At some point in their lives, everyone will experience sadness or feel depressed. These emotions are normal reactions to a loss or other life obstacles. However, when feelings of severe sadness (feeling helpless, hopeless, and worthless) continue for weeks to months and hinders you from properly living your life, it could be a sign that it’s more than just sadness. You could have clinical depression, a treatable neurochemical condition. Depression, also known as major depressive disorder, is a common but potentially serious condition that can negatively impact how you feel, think, and behave.
In this article you’ll find information about depression—common causes, symptoms, and ways to address it. You’ll also find a brief depression test that you can take to assess whether you may be experiencing mild, moderate, or severe symptoms of depression. Keep in mind this is not a replacement for medical diagnosis but more of a useful guide. You may also use this depression test periodically to determine whether your condition is improving based on your chosen interventions.
You’ll also learn about how depression may be the result of a temporary brain state, in part caused by long-term hyperarousal of the sympathetic nervous system. If you’ve been feeling “tired and wired,” This could be a sign that your brain is effectively tired, and may need to replenish its natural feel good hormones.
This is why re-origin has assembled a team of clinical psychologists and neuroscientists to create the best brain retraining program that can help people normalize their function, return to a state of calm, and allow their brain to naturally begin producing its feel good neurotransmitters again. Try our free demo today.
How do I know if I have depression?
All of us will occasionally feel hopeless, sad, or depressed at times. These are normal and natural responses to challenging events and circumstances. But when these emotions persist long beyond the stressful events, evolve into overwhelming weights, or begin causing physical symptoms, they can hinder you from living a normal, active, joyful life.
If you’re feeling this way, it may be an indication that it’s time to seek help.
If you suspect you may be suffering from depression, the first place to go is your regular doctor. There they can properly assess you for clinical depression and begin to develop a plan to help manage symptoms. If left untreated, clinical depression may worsen and last for months, if not years.
Recognizing symptoms of depression is vital in order to begin managing symptoms and feeling like yourself again. Some common symptoms of depression include:
- Brain fog such as trouble concentrating, recalling details, and making decisions
- Fatigue or little energy
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and helplessness
- Finding little interest in things that previously were enjoyable
- Insomnia (trouble falling asleep or staying asleep)
- Sleeping too much
- Overeating or poor appetite
- Loss of interest in once pleasurable activities
- Appetite increase or decrease
- Headaches, body aches, or cramps
- Digestive issues
- Persistent sad, empty, or anxious feelings
- Suicidal thoughts or actions
An important note to understand is that feeling sad doesn’t instantly point to clinical depression. Clinical depression is a condition that compromises not only a person’s mood but sleep patterns, energy level, appetite, ability to concentrate, and overall motivation.
Health risk related to depression?
The discomfort and anxiety-inducing symptoms of depression can negatively impact a person’s mental well-being. Considerable chronic illnesses have also been connected to elevated rates of depression, including:
- chronic pain
- heart disease
- thyroid disease
- multiple sclerosis
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Huntington’s disease
Depression can also negatively impact your physical as well as emotional well-being. For instance, depression has been shown to increase the chance of developing numerous other conditions through extended periods of increased levels of stress hormones such as adrenaline or cortisol. Increased stress hormones can impact your immune system, making you susceptible to infection. The symptoms of clinical depression can also cause extensive emotional damage, which can increase the risk of substance use disorder. Here are some conditions that are commonly associated with depression:
- Major depressive disorder (clinical depression)
- Persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia)
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
- Anxiety disorders (e.g., generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder)
- Substance abuse or dependence
- Chronic pain or illness
- Sleep disorders (e.g., insomnia)
- Eating disorders (e.g., anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa)
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Personality disorders (e.g., borderline personality disorder)
- History of trauma or abuse
- Family history of depression or mental illness
- Dependence on certain medications
- Chronic stress
- Isolation or lack of social support
It’s important to note that depression can have various causes and can often be a complex interplay of biological, psychological, and environmental factors. This list is not exhaustive, and it’s always best to consult with a healthcare professional for a comprehensive evaluation and diagnosis.
There are many treatment options when trying to overcome depression and its symptoms. The common treatment method is through medications prescribed by your doctors, such as SSRIs, antidepressants, anxiolytic, and antipsychotic medications. The medical field also implements methods to normalize abnormal brain functioning and chemical levels, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and psychotherapy. The most common interventions and recommendations include:
- Psychiatry or psychology with a qualified mental health provider
- Seeking support from family members or a loved one or joining a support group
- Apps are becoming increasingly common because of their widespread accessibility
- Medication prescribed by a medical practitioner
- Meditation and other mind-body therapies
- Neuroplasticity or brain retraining
Neuroplasticity or “brain retraining” exercises for depression
From a neurobiological viewpoint, depression is the incarnation of a fatigued, overworked brain, specifically an overloaded limbic system. Maladaptive neural pathways can keep you locked in a chronic loop of depression and hopelessness.
With the neuroplasticity program at re-origin, you can learn specific neurocognitive exercises, so you can systematically work to create new, healthy neural pathways and get back to a place of balance where normal thought processes, feelings, and reactions can resume. re-origin’s approach does not chase or mask symptoms but rather works to rewire the part of the brain that is causing the dysfunction (the limbic system), resulting in long-lasting recovery.