Carlton Martin, Ph.D.
The Ripple Effect of Depression
What is depression?
Depression is the leading cause of disability in the US among people ages 15-44. More than disability, depression steals a person’s joy. It robs the sufferer of motivation, purpose, and the resources to deal with the day-to-day give and take of work, school, and relationships.
A person with a physical wound can point to a specific area of pain; depression is an emotional wound represented by emotional pain. We know that the brain cannot tell the difference between physical pain and emotional pain, so the hurt is the same to the individual, but they get less support and less care. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5) describes depression as a period of at least two weeks when a person experiences a depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities. Depression may also include a cluster of specific symptoms such as problems with sleep, eating, energy, concentration, or self-worth.
What are the symptoms?
A person is diagnosed with depression if they have any combination of these
symptoms for at least two weeks:
● Persistent sadness, feelings of hopelessness, irritability (especially in young children).
● Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
● Loss of interest in things that once brought pleasure
● Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
● Difficulty sleeping, waking up earlier than usual or oversleeping
● Thoughts of suicide
Who is most susceptible?
Depression can occur at any age, but often begins in adulthood. Our current
understanding of depression now recognizes that it occurs in children and
adolescents as well. Depression in young children and adolescents is often
expressed in actions (what we call appropriately, acting out), irritability,
complaining (whining), etc. (Durand et al., 2017).
Why should I seek help?
Treatment is critical because the consequences of untreated depression can be
devastating to the individual, their family, and the community where they live. Some
consequences of untreated depression are smaller hippocampus (resulting in
memory problems) and smaller brains (resulting in problems with thinking, concentrating, and functioning). Other consequences include loss of productivity/income, and diminished quality of life.
What do I do about it?
Treatment may include medication, psychotherapy, regular exercise, modification of diet, and social support.