Introduction to depression

Different types of depressive disorders

There are many types of depression. While all are marked by intense low moods, there are important differences.

Major depressive disorder is also known as major depression and is treated at JPO psychologist’s psychotherapy clinic in Melbourne. Low mood and loss interest in activities once thought to be pleasurable are the most common symptoms. These symptoms may be mild, moderate, or severe and can interfere with your daily life as well as relationships. Low mood can last for up to 2 weeks and be felt on almost all days. There are sub-types for major depression:

Melancholic depression is a severe form if depression that can include both emotional and physical symptoms.

Psychotic depression can include hallucinations, such as hearing or seeing people or other things that aren’t there; delusions false beliefs that other people don’t share or agree with; or paranoia feeling suspicious of others or that everyone is against them.

Bipolar disorder can be described as extreme mood swings that disrupt everyday life. Manic episodes can manifest as agitation, high levels of energy and speech activity, and reduced sleep need.

Depressive episodes can have symptoms similar to major depression. Bipolar disorder sufferers can experience psychosis, paranoia, and hallucinations.

Cyclothymic disorder can sometimes be described as milder bipolar disorder also treatable via a psychotherapist. For at least two years, the person may experience mood swings. Hypomania is a mild-to moderate level of manic symptoms. They might also experience brief periods of even moods with less than two months between. They are less likely to experience severe symptoms and last for a shorter time than major depression or bipolar disorder.

Dysthymic disorders are similar to major depression, but have fewer severe symptoms and last at least two years.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) This is a disorder that affects moods (either depression, mania), and has a seasonal pattern. The winter months are when depression symptoms usually appear and then fade in the spring. This type of depression can be difficult to diagnose. SAD is believed to be caused by changes in light exposure in winter. It is more common in countries with shorter days and longer periods of darkness such as the Northern Hemisphere. SAD is extremely rare in Australia.

Perinatal and Postnatal Depression can occur during pregnancy and after birth and should been looked at by a skilled Melbourne psychotherapist practitioner. It affects approximately 1 in 5 Australian women. It can be caused by the demands and changes in hormones as well as the challenges of parenthood. Men can be affected by changes in routines or roles. Although tiredness and irritability are normal during pregnancy, and after birth, it is important to discuss perinatal depression with your GP if your partner experiences low mood for longer than two weeks.

There are many ways to treat depression. The sooner you seek help, the better. Talk to your doctor about the best treatment for you. You won’t regret that.

Causes and diagnosis of depression

What could be the causes of depression?

Everyone with depression is unique, and each person has their own set of circumstances. A combination of many factors can contribute to depression. Although you may not be able to pinpoint the root cause of depression, knowing the context can help you better manage it.

External factors

Depression is often linked to life events like long-term unemployment, being in an abusive relationship or lonely, or living in constant stress. If you’re already vulnerable to depression, recent life events like losing your job, being sick, or having someone die can all trigger depression. Many Australians have been negatively affected by events like the COVID-19 Pandemic, natural disasters like the Bushfires. These events can often lead to depression and anxiety.

Factors internal

Depression can be triggered by personal factors like family history, personality, drug and alcohol abuse, and even your family background. A family history of depression may increase your risk. Not everyone who has a sibling or parent with depression will experience it. Depression can also be caused by personality traits like perfectionionism, low selfesteem, and a tendency toward worry. However, this link is not necessarily direct.

Depression can also be caused by drug and alcohol abuse. People with depression can reduce their alcohol intake. You can contact the National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline at 1800 250 015.

Complex chemical changes can occur in the body, especially in the brain, in people with depression. Your brain’s ability to regulate your moods can be affected by medical conditions. These chemical aspects are a key component of many medications used to treat severe depression. They have also been proven to be extremely effective in managing severe depression.

How can depression be diagnosed?

Talking to a healthcare professional is important if you have concerns about your own mental health or that of someone you care about. A mental assessment typically involves a discussion, answering a questionnaire and a physical exam. This will allow your doctor to distinguish between mental and physical problems.

Your doctor will ask you questions about your thoughts and feelings. He or she may also check for depression symptoms, including energy, appetite, mood, and if you feel hopeless, restless, or sad. Your doctor may be able to help you if there is a history of depression in your family. Your answers will allow your GP to determine if a specialist, such as a psychologist, counselor or psychiatrist may be of assistance.