According to the National Institute of Mental Health, Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is one of the most common mental illnesses in the United States. MDD is characterized by a persistent feeling of sadness and or loss of interest in activities.
Depression can affect your thinking, feelings, and behaviors. In severe cases, you may have difficulties with daily life and may feel life isn’t worth living.
SoCal Mental Health’s Orange County mental health program provides you with a clinical team of therapists, psychiatrists, and psychologists who are equipped to help you with your depression symptoms. We offer different types of evidence-based therapies and medication management when appropriate. We recognize that each individual has unique needs and will create a customized treatment plan that is the best fit for you.
Sadness is a normal part of the human experience and is usually fleeting. One of the differences between sadness and major depressive disorder is the length of time you experience these feelings of sadness. MDD is characterized by experiencing symptoms of depression for at least two weeks for most of the day, almost everyday.
MDD is characterized by several symptoms:
- Feelings of hopelessness, guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
- Persistent sadness or anxiety
- Irritability or restlessness
- Loss of interest in activities
- Struggling to concentrate, make decisions, or remember
- Changes in weight or sleep
- Thoughts of suicide or death
Females are more likely to report mild to moderate symptoms of depression, making an MDD diagnosis more common among females. Males tend to report more severe depression symptoms and suicidal thoughts or actions. Male depression tends to go underdiagnosed and under-treated due to gender biases and the lack of expression of negative emotions.
Although the exact cause for depression is unknown, it is theorized that there is a genetic, biological, environmental and psychological component to why people suffer with depression.
Primary risk factors for MDD include:
- Environmental — Life’s struggles, stressors, and challenging situations have been linked to people with depression, but not everyone who experiences these environmental challenges develops depression.
- Exposures Before Birth — Exposure to drugs, toxic materials, medical conditions and stressors while in the womb may contribute to depression.
- Genetic — Abnormal or impaired brain chemistry may be a cause for depression. If you have family members who struggle with depression that can also increase your risk.
There are risk factors that can lead people to develop depression, but not everyone who experiences these risk factors develop depression and this is not comprehensive.
Other risk factors include:
- History of abuse or neglect
- Chronic medical conditions
- Family history of depression or mental illness
- Substance abuse
- Loss of a loved one
MDD is a serious condition that can progress if left untreated. Depression can lead to physical illness, as well as behavioral and emotional problems.
If untreated depression can lead to:
- Heart disease or diabetes due to excessive weight gain
- Misusing or abusing drugs and alcohol
- Panic attacks and social anxiety
- Suicidal thoughts, attempting suicide, or committing suicide
- Physically harming oneself through cutting or other behaviors
- Suffering from premature death
Early treatment for depression is key to avoiding these complications and finding relief from your depression symptoms.
Treatment for depression can be vital for an individual to find recovery. Typically depression is treated with therapy as well as medication if needed and appropriate.
At SoCal Mental Health we offer several different types of therapy to best help with your depression symptoms:
- Psychotherapy – Otherwise known as talk therapy, is used on an individual and group basis to help reduce and treat the root causes of your depression.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – A type of evidence-based psychotherapy that focuses on recognizing and changing your thinking and behaviors that are harmful to you.
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) – A type therapy aimed to give individuals new skills to help with acceptance and change. This therapy is performed through individual sessions, group therapy, and in-the-moment coaching.
- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) – A type of psychotherapy used to help individuals’ thinking and behaviors be in line with their personal beliefs and to be engaging in the present moment.
In addition to therapy forms of treatment, lifestyle changes may also help decrease your depression symptoms. Choosing nutritious foods, exercising, and getting enough sleep can aid in the treatment for depression. Avoiding alcohol can also help with depression symptoms because alcohol acts as a depressant to your nervous system.