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MHDS Depression Awareness Month Blog

Depression is a brain health disorder; it’s OK to talk about it.

Posted on 09/30/2021

Depression is a brain health disorder; it’s OK to talk about it.

Feeling down and not yourself lately? You may be suffering from depression. Depression is real, it’s serious and more than 16 million American adults struggle with major depression in any given year. Depression can affect any person at any age, and it can affect each person differently. Luckily, there’s hope and help available through Iowa’s Mental Health and Disability Services (MHDS) Regions. Here are some common questions about depression and information on how our brain health experts can help.   

What are the types of depression?

There are different types of depression that can range in severity. These include major depressive disorder, persistent depressive disorder, seasonal depression, postpartum depression, bipolar disorder and psychotic depression. While each is different, they are all treatable.  

 

  • Major depressive disorder: Major depressive disorder is exactly what the name describes. This is when an individual feels depressed most, if not all the time, and it never really goes away without help.
  • Persistent depressive disorder: Persistent depressive disorder is depression that lasts for two years or longer. People who experience persistent depressive disorder may have mild depression or major depression.
  • Seasonal depression: Also known as seasonal affective disorder, this occurs when someone’s mood changes with the season. Individuals may experience bouts of depression in the winter months when there’s less sun and fewer opportunities to be outside.
  • Postpartum depression: Postpartum depression mostly affects people who have recently given birth and sometimes their partners. This can last for weeks or months following the birth of a child.
  • Bipolar disorder: Bipolar disorder is a form of depression that comes with extreme ranges. Individuals may experience periods of elation followed by episodes of extreme depression.
  • Psychotic depression: Individuals who suffer from psychotic depression typically experience major depression combined with psychotic symptoms such as paranoia, hallucinations and delusions.

Why does depression happen?

The cause of depression isn’t always clear-cut. Many individuals may experience depression because of chemical imbalances in the brain. But many other factors can lead to depression. These include, but are not limited to, genetics, traumatic life events, medications, hormonal imbalances and drastic or stressful life changes. Even chronic physical pain can lead to long-term depression for some.

What are the symptoms?

Depression can severely impact everyday lives, making it a challenge to perform normal functions. Depression symptoms can be mild for some but paralyzing for others. Depression may start as bouts of sadness and irritability but increase in severity where individuals feel hopeless, have a loss of interest in normal pleasures and even have physical health problems. And in the most severe scenarios, depression can lead to thoughts of suicide and death. Symptoms that may indicate depression include:

  • Increased emotional outbursts, such as crying or anger, even over menial matters
  • Poor performance at work, school or other activities
  • Frequent anxiety or feelings of uneasiness
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness for no reason
  • Loss of interest in spending time with family and friends
  • Changes in physical hygiene
  • Mental cloudiness or inability to think and express yourself clearly
  • Changes in physical health such as weight loss, weight gain or unexplained aches and pains
  • Increased drug and alcohol use
  • Thoughts of suicide and death (*Note: If you or someone you know is experiencing thoughts of suicide, call the Your Life Iowa line at 855-581-8111 or text 855-895-8398 for immediate crisis support. You should also call 9-1-1.)

What can be done?

Unfortunately, depression can go undiagnosed for many of the afflicted. While people may have no problem getting screened for physical health problems, they often avoid seeking care for brain health issues such as depression. But getting help is easy and can lead to better days ahead. It’s time for individuals struggling with depression to take charge, but they don’t have to go it alone. Iowa’s MHDS Regions provide a continuum of services that lead individuals to better brain health.

Our team of experts can connect individuals with screening to help diagnose depression. We can help connect individuals to clinicians and experts who can treat depression, and we can also point those suffering in the direction of a counselor or therapist. Reach out to Iowa’s MHDS Regions today at www.iowamhdsregions.org or by calling the Your Life Iowa line at 855-581-8111 or text 855-895-8398.

Sources

Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “Understand Anxiety and Depression: Facts & Statistics,” https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/facts-statistics

Healthline, “Depression: Facts, Statistics, and You,” https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/facts-statistics-infographic#Types-of-depression

WebMD, “Types of Depression,” https://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/depression-types

Harvard Health, “What causes depression?” https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/what-causes-depression