain injuries can be very complicated and many people who suffer a brain injury may not begin to develop depression until months or years after their injury. Brain injuries caused by lack of oxygen, stroke, or ischemic attack can also lead to depression.
Treating Depression After an Injury or Accident
Depression is common in victims of car accidents, industrial accidents, and medical malpractice. Such a traumatic experience can make it difficult to deal with everyday life. It is important for victims of injury accidents to treat both their physical and mental injuries.
At Gilman & Bedigian, we use our experience, knowledge, and dedication to help victims of accidents and medical injuries. Our aggressive trial lawyers have helped our clients recover millions of dollars in compensation related to accidents and injuries. Contact us online or call our law office at (800) 529-6162 for a free consultation.