Depression is a mood disorder that impacts millions of lives every year. It impacts everything from sleep and appetite to emotional well-being. When it goes untreated, depression can cause self-harm, risky behaviors, and suicidal thoughts or actions. The word “depression” is used often and casually, though it’s a serious condition that can be extremely destructive. At Sun Behavioral Kentucky, we dedicate our lives to helping those who suffer from this disorder. We want those who are struggling to know they’re not alone and help is available.
It’s important to understand that depression is more than merely feeling “down” or “sad.” It’s a disorder that wreaks havoc on the brain, causing things like memory loss, inflammation, and a decrease in oxygen in the body and brain. Because of this, depression impacts sleep, motor function, behavior, and our immune systems. The impact of depression can be devastating. It can cause the loss of a job or relationship, addiction to alcohol or other drugs, and, in some cases, suicide or self-harm. We lose people to depression every year, but with treatment, these deaths are preventable.
People with depression often compare it to the following:
- Feeling “drained.” Similar to when a battery starts to die, those with depression feel themselves shutting down or “losing power” on a regular basis.
- Living with a “dark cloud” above your head. You’re desperately trying to find warmth and light, but you’re unable to do so because you’re constantly living under a cloud.
- Being “tied” to something you don’t like – day in and day out. You can’t get away from it, no matter how hard you try to rip apart the ropes.
- Drowning. All you want to do is swim to the surface so you can breathe, but you’re being pulled under by the current.
Mental health awareness has increased over the years. We’re starting to take depression seriously, and we’re starting to see its effects in our communities. But many people are still suffering in silence due to fear, stigma, or because they feel unworthy of help. People who aren’t living with depression will (still) often say things like “just eat better” or “exercise more.” It’s never that simple.
Who Is At Risk for Depression?
There’s no set cause for depression, but there are risk factors to look out for. For example, people who have a family history of mental illness are more likely to develop depression. Those who have endured trauma are at risk of developing depression later in life. Stressful living, work, or family situations can sometimes turn into depression or anxiety. Personalities also play a role – a “Type A” personality or a perfectionist may battle depression at least one point in their lives.
People who use drugs and alcohol frequently are also at risk for depression. Drinking or using drugs can give you a “euphoric” feeling, so it may seem unlikely that they cause a change in brain chemistry. But alcohol and other drugs are depressants, so when they’ve worn off, the mind can’t keep up. They also heavily impact your quality of sleep, which the mind and body need for healing.
What are the Symptoms of Depression?
You may not know if what you’re feeling is depression if you’ve never experienced it before. If you think someone you love is experiencing depression, it’s also important to know what to look out for. The signs and symptoms of depression vary, and they’ll show up differently in young adults/teens than they do in adults. Teens and young adults are already dealing with intense adolescent hormones, so distinguishing between normal hormones and depression can be hard. Adults are independent and set in their ways, so it can be a challenge to notice signs of depression. In both teens and adults, depression manifests as feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and self-loathing. Apathy is another common symptom of depression for both teens and adults. This is the feeling of not caring about yourself or the world around you.
For teens, self-loathing will be intense and constant. You may notice changes in the way they dress, the people they hang out with, and the activities they participate in. They might neglect things they once found joy in, like school activities, sports, or hobbies. They may shower, eat, and sleep less frequently. Sleeping too much is also a symptom of depression because it can be a form of escape. Self-harm or suicidal thoughts may also materialize. You might also see drug, alcohol, or tobacco use. Another potential symptom is a disinterest in setting goals or a significant drop in their grades.
With adults, common symptoms usually revolve around lifestyle changes. You’ll see things like job loss, a messy home, or struggles with finances. When depression hits, something as simple as taking a shower can be exhausting. This results in things like poor hygiene. They may also become more isolated or reluctant to see friends. Creative habits might also be on the back burner. Adults will lose the drive to participate in the things that bring them joy.
How is Depression Diagnosed?
If you notice that you or a loved one is experiencing these symptoms, it’s time to see your doctor. A doctor will ask you some standard questions and analyze your symptoms. He/she will also need to rule out any illness, virus, or infection. Now and then, your body will mimic the signs of depression if it’s struggling with something physical. Once your doctor has examined you and ruled out anything like that, he/she can proceed with your diagnosis. You may also be referred to a psychiatrist, psychologist, or a treatment program.
Your doctor also needs to determine what subtype of depression you’re struggling with. Different types of depression require different treatments. Subtypes of depression include major depression, chronic depression, seasonal affective disorder, bipolar disorder, and more.
What is the Treatment for Depression?
Depression treatment looks a little different for everyone. The methods you’re treated with will depend on your subtype of depression. All depression treatment involves one important element: talk therapy. Talk therapy will guide you through this disorder through education, coping strategies, and personal insight. You’ll learn to identify what’s causing your depression and how to combat it. You’ll confront your traumas so you can move past them. You’ll also learn about what causes depression, what it entails, and what to look out for in the future. Therapy is often stereotyped as for people who are “weak,” but that’s no longer true. Evidence shows that therapy can heal many types of mental illness and save lives in the process.
Medication is also used in some forms of treatment. Many decide to try medication in combination with therapy, and it has proven to be successful.
Getting the Best Treatment for Depression
When it’s time to get treatment, it’s okay for you to be a little picky. Make sure that you find a therapist and doctor you trust – you need to feel free to be honest with him/her about all of your symptoms. This can be hard to do, especially in the beginning. The more open you are about what’s going on with you, the quicker you can get some relief.
You also want to find somewhere with a compassionate, educated staff. It’s your right to be treated with dignity and respect when you’re seeking treatment. Remember that 34% of people in Kentucky are living with anxiety or depression right now, so you’re not alone. You deserve to get help from people who know what they’re talking about and who care about your well-being. At Sun Behavioral, our goal is to help everyone in our community live healthier, happier lives. We will listen to your concerns, help you find a program that works, and set goals for your future. You’ll be informed every step of the way.
Frequently Asked Questions for Depression Treatment
How long will I be in treatment?
Time in treatment varies from person to person. Some only need therapy and medication to get through a crisis or a difficult time – they may only need treatment for six months. Others may choose to continue their medication and therapy regimens for years. All of this will be discussed with you in your appointments. Individual therapy treatment is typically once a week in 50-minute increments, but it can be more or less depending on your needs. If you choose an outpatient program, the time on that varies as well. Our staff can answer any additional questions you have when you come in for your consultation.
Can I afford treatment for my depression?
Our admission staff can help check with your insurance to make sure you’re eligible for services (plus what your copays might be.) We want anyone who needs treatment to receive treatment, and we’ll help in any way we can.
If I choose a residential treatment program, what can I bring with me?
You can visit our “What To Bring” page for a full list of items we encourage you to bring (as well as the things we’d prefer you to leave behind.)
We’re so glad you’re here seeking treatment for yourself or a loved one. If you have any questions or you’d like to schedule a consultation, please call us at (859) 429-5188.