Content reviewed by Nicholas G. Glines, Executive Director at New Hope Ranch

Data from the CDC’s 2019 National Health Interview Survey shows that nearly five percent of adults aged 18 and over experienced regular feelings of depression in their daily lives. As depression affects thousands of people daily, it is important to understand the condition and how it affects a given individual. Although mental health problems tend to affect every person differently, it is crucial to understand the general symptoms and effects of mental health conditions, such as depression, to have better empathy and understand what some people are going through.

Suppose you are a person that experiences depression or has been diagnosed with it. In that case, it can be challenging to explain your symptoms and condition to someone who has not experienced mental health problems. In this case, it is critical to rely on education and personal experience to help someone better understand what you are experiencing.

The Foundation of Depression

Depression is a severe but common mood disorder that affects how an individual thinks, feels and behaves. It can range in severity, but when left untreated, it often becomes debilitating.

How Depression Affects Different Age Groups

One way you can help someone better understand how depression affects an individual is by recognizing how depression affects different age groups. For example:

  • For children: depression may surface as anxiety, crankiness or delinquency
  • For older children and teens: depression may surface as restlessness, low self-esteem, attention disorders, substance use and excessive sleepiness
  • For younger adults: depression may surface as irritability, weight gain, pessimism about the future and other disorders, including anxiety-related conditions and substance use disorders
  • For middle-aged and older adults: depression may surface as depressive episodes, decreased libido, gastrointestinal symptoms, lack of emotions and other medical conditions

Types of Depression

There are several different types of depression worth recognizing. Each type of depression can produce unique symptoms and effects. However, every kind of depression generally involves persistent symptoms that last at least two weeks. When explaining depression to someone who doesn’t understand it themselves, you can refer to this list to explain the different types of depression that exist.

  • Persistent depressive disorder: This includes a depressed mood that lasts at least two years. Symptoms may fluctuate in intensity and surface in episodes, and symptoms must be present for at least two years.
  • Postpartum depression: This depression occurs during pregnancy or after giving birth. It typically involves symptoms of extreme sadness, anxiety and exhaustion that make it difficult for new mothers to complete daily activities and care for themselves or their newborns.
  • Psychotic depression: This type involves symptoms of psychosis, such as delusions or hallucinations. Psychotic symptoms typically lead to worsening delusions of guilt, poverty or illness.
  • Seasonal affective disorder: This form is a depressed mood that surfaces during the winter months as a result of experiencing less natural sunlight. Winter seasonal depression may involve symptoms of weight gain, increased sleep and social withdrawal.
  • Bipolar disorder: Although bipolar disorder is a mood disorder different from depression, this condition involves episodes of extremely low mood that fit into the category of depression. Bipolar disorder also involves extremely high moods referred to as “mania.”

Signs and Symptoms

Another way you can explain depression to someone who has never experienced it is by bringing attention to different symptoms you may be experiencing. Some common symptoms experienced by those with depression may include:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness or anxiety
  • Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness or pessimism
  • Irritability
  • Chronic fatigue or decreased energy
  • Feeling restless
  • Difficulty focusing, remembering and making decisions
  • Appetite and weight changes
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Chronic physical pain without a clear cause

Depression and Substance Use

Depression is known to co-occur with substance use disorder, including addiction. The symptoms of depression can cause individuals to self-medicate with alcohol and other drugs to treat their symptoms. In the long term, however, substance use only intensifies feelings of loneliness and sadness.

To treat co-occurring conditions, an individual must receive treatment from a facility specializing in treating multiple conditions simultaneously. Effective treatment will help a person secure lifelong abstinence by establishing healthier coping mechanisms and navigating painful life experiences from one’s past. One must recognize the underlying causes that led them to use substances in the first place before true healing can begin.

If you have not experienced depression, recognize that individuals who struggle with the condition face an uphill battle daily. Your friend or family member struggling may withdraw from activities, refuse help and experience interpersonal conflict. However, with constant social support and encouragement, they can one day discover the motivation to seek help and treatment.

New Hope Ranch is a men’s-only addiction treatment facility offering specialized programs for individuals with co-occurring conditions. Depression is prevalent alongside substance use. Our treatment program will help you experience healing from your depressive symptoms while working to achieve long-term abstinence from alcohol and other drugs. To learn more about our treatment programs and other resources, call us today at (737) 600-8565.