What Is Depression

There are many depression warning signs that may be overlooked by the afflicted person, his or her family and even a personal physician. In order to have a clear picture of what is depression, there are several basic symptoms that typically indicate a problem. Daily agitation, inability to function in a daily routine, extreme moodiness and insomnia are just some of the more common effects of a depressive disorder. While many of the symptoms are somewhat overlapping, there are many different classifications that require a different approach for treatment. Bipolar, chronic, major and trauma related depressive disorders are the general categories that health care professionals use to distinguish between types. Then, there are some depressive disorders that do not fall neatly into any model and these are tossed into a catch all category of non-specific disorders.

Depressive symptoms are many times a combination of physical and psychological difficulties manifested by debilitating symptoms that must be addressed from a combined treatment approach. Some people may experience acute episodes of the problem which should serve as depression warning signs for family members and friends. Acute symptoms can ultimately manifest themselves in suicide attempts or harmful behavior to the patient or others that should be circumvented before they occur. Unfortunately, sometimes family members or friends are not aware of the manifestations and mistakenly attribute symptoms to "just being down". One of the main classifications that are apparent among patients proves to be the category of major depression.

This disorder usually develops from a severe life trauma such as a relationship termination through death, divorce or other loss. It can also occur as a result of major changes or disappointments in life that leave the person feeling like their world has totally caved in. Understanding what is depression and what can simply be a normal reaction to some of life's difficulties may take the analysis of a professional. However, if emotional and psychological reactions to any traumatic event persists in intensity and length of time, major depression may be the ultimate diagnosis. Especially if the normal life of a person is plagued with unhappiness, feelings of worthlessness and/or failure, help should be found as soon as possible.

Another classification is chronic depression which can be milder, but extremely prolonged in duration. Depression warning signs for chronic depression are milder than major depression, but are generally feelings of moodiness for over a two year period. Its symptomology includes fatigue, lack of appetite, and lack of self worth that constantly follows the sufferer throughout every day and night. The level of intensity may not be as severe and functionality is not as hindered as with major episodes. However, any particular traumatic event or severe change in a person's life can catapult chronic symptoms into the major classification. Many people who have chronic medical conditions that they struggle with for years develop symptoms of chronic depressive disorder.

Sometimes it is hard to determine which comes first in some cases, the physical problems or the psychological problems since both are so intertwined in many illnesses including mental disorders. Those with chronic illnesses over a long period of time are particular subject to chronic depressive episodes, but may manage to function in life while juggling depression warning signs of unhealthy moods and feelings. Professional counseling is especially effective in helping people who suffer with chronic depressive symptoms as they learn what is depression and how to deal with ongoing life problems. Medications are sometimes prescribed as well for those who face long term physical difficulties that may never be resolved. While chronic psychological problems are difficult to live with for many people, the severity usually never reaches the same proportions as major depressive problems.

Bipolar illness is an especially difficult issue to deal with and will require the help of health care professionals to sort out the particular problems associated with each person. Patients of undetected bipolar disorders may not even understand what is depression simply because of the high and low mood swings of the disorder. Those who suffer with bipolar symptoms always exhibit at least one manic episode which plunges them into a state of heightened emotional excitement and sometimes a frenzy of activities. "For the Lord God will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed." (Isaiah 50:7)

After a manic attack, the patient is plunged into deep despair that is totally debilitating. This disorder requires serious managed care by a doctor who prescribes medication and lifestyle changes to keep the episodes manageable. Each person with bipolar problems presents with varying symptoms and reactions to episodes as well as treatments. Any type of depressive disorder changes the way a person feels, thinks and behaves so it is important to receive help as soon as possible if there is any question as to symptoms or problems. There are many caring doctors, counselors and health care professionals that can provide assistance to anyone who exhibits depression warning signs. There is also support for family members that are struggling with issues of how to help loved ones who are experiencing depression.

Definition Of Depression

The general definition of depression is a psychological disorder that affects a person's mood changes, physical functions and social interactions. In order to know how to treat depression in any one patient, professionals must understand the root causes of it for the particular individual. Depressive symptoms vary greatly from person to person as well as do the causes. As a result, treatment protocols are varied and depend on the fundamental philosophy of each medical or psychological professional. That is why it is very important to find help that is based on a sound understanding of all the issues involved in the oftentimes complicated topic of depression.

Almost all academic understanding about the definition of depression is based on a medical model that assumes all depressive symptoms are fundamentally the presentation of an 'illness'. Much like the presentation of any common physical illness in an individual that can be tested and treated by scientific methods, protocols regarding how to treat depression from the same medical model has been formulated over the years. It is considered a mental illness and is listed as such in modern organizations such as the National Institute of Mental Health and the American Psychiatric Association. There are overlapping psychological and physical issues that are agreed to be causative factors by most professionals.

Since the definition of depression includes the consideration of physical aspects that may play a role either as causative or resultant factors, it is hard to define whether the 'dog wags the tail or the tail wags the dog' in many case studies. This has led to a disagreement at times between secular and Christian philosophies that include the diagnosis and treatment for depression. The secular world view tends to state that depression is an illness thereby implying that there is relatively little human responsibility in dealing with the symptomatic behavior associated with the problem. On the other hand, some philosophies that purport to embrace a Christian world view can further burden a suffering person's guilt and condemnation while neglecting to include all causative factors.

Professional counselors, medical doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, pastors and Christian leaders can all be found that have varying viewpoints on the definition of depression as well as how to help those who suffer. For those who deal with depression in a family member or in themselves and want help in coping, there are some general tips to keep in mind while looking for the best treatment for depression. First, determine if symptoms such as hopelessness, sadness, fatigue, lethargy or inability to function continue for over two consecutive weeks. Of course, if there are any acute symptoms such as suicidal thoughts and complete disconnection from reality, it is wise to get crisis help immediately through a hospital or doctor's office. For those who experience symptoms for over two weeks, help should be sought out in order to deal with the underlying causes.

A general way to determine if depressive episodes are related to physical or emotional problems is to determine if there are any circumstantial factors that spurred the onset. For those who have had a death in the family, job loss, family disappointments, shattered aspirations or other tragic circumstances, extreme moodiness and inability to function can be most likely related to reactions to circumstantial factors. "He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds." (Psalm 147:3) If, however, a depressive episode occurs without any change to routine circumstances in a person's life, many professionals suggest that a thorough health examination should be the start of protocols on how to treat depression in these patients. Some depressive symptoms are related to body changes due to hormones, hyperthyroidism, and certain diseases or illnesses. Many times, patients who are properly treated for their physical problems will return to their usual state of personality and may need no further treatments. Other individuals may struggle with personal or relationship issues that slowly draw them into a state of depressive responses which can be mild or severe.

There are counselors, pastors and other professionals who understand how to assist people in discovering the wellspring of relief that can be found by applying biblical principles to daily living. This can be a very viable and successful understanding of how to treat depression in those who properly respond. Sometimes depressive symptoms are so severe that they can cause physical problems to occur such as digestive problems, a suppressed immune system, pain and headaches. A complicated overlap occurs when it's hard to determine if depression has caused a physical illness or a physical illness is causing depression. There are Christian clinics and medical professionals that specialize in combining the application of spiritual principles and physical treatments to the total person. Many times in advanced cases of depressive disorders, hospitalization or outpatient therapy is needed to initially stabilize the person for subsequent follow up over a period of time.

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