Feeling sad or depressed can happen at any point in our lives, most of the time is related to stressful events such as problems at home, difficulties in our workplace, financial struggles, having an illness or any type of losses that we experience during our lifetime. Once the stressful event is removed or solved, we get to our usual mood.
Depression, as a mood disorder, is quite different as it consists of a protracted and consistent sense low mood, hopelessness, changes in our level of energy (mostly decreased), lack of appetite, disrupted sleep patterns, unable to find motivation, not being able to enjoy life. This level of depression also impairs our ability to relate to family members and friends.
When depression comes to the point of causing distress and impairment in our life, it is time to look for help. Depending on the severity, timeframe of symptoms, clinical presentation as well as environmental factors, we could have different categories of diagnoses: Adjustment Disorder, Dysthymia, Major Depression. Bipolar Disorder needs to be considered as a possible diagnosis.
Depression can be associated to suicidal ideas and behaviors. This is an alarming sign that tells us that urgent help is needed.
One of the problems with depression is that it can become chronic and it can cause episodic flare-ups. If untreated, a depressive disorder can increase in frequency and severity to become chronic and disabling.
The objective of early diagnosis and treatment is to improve the prognosis overtime and help reduce the emotional, mental, and chemical stress on the brain.