Depression

Everyone gets the blues now and then, but if your feelings of sadness linger, are excessive or interfere with daily life, you may suffer from depression. With the right treatment, people with depression can find a path to recovery. Learn more about depression and how Banner Health can help below.

What Is Depression?

Depression is a very common but serious mood disorder characterized by persistent sadness and lack of interest in daily life. While we all experience low periods in life, depressive episodes are categorized as lasting two or more weeks and can last months or more.

Types of Depression

There are several different types of depression including:

Postpartum Depression 

About 1 in 7 women experience postpartum depression and anxiety during the first year after giving birth. Women with postpartum depression often feel anxious or overwhelmed and may have persistent, unwanted feelings. These feelings can make it difficult for new mothers to perform daily care activities for themselves or their baby.

Seasonal Depression 

Seasonal depression typically occurs along with winter months when there is less natural sunlight. Winter depression is often accompanied by increased sleep, weight gain and social withdrawal. This type of depression returns annually.

Bipolar Disorder 

While bipolar disorder is different from depression, people with bipolar disorder also suffer from episodes of extremely low moods that also meet the criteria for major depression. The difference between the two is that people with bipolar disorder also experience extreme high moods called “mania.”

High-Functioning Depression

Patients with high-functioning depression appear fine by all outward appearances, but are struggling internally. It is common for patients with high-functioning depression to perform daily tasks and activities normally. Though symptoms are generally less severe than major depression, high-functioning depression still requires treatment. 

Signs and Symptoms of Depression

If you have experienced some of the following feeling or symptoms persistently every day for the last two weeks, you may have depression:

  • Feeling hopeless or pessimistic
  • Feeling worthless or guilty
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies or activities, especially ones you previously enjoyed
  • Irritability
  • Decreased energy or fatigue
  • Memory or concentration issues
  • Problems making decisions
  • Problems sleeping, including oversleeping or waking up much earlier than usual
  • Restlessness
  • Weight or appetite changes
  • Aches, pains, digestive issue or cramps that arise without cause
  • Thoughts or attempts of suicide

If you show any of these depression symptoms, talk to your doctor.

Sexual Dysfunction and Depression

Sexual desire begins in the brain with chemicals (neurotransmitters) that help brain cells communicate with each other. Normally, these chemicals communicate with each other to stimulate blood flow to the sex organs, but for people with depression, these chemicals are out of balance. Low levels of neurotransmitters can also dull pleasurable feelings. As a result, people with depression can experience low or nonexistent sexual desire, which interferes with sexual function and pleasure.

Additionally, certain medications for depression can have side effects that cause sexual problems. Depending on the dosage, some antidepressants can make it difficult for both men and women to initiate, participate fully in or enjoy sex.

Memory Problems and Depression

Depression can change how a person thinks. Many people with depression experience memory problems and may have trouble retaining information. This can make it difficult to focus on work or tasks, think clearly or make decisions.

Screening and Diagnosis for Depression

Doctors often diagnose patients with depression by asking a series of questions, often about daily behaviors and lifestyle habits. These screenings can occur during a routine checkup or during pregnancy and postpartum visits. To make a proper diagnosis, a doctor may also rule out other conditions that can cause depression with a physical exam, lab tests, and questions about family history.

Depression Treatment

Depression is treated on a case by case basis. Usually, depression can be treated with medications, psychotherapy or a combination of the two. At Banner Health, we offer our Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) program, which combines the concepts of cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness principles to help prevent recurrent episodes of depression.

Additionally, we can help you understand the nature of your mind and body, and in turn, respond and aid in the reduction of suffering. This clinic teaches patients both formal and informal practices that introduce a mindful attitude into daily life.

Additionally, your doctor may recommend electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and other brain stimulation therapies, which are effective at treating more severe types of depression.

There are other at-home treatment options to combat the effects of depression such as:

  • Exercising and staying active
  • Spending time with people you love and trust
  • Letting others help you
  • Setting realistic goals, such as expecting your mood to improve gradually, not immediately
  • Postponing important decisions
  • Continuing to self-educate about depression

If you are experiencing depression, the caring and compassionate staff at Banner Health is here to help you get back to feeling like yourself. From diagnosis through treatment, we’re with you every step of the way.