Feelings of Despair and Hopelessness

You don’t really know what is wrong with you. For weeks now you feel frozen in place, unable to get anything done amidst a sense of profound fatigue and listlessness. Although you desire to resume your normal activities, you instead find yourself avoiding people in preference to solitude. Some days are so bleak that the feelings of despair and hopelessness seem to consume you.

When you are unable to bounce back from a recent emotional setback, instead becoming stuck in a persistent state of sadness and despair, there is a high probability that you are suffering from a depressive episode. Major depressive disorder impacts over 16 million of us each and every year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, making it the second most prevalent mental health condition affecting Americans.  

Depression is different that a typical bout with the blues that we all experience from time to time. Depression is a debilitating mental illness that can significantly disrupt our lives and impair our ability to function at even the most mundane tasks. At its worst, depression can become so severe that we might become a danger to ourselves.

It is imperative that any prolonged feelings of despair and hopelessness are treated proactively under the guidance of a mental health provider. Depression can usually be treated successfully. A variety of treatment methods can help individuals by reducing the symptoms of depression and actively managing the disorder effectively. Learn here how to identify the signs of depression, the treatment options for depression, and lifestyle changes that can compliment treatment.

What Are the Signs of Depression?

Identifying the signs of depression can begin with noticing persistent feelings of despair and hopelessness that do not resolve, even after several days. But a diagnosis of depression involves a mental health practitioner who uses the diagnostic criteria from the DSM-5, as well as some screening tools, such as the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) and the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAM-D).

When a cluster of five or more depression symptoms exist that have persisted for more than a month, the doctor will diagnose it as major depressive disorder. The symptoms of major depressive disorder include:

  • Sadness and feelings of despair and hopelessness
  • Withdrawing from activities usually enjoyed
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Slowed motor and cognitive functioning
  • Changes in sleeping habits
  • Fatigue, lethargy
  • Irrational feelings of guilt or shame
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Thoughts of suicide

If there is any risk of suicide, please immediately contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255.

Why Some People Become Depressed While Others Sort Things Out

It is still a mystery as to why some people develop depression while others do not. All people will experience disappointments, loss, financial woes, and relationship problems at some point or another. So why are some individuals able to cycle through the setback and more forward in life while others may get “stuck” in the despair?

So far, science does not have a definitive answer to that question. Research in neurology continues to identify certain brain characteristics in patients with depression through brain mapping and other methods, however this area of study has a long way to go. For now, some of the potential contributing factors include:

  • Genetics
  • History of abuse
  • Chemical imbalance
  • Hormones
  • Temperament or personality traits
  • Continuous adverse events or traumas
  • Certain medical diseases
  • Substance use disorders
  • Side effects from certain medications

What Are Some Treatment Measures for Depression?

Treatment for depression will primarily involve both antidepressant drug therapy and psychotherapy. There are now nearly 30 different antidepressants on the market from which a doctor can prescribe a trial. The trial period takes about 4-6 weeks before the effects of the drug are realized. If there is no tangible change in symptoms, the doctor will select a different drug, or change the dosing of the initial trial drug.

Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, involves one-on-one or group sessions led by a psychotherapist or psychiatrist. The goal of psychotherapy is to identify unresolved emotional issues that might be a factor in the depression. Working through any past traumas or painful events with a therapist can be immensely healing. Also, behavioral therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, help the individual change negative self-messaging that keeps them stuck in self-defeating thought patterns.

Holistic therapies, such as accessing mindfulness techniques, hypnotherapy, and meditation, can compliment the traditional therapies. Yoga, equine therapy, journaling, eating nutritiously, and getting regular exercise are also helpful in helping to heal depression.

The Treatment Specialist Offers Free Online Information About Mental Health Disorders

The Treatment Specialist is a trusted resource providing important information for those who struggle with mental health challenges. Offering free guidance to those impacted by depressive disorders, The Treatment Specialist can offer a lifeline in tying times. Depression is treatable, so don’t delay, reach out to The Treatment Specialist today at (866) 644-7911.

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