Depression is a very common mental health condition that effects about 5% of people in the world. In the US, it is estimated that about 7% of American adults have depression every year. More than 16% of U.S. adults — around 1 in 6 — will experience depression in their lifetime.
With the pandemic, this is even more of an issue than before.
Mild to Moderate Depression –This is something I commonly see in my office alone or with other physical or mental health concerns.
Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD) PDD is also known as dysthymia. Symptoms of PDD are less severe than major dep
ression. But people experience PDD symptoms for two years or longer. To me, this is an extension of the longevity of the first category.
Depression with Anxiety Disorders– These two things are often found together and can feed off of each other and sometimes is difficult to separate.
Depression with Alcohol
Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) Major depression (clinical depression) has intense or overwhelming symptoms that last longer than two weeks. These symptoms interfere with everyday life and are often disabling, and therefore dangerous to the individual.
Bipolar depression: People with bipolar disorder have alternating periods of low mood and extremely high-energy (manic) periods. During the low period, they may have depression symptoms, sometimes very severe depression.
Perinatal and postpartum depression: “Perinatal” means around birth. Many people refer to this type as postpartum depression Perinatal Depression can occur during pregnancy and up to one year after having a baby.
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD): Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder is a severe form of premenstrual disorder (PMS).
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD): seasonal depression, or seasonal affective disorder, usually starts in late fall and early winter. It often goes away during the spring and summer. Occasionally this can be seen cycling in other seasons.
- Persistent low mood, feeling sad, feeling down or blue or ‘empty’
- Irritable or angry, cranky, less patient with self or others
- Loss of interest or enjoyment in activities you used to enjoy, such as
- Physical – less able to experience pleasure in physical things such as the food you used to like now tastes bland or uninteresting, etc
- Social – People who used to love meeting with friends, now feel apathy about getting together, etc.
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering things, and/or making decisions
- Fatigue, physical, mental, and/or emotional
- Sleep disturbance – insomnia or over-sleeping
- Overeating or loss of appetite
- Psychomotor Disturbance –
- Agitation from inner tension and lead to things like increase fidgeting, repetitive actions like hand-wringing or pacing, etc.
- OR slowing down where there is slowed down movement or speech, or thoughts.
- Feeling less good about yourself (loss of self-confidence) and increasing self-critical
- Digestive problems that don’t go away with treatment
- Chronic headaches, body aches, cramps that won’t go away
- Feeling guilty, shame or worthless and/or feeling helpless
- Thoughts of self-harm or suicide
Remember, a person does not need to have all of these symptoms to be struggling with depression. Everyone is different, so some of these are enough.
Men’s symptoms of depression can seem different than what we often associate with depression and down mood. For more information, Please see my page on Men and Depression.
What is your philosophy around prescription anti-depressants and psychiatric medications?
Prescription medications for depression and other mental health issues are powerful tools, but also have powerful side effects for many people. They can and do literally save people’s lives. But they also sometimes stop working or create enough side effects that people do not want to take them anymore. I am well-versed in psych medications and believe that have a place. I look at each person as an individual and work together with the patient and their other doctors to determine the course of action. Sometimes that is adjusting medications and adding natural medicines to optimize the function of those medications to minimize side effects. Sometimes I help people wean off of medications, switch medications and some people need to be on medications long term for their best quality of life. Treatment and the use of medications are very individualized.
How experienced and comfortable are you with treating people struggling with depression?
I have worked with hundreds of people over the years with depression of one kind or another. Many with mild mental health symptoms and some with more severe. For all folks with more serious mental health issues (like Bipolar and Major Depression and schizophrenia), I require they work with a psychiatrist in conjunction with the work they do with me.