Depression disorder is one of the most common mental health conditions in the United States. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, over sixteen million adults have suffered at least one major depressive episode in their lives. Another three million people struggle with persistent low-level depression, known as dysthymia, while still others deal with situational depression triggered by significant life changes and other external factors.
Although depression is prevalent, it’s also an extremely complex disorder. Different people are affected by depression in different ways, and doctors have yet to identify an exact cause. However, there are several risk factors that can increase your likelihood of developing a depressive disorder.
Risk factors for depression disorder
A depressive episode is characterized by persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness, as well as a loss of interest in daily activities. Depression disorder is thought to be caused by a combination risk factors, including:
- Family history. If one or more of your family members has suffered with depression disorder, you may be more likely to get it yourself.
- Alcohol or drug use. People will often use drugs or alcohol as an escape from painful emotions, which exacerbates symptoms. Persistent substance abuse can also bring about depressive episodes.
- Chronic illness. Depression can co-occur with serious conditions such as cancer, diabetes, or heart disease. In addition, side effects from medications used to treat chronic illness can trigger depression.
- Abuse or trauma. Painful events that have occurred in your past can often manifest themselves in depression later in life.
- Major stress. Going through a significant life change, or losing someone close to you, can cause distress and may significantly impact your ability to function.
Depressive disorders with specific triggers
There are also certain types of depressive disorders that have specific triggers. While numerous factors contribute to the development of these conditions, here are a few forms of depression that occur under unique circumstances:
- Postpartum depression (PPD). With PPD, a new mother experiences at least one major depressive episode after giving birth, making it difficult to care for her new baby.
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). Sometimes described as a more severe form of PMS, PMDD can last for two weeks out of every month, and in many cases, the symptoms can be disabling.
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD). People suffering from SAD experience depressive episodes, but only during a specific time of year, usually winter.
Depression treatment options
If you’re struggling with any form of depression, there are many safe and effective options for treatment. Since the signs and symptoms may differ from person to person, no two treatment plans will look exactly alike, but two of the most common methods of treatment are medication and psychotherapy.
Antidepressants, such as SSRIs or MAOIs, work to alter brain chemicals that cause depressive episodes, while cognitive behavioral therapy can help replace negative patterns of thinking with healthier, positive ones. Finding the right course of treatment for depression can take a while, and often requires patience, commitment, and oversight by a knowledgeable and trusted mental health provider.
Get help for depressive disorder at Alvarado Parkway Institute
At Alvarado Parkway Institute, we understand the challenges involved in finding the right depression treatment. We offer a wide variety of programs to address the needs of many different types of depressive disorders. Whether you’re seeking the safety of a highly structured inpatient program, or prefer the flexibility of outpatient services, we work with each of our patients to develop a unique plan to treat their specific symptoms.
Don’t let depression rob you of another day. Our caring staff members are available to talk 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call us at (619) 667-6125 to learn more about how Alvarado Parkway can help.