What Is Depression?

Do You Suffer From Depression?

At some point in their lives, most people will occasionally feel sad or down although some people are more prone to these types of feelings than others. Usually these feelings are short-lived and will normally pass within a couple of days. But, when you suffer from depression, it tends to interfere with your normal daily life and causes pain (both physically and emotionally) for both you and those around you that care about you. Depression is a mental illness that very common and very serious.

Many people who suffer from depression will never do anything about it, they tend to think that it is normal or that it will pass on its own. But for the majority, even the ones who suffer from the most severe types of depression, there is help and they do tend to get better with proper treatment. Medications, psychotherapies, and many other methods are available and can effectively treat people who suffer from depression.

what is depression

Some Common Forms of Depression:

Major Depression—has many severe symptoms that can and will interfere with the ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy a normal life. Episodes of Major Depression can occur anywhere from one to several (most common) different times within in a person’s lifetime.

Persistent Depressive Disorder—is a depressed mood that can last a minimum of a couple of years. Any persons that have been diagnosed with Persistent Depressive Disorder may have episodes of major depression along with periods of less severe symptoms, but these symptoms must last for at least two years.

There are also forms of depression that are slightly different, or may develop under unique circumstances, which include:

  • Psychotic Depression—which occurs when a person has severe depression in addition to some form of psychosis. Examples include: having delusions or disturbing beliefs that are false, hearing or seeing upsetting things that others cannot (hallucinations), feelings of paranoia, etc.
  • Postpartum Depression—which is much more serious than the “baby blues” that many women experience after having given birth. This is when hormonal and physical changes, in addition to the new responsibilities that come with a newborn, start to become overwhelming. It is estimated that 10 to 15 percent of most women will experience postpartum depression after giving birth.
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)—which is characterized by the onset of depression during the winter months when the days are much shorter than usual; the depression will generally lift once spring arrives. This type of depression is very common in Alaska. SAD may be treated effectively with “light” therapy, however nearly half of those with SAD will need more than just “light” therapy alone. Antidepressants and psychotherapy can reduce SAD symptoms, either alone or in combination with “light” therapy.

Bipolar Disorder, also referred to as manic-depressive illness, is not as common as the major depression or persistent depressive disorders listed above. Bipolar disorder is characterized by cycling mood changes—from extreme highs (mania) to extreme lows (depression).

Many of you who know me know that I have suffered from Major Depression/Bipolar Disorder most of my adult life. The first symptoms occurred during early adulthood and have continued throughout my life. I have been on several different types of treatment, some that worked and some that made matters worse, and have even been hospitalized more than once because of my depression. If you are having any signs of depression or just think you do, I encourage you to seek help. Depression is something that can be treated over time and many do tend to get better. In my case, most of the effects of the treatments were short-lived and I am forced to continue seeking alternatives.

Depending on where you live, you may even qualify for disability if you are plagued by depression. If you are and you do wish to apply for disability, I would highly recommend you do so at your earliest convenience or have someone else apply for you on your behalf. Visit http://www.ssa.gov/disabilityssi/apply.html or call 1-800-772-1213 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday (they are located in VA so I believe these are EST times). If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you can call them at TTY 1-800-325-0778 for assistance. Be prepared to answer endless questions and provide plenty of proof and detailed documentation of your illness.

Also be prepared to have your claim denied after you have done everything that was asked of you and jumped through every hoop that the state has demanded…which doesn’t make sense if you ask me. If you could everything that they want, then you wouldn’t be asking for help in the first place. My claims have been denied many times since 2008 and each time I had to write lengthy appeals. If you are denied then you should hire a lawyer, you will be given a list of available lawyers in your area if you request them when you talk to your rep at the social security offices. It has been over two years since I filed my last claim and I am still waiting for the appeals court to re-evaluate my case. It took them one year to reject my initial claim and over a year now since my last appeal. It’s a good thing I’m not sick or anything and have plenty of time to wait… Yes, that was supposed to be sarcastic. It’s rather difficult to express sarcasm in written text.

Either way, just make sure that you file as early as possible and expect a long wait and lots of hoops and obstacles to be put in your path. Also, you probably won’t notice this online, but make sure to also file for SSI. I did not know this the first few times I applied, and when I spoke to someone from the hotline, she told me that I should’ve applied for SSI a long time ago since my income was affected by my illness.

Just don’t give up and try to remain strong. There are many hotlines, support groups and chat rooms that you can visit if you really need someone to talk to, just do a Google search for what is available in your area.

Coming next: What are the causes of depression?


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