Is Depression a Disease? What's the Proper Term for It? | cannabisMD

Is Depression a Disease? What’s the Proper Term for It?

The Proper Term for Depression. Is Depression a Disease?

Depression is a real problem, and you knowing it matters. Depression is a real disease which can affect those people you care about; the condition can affect someone you know, and they could be from your own family, relatives, close friends, colleagues, or even acquaintances. It can come at any age, although it usually starts during our teenage years and around our 20s to 30s.

You can consider a particular condition as a disease when it affects a standard function and structure of yourself, causing you to have direct physical injury characterized by specific signs and symptoms. Depression can also change the daily lives of its sufferers, and at its worst, it can lead to suicidal tendencies and deaths, which is far alarming than just a physical injury. Hence, it is treatable like any other diseases; you can use medications, psychotherapies, and family support.

The Signs to Be Aware of to Know You Have Depression

You can be sad if you feel like it. The feeling of sadness maybe due to the sense of being alone, the weather may seem to be sympathizing, the food you eat looks fitting for the mood you currently have, and maybe, just because the feeling strikes you and so you indulge it. But what about if it becomes more than that? Sadness becomes your hobby and a new companion in life. You isolate yourself and turn to the voices you wanted to hear, visions you wanted to see, and truths you only wanted to believe. You become so used to being sad that it became your nature. And before you know it, it’s become worst and turn into another condition, like depression.

Generally, the feeling of extreme sadness, anxiety, and negativity are what defines depression. The symptoms of depression aside from physical pains and sleeping disorders include:

  • Purposeful sadness, anxiousness, guilt, hopelessness, helplessness, worthlessness, and “emptiness” feeling
  • Weariness, fatigued, tired, and being slowed down
  • Difficulty in making decisions, remembering and concentrating
  • Weight changes (include appetite)
  • Disinterest in hobbies and other activities
  • Irritability and restlessness
  • Thoughts of ending his/her own life and having suicide attempts

Many people can experience all of these symptoms, but others only suffer few of them. The effects vary from an individual to another. How long the period of depression will last depend on the level of the illness and the capability of the individual to recover.

Diving Deeper into the Causes of Depression

For you to understand those people who suffer from depression, you have to have an awareness of what causes this condition in the first place. Studies showed that there are some factors which can play a crucial role in having depression. This list includes;

  • Genetics
  • Brain chemistry and biology
  • Social factors like being bullied
  • Life-changing and traumatic events such as the loss of a loved one, early childhood experiences, sudden unemployment, a complicated relationship (familial or romantic)
  • High stress situations

Research showed that a higher level of anxiety in childhood could become a higher risk factor of having depression in adulthood. The condition can also exist through the influence of other medical conditions like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and Parkinson’s disease. Patients with these medical conditions are vulnerable to the effects can be worse. Also, there could be side effects that can affect depression because the medications are taken to treat these illnesses.

The “When” and “How” in the Types of Depression

There are different types of depression. Although their symptoms seem to be the same, it’s what causes them such as circumstance and specific occurrence that varies.

Mild Depression is the type of depression you have if there’s only less and limited effect of the signs and symptoms affecting your daily life. There will be a point where you’ll find it difficult to focus and enjoy the activities you usually do, but the feeling will eventually pass.

Major Depression symptoms become severe and affects the daily routines in life such as work, school, sleep, and enjoyments. It can occur once in everybody’s lifetime but typically recur in most cases.

Persistent Depressive Disorder symptoms are similar to those of major depression and can last for at least two years. There are periods in where the signs become less severe within its duration.

Other forms of depression occur under different circumstances which include:

Postpartum Depression affects those at a rate of 10-15% who give birth to babies. It is more than the “baby blues” caused by hormonal and physical changes, and their new responsibilities taking care of a newborn baby.

Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD is a type of depression associated with the weather conditions when the less natural sunlight is the concern. It happens mostly during the winter season and typically lifts off in spring and summer.

Psychotic Depression is a severe depression infused with psychosis. Characterized by having delusions (a break with reality; false truths), and hallucinations (hearing and seeing things which are not there).

Bipolar Disorder is a slightly different condition but also involved strong emotions. People who are bipolar experience extremely low moods (like depression), but also experience extreme high spirits (mania). A less severe high mood is called hypomania.

The Things the Experts Say About Depression

Major depressive disorder, generally known as depression, pertains to a mental condition in where it affects your daily living, the things you usually enjoy, and the way you communicate with other people. Characterized by an intense feeling of anxiousness and sadness, depression can become worse if not addressed.

Anhedonia is not another term for depression but only one of its symptoms. It refers to the lack of pleasure on the activities and enjoyable experiences that the individual enjoyed and do before. Many arguments surfaced about depression. And the word “depression” seems to be not as powerful anymore as it was in earlier studies because the essence and the true meaning of it become overused and inappropriate.

According to Dr. Michael Hurd, the concept of the word “depression” began as a term used to delegate some clinical syndrome or condition. Supposedly, its purpose is to describe the unusual, abnormal, and the not-to-be-expected. But what happened is that it become so overused that even the simplest of emotion, claimed to be under depression. The sole feeling of sadness, disappointment, grief, irritability, and even other mental health conditions become linked to depression, resulting in the word growing meaningless.

Dr. Hurd suggested that the alternative to letting all of this confusion go is to use the exact words to make the condition clear, like saying the disappointed, devastated, sad, anxious and such when you feel them and not to use the word “depressed” all the time to justify and give name to what you feel. By using and sensationalizing the word “depression” to describe how you feel showed that you are intellectually lazy and psychologically unimaginative.

Meanwhile, Dr. Barry Duncan, the author of What’s Right With You: Debunking Dysfunction and Changing Your Life claimed that depression could become your life-transformation vehicle. The idea argued that conditions like depression could also provide possibilities for ourselves to live our lives differently and to aid us in reaching new conclusions. The experience is painful, but it can bring your attention to the truth that you are not happy with certain aspects of your life. It’s like a self-reflection phase. It can become an opportunity for incredible change.

A known historian of psychiatry, Edward Shorter referred to the condition that we call depression as “nerves” and “melancholia.” The mental condition pertains to nervous exhaustion (nerves), or neurasthenia (early 1940s term), and a group of symptoms such as pathological fatigue, mild anxiety, mild depression, insomnia, disordered bowels, chronic pain, and irrational, obsessive thinking as “melancholia.” This may not be something that everyone agrees with, but it’s interesting to look at the full range of opinions on the matter.

In the end, you can see that depression is a disease with specific signs and symptoms. However, arguments will surface because many people claim it as not an illness but a choice. Like a phase in where an individual chose to be out of his or her ordinary self for a specified period; wallowing in his or her own intense emotions. Others also said that you should not encourage depression to become a disease because people will end up dependant on medications and potentially abuse them, leading to more problems.

Regardless of viewpoint, depression is a serious issue. It’s worth seeking counselling and getting help with its management. Don’t be put off if the first counsellor or psychologist doesn’t work for you, there are so many different ways for psychologists to practice, it can take a couple of tries to find one that works for you.

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