Major Depressive Disorder is a commonly misunderstood disorder. Let's review a few frequently asked questions or FAQs about depression. A clear understanding of major depressive disorder is helpful when seeking help for yourself or a loved one.
Basic FAQs About Depression
What Causes Depression?
As with anything as intricate as our mind-body connection, everything that touches us has an effect. Please see, 'Neurobiology of Major Depressive Disorder.' The flavor of the love of our birth families remains deeply ingrained in the filters of our life. The pain others have experienced from thier traumatic events can be infused into us while still too young to deal with it. Labels our life may entice us to own can bring distortions to our sense of self. Personal strengths of any kind require a wisdom we, early on, do not possess. This may cause pain and confusion which then may lead to suffering for ourselves and others. And even if we never meet our birth parents, the flavor of their mental impulses genetically flow within and through us. These effects are cumulative within our life experiences allowing these genetic influences to grow as time goes on.
To take the reins of our life we can recognize the Oneness that already exists deep within us and walk with this guiding force to recognize and correct our dualistic misunderstandings. We can also include our sense of Oneness with those around us. We can choose mentors who seem to have the life experiences we need to gain the wisdom they have earned. We need to see, hear, taste, feel, sense, and think with the clarity our Oneness offers and yet know that each day we will learn more . When listening to others we hear from our spiritual source both within and between us. This type of deep listening or listening in Oneness feeds us. When can then meditate on what we have learned, integrating and differentiating a little more each day. Please see, 'The Oneness Approach to Being Yourself.'
What is the Typical Course of the Illness?
Symptoms of depression typically begins in the late teens to 20s. Women suffer depression twice as frequently as men. As opposed to bipolar disorder, depression generally starts insidiously. It is not unusual when asked when the depression began for someone to say “I’ve think I have always been depressed.” Given the genetic predisposition, frequently other family members have suffered depression. Often, this kind family history of depression may not be remembered as severe and affecting the person's responsibilities for a short time. Unless chronic, it doesn’t usually affect a person’s personality long term.
In Bipolar Disorder, the person can generally name the day the episode began. Additionally, often several people in the person’s family will have suffered a more substantial depressive episodes, mood swings and/or alcohol and drug abuse. Opiates and alcohol tend to be most common. Please see, 'Diagnosing Bipolar Disorder: Wrong Diagnosis Wrong Outcome.'
Major Depression can be associated with loss or prolonged grief. It frequently begins with a person struggling at work as their concentration fails them. This can lead to slowly evolving sadness or a lack of enjoyment of activities that the person previously enjoyed. They may begin to gain or lose weight as is their predisposition. Eventually insomnia enters their life. The common pattern has an individual falling to sleep only to wake every 90 minutes or so with a low energy depressive rumination about the day’s activities. This is unlike the insomnia bipolar disorder which has much more energy and pressured thoughts when awake.
Depression gradually affects the person’s function at home, at work and with friends as they increasingly isolate. This augments to the sense of worthlessness, guilt and low self-esteem. If left untreated, it can eventually lead to hopelessness and suicidal idealization.
Usually family members slowly realize that the person appears more tired and irritable. There is less interest in participating in family activities, friendships or life interests. They may isolate themselves from family members preferring to be alone or with others who require less of them. Often the person with depression may retreat to the bedroom to avoid questions and responsibilities. Eventually, as things worsen, and others begin to confront these changes. A variety of excuses are usually forwarded in an attempt to regain space and avoid responsibilities they can no longer manage. Frustration arises in all spheres of life only worsening the situation.
The person with depression may find themselves angry with those around them and blame them for how they feel. Children begin to struggle as home routines are disturbed and trusted support becomes less available. Recurrent visits to the family doctor often result in negative findings (But please go at least once for a complete evaluation!). This unfortunately leads to expectations by family members that the person ‘should’ get better since 'nothing is wrong'. When they don’t improve further pressures are placed on the person by their family and work responsibilities and the guilt mounts. Anger and irritability further confuse intentions and can lead to family and marital discord. A variety of diffuse pain syndromes can lead to multiple medical evaluations. The pain, anger, irritability etc. can lead to excessive use of pain medications, sleep medications, drugs and alcohol.
What Conditions can be Associated with Depression?
Most people who suffer severe depression have at least one other “cluster of symptoms” that they’re dealing with. Frequently a person may suffer from generalized anxiety disorder. Here a person will describe many years of a slowly waxing and waning worry about just about anything. Often, they refer to themselves as “worry warts”. Panic disorder may be present. Many people can remember having a single panic attack but panic disorder is associated with the fear of having yet another attack. This can lead to a general fearfulness and agoraphobia. This can greatly complicate the person’s personal and family life. As time goes, on “self-medication” can lead to addiction to any number of substances. Diffuse chronic pain can lead to multiple diagnoses including fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, etc.