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Depression is one of the world’s biggest mental disorders. There are an estimated 264 million people all over the world who suffer from this illness (source). The largest growth in depression rates according to the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association Study, published in 2018, is for young people between 12 and 17 followed by those between 18 and 34. Coincidentally, according to this article from 2019, those who are least likely to get treatment for depression are younger people. Sufferers who are between the ages 18-25 take up 10.9% of the overall percentage.
According to this article published in Nature Reviews Neuroscience in 2008, in the US almost 75% of people will suffer from some form of depression in their life.
Studies have also shown that women are more likely to suffer from this mental disorder than men. However, men get affected too. It is likely that men report the problem less than women, so this figure may be higher than we think for men.
Because of depression, around 800 000 people around the world die by suicide every year (World Health Organisation from data for the years 2000-2016). With the right treatment this illness and its consequences can be prevented.
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What Is Depression?
Depression can be defined as a mood disorder that causes a person to constantly feel sad and uninterested in activities that used to be fun or interesting for them. This affects a person’s thinking, thoughts and behaviour negatively. All of this can have an impact on one’s physical and emotional well-being.
Depression is often defined as more than two weeks of serious unhappiness and hopelessness. Depression sufferers often also suffer from anxiety, low self esteem and stress issues.
It’s important to understand depression in order to identify whether you might be suffering from it. Watch this informative video for an in-depth explanation of the debilitating mental health illness.
If you feel like you may be suffering from depression, please take my free depression test. If you are suffering from depression seek help and support from a professional and don’t suffer alone. There is plenty of help and remember depression is more common than you may think. There is no shame or any reason to keep this hidden.
Signs and Symptoms of Depression
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Everyone feels sad or down from time to time, this is often caused by common daily circumstances. These circumstances can include: the death of a loved one, any type of loss, an illness or unemployment. If the following symptoms however, occur regularly it might be time to consult a doctor or psychologist:
- You have a negative outlook on life
- Lacking hope for the future
- Low self esteem and confidence
- Feeling guilty and worthless for no reason
- Loss of interest in hobbies or general life activities which you found enjoyable before
- Dramatic increase in sleep pattern or having difficulty sleeping
- Anxiety and breathing problems
- Irritability and anger
- Change in weight or appetite
- Concentration problems
- Reckless behaviour
- Suicidal thoughts, words or behaviours
If you, or a loved one, have any of these symptoms continuously, you should consider talking to a psychologist to give you depression diagnosis tests for a clear diagnosis. Once you have this you can discuss your next steps.
There are Different Forms of this Mental Disorder
This mental illness comes in many forms and with different signs and symptoms. Some of them are:
Major Depressive Disorder
When the normal depressive symptoms occur most days of the week for two consecutive weeks or longer the doctor will most likely diagnose you with this disorder.
This is diagnosed when the symptoms of this illness stays for two years or longer.
A person with this disease will have different moods. One day they will be incredibly happy and have high energy and the next they will be sad and have little energy. I personally suffered from this form of persistent depression many years ago and felt quite hopeless and helpless. My self esteem was very low and I lost all confidence in my ability to control and improve my life.
In this situation a friend or partner can help you to get help. I was very reluctant to get help or take medication but my wife persuaded me to see someone and I really benefitted from the whole experience. I unloaded myself of the heavy burden of keeping the pain of depression locked away inside and I looked at this from a new perspective, that of my wife and others in my life.
What I Learned From My Experience of Depression and Low Self Esteem
One thing I learnt is that you do need help and guidance to get you out of the black hole of depression and moving in the right direction. A change of thinking is required and the doctor provides support and encouragement but also challenges you to take action to help yourself.
Once you are out of the danger zone and begin to see some light in your life, then self help becomes an option. I changed what I did in life to promote more positive thinking and I have fully recovered and no longer get depressed.
I realised that feeling good about yourself, (your self esteem), and feeling more in control of your life enables you to move forward and back to a normal life. This process begins with a test and correct diagnosis for depression and this will naturally lead on to reducing stress, building self esteem and building hope again.
The biggest obstacles I found to overcoming depression were my resistance to getting help and admitting I needed it, the constant blaming of others or of situations in my life which were causes of the depression and my hopelessness.
In short, if depression and low self esteem are making your life intolerable and miserable, I advise you to do what I did and get help now before it gets any worse. Not just for yourself, but also for the sake of those who love you and care about your happiness.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (ASD)
This will occur mostly during the winter months with the lack of sunlight and the common illnesses that goes along with winter, like flu.
In this extreme disorder people will have very severe symptoms like: hallucinations, delusions and paranoia.
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
This is often found in soldiers who return home and gets flashbacks from their time in war. Any kind of serious trauma can cause this disorder.
A test will help you determine what type of depression you might have. You can learn more about the different types of depression here. Once you understand the severity of your depression and how it can affect your life, you’ll be able to take the necessary steps to treat it.
Treatments and Healing
There are two main treatments for this mental health disorder; therapy and medication.
Most people will use a combination of the two. In this review of research carried out on the effectiveness of therapy, medication or on a combination of the two, the conclusion reached is that patients prefer the combined treatment (therapy and medication) to just medication alone. It also seems that results are better for remission with this combined depression treatment. The research in this field keeps growing. It increasingly shows that these treatments can normalize the changes in the brain that is associated with depression and low self esteem.
Along with these two main treatments it is also important to take care of yourself. Go for a walk to get some exercise, avoid using alcohol, set boundaries and goals for your personal life. Work on your self esteem and confidence levels.
Studies have show that achieving something small can improve the self esteem and make you feel better about yourself. Those who are scared to go to a therapist can also find help online.
When someone suffers from depression it is important to realize that they are not alone. They also need to know to seek help as fast as they can. This illness comes in many varieties with different symptoms. There is a lot of help and information available to help make the right diagnoses and start the healing process.
- Babajide, A., Ortin, A., Wei, C. et al. Transition Cliffs for Young Adults with Anxiety and Depression: Is Integrated Mental Health Care a Solution?. J Behav Health Serv Res 47, 275–292 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11414-019-09670-8
- Blue Cross Blue Shield. (2018). Major Depression: The Impact on Overall Health. https://www.bcbs.com/the-health-of-america/reports/major-depression-the-impact-overall-health
- DeRubeis, R. J., Siegle, G. J., & Hollon, S. D. (2008). Cognitive therapy versus medication for depression: treatment outcomes and neural mechanisms. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 9(10), 788-796.
- James, S. L., Abate, D., Abate, K. H., Abay, S. M., Abbafati, C., Abbasi, N., … & Briggs, A. M. (2018). Global, regional, and national incidence, prevalence, and years lived with disability for 354 diseases and injuries for 195 countries and territories, 1990–2017: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017. The Lancet, 392(10159), 1789-1858.
- World Health Organisation. (N.D.). Mental Health and Substance Use. Suicide data. https://www.who.int/teams/mental-health-and-substance-use/suicide-data
Website Author and Editor Bio
Karl Perera is a fully qualified Life Coach (DipLC), Teacher (MA) and author of Self Esteem Secrets. He has taught at various universities including Durham, Leicester and Anglia Ruskin, Cambridge. He has run More-SelfEsteem.com since 1997 and is an expert in Self Esteem and Self Confidence.