The top 10 signs of severe depression
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Major depressive disorder, the clinical name for depression, is a mental health condition that can range from mild to severe. It is a complex mental health condition and can vary in each individual. 

What is severe depression?

Depression is a common mental health condition with several different types. Major or severe depression is a type of depression that greatly interferes with your daily life due to your depressed mood or loss of interest in things for at least two weeks

Major depressive disorder can affect people of all ages or backgrounds. Women are more likely to be diagnosed with depression than men. Men are less often diagnosed than women, which can happen due to men being less likely to seek help.

Signs of depression can be different in each person. You could be experiencing severe depression if you have been experiencing any of the following signs of major depressive disorder for two weeks or longer:

  • Feelings of overwhelming hopelessness
  • Feelings of overwhelming frustration or irritability
  • Extreme loss of interest or pleasure in favorite activities or hobbies
  • Decreased energy or fatigue or feeling burned out
  • Extra difficulty concentrating, making decisions or remembering things
  • Drastic changes in appetite and having unplanned weight changes
  • Thoughts of death or suicide, or attempting to commit suicide
  • Isolating yourself from friends and family
  • Increased use of drugs and or alcohol
  • An inability to keep up with responsibilities from work or family, or ignoring important tasks

Depression doesn’t affect everyone the same way or with the same signs. Some people experience only a few signs while others can experience a great number of them. 

If you believe you may be experiencing a struggle with depression, this depression quiz may be able to help. It is not a diagnostic tool and should be used as general information about severe depression. For an actual major depressive disorder diagnosis, you will need to see a mental health provider or your primary health care provider. 

How common is severe depression?

Depression is a common mental health issue in the U.S. Over 8% of American adults have experienced at least one severe depressive episode in the past year. Those adults most affected are aged 18 to 25 years old. 

In 2020, over 65% of U.S. adults with severe depression sought treatment. For American preteens and teens in the same year, 17% of adolescents had at least one severe depressive episode.

What are treatments for severe depression?

If you are struggling with major depressive disorder, there is help available to you. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, you should reach out for help immediately. You can call the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988. 

Treatment can vary depending on the signs and symptoms of severe depression that you are experiencing. Treatment options available for severe depression can include:

  • Process-based therapy (PBT) — At Lightfully, we use process-based therapy as our clinical model. PBT is a therapy approach that integrates a variety of evidence-based therapies, like acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), to address the underlying drivers of mental health symptoms like those associated with GAD. Common underlying drivers include emotion dysregulation and avoidance, shame and cognitive fusion, interpersonal disconnection and isolation, and meaningless and stagnation. Your PBT therapist will create a treatment plan unique to your needs that utilizes interventions to which you will respond best and addresses underlying drivers that are keeping you stuck.

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) — CBT is one of the types of psychotherapy treatment that is integrated into PBT. CBT uses multiple techniques, such as relaxation, behavioral activation, journaling and behavioral experiments. Through CBT, you can unlearn negative and anxious ways of thinking and learn healthier thinking patterns and habits.

  • Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) — ACT is another therapy approach integrated into PBT. ACT helps you learn how to stop avoiding your emotions and anxieties. ACT can help you understand the nature of your anxiety, how to be less afraid of your anxiety, and how to make choices best for you despite your anxieties. ACT won’t get rid of your anxiety triggers, but it can help you learn the coping skills you need to live your best life.

  • Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) — DBT is also an approach that is integrated into PBT. It can help you learn how to balance your thoughts about a situation and the actual situation when the two don’t align. It can help you learn to combine acceptance and change.

  • Interpersonal therapy (IP) — Interpersonal therapy is another therapy included as part of PBT. In IP, your therapist can help you learn how to change the way relationships or social interactions can have an effect on your mental health, including your depression.

  • Medication — The makeup of your brain may be contributing to your depression, and you may require medication in your treatment. It is important to discuss the risks, benefits and possible side effects of any medication with your provider. You should also take all medications as prescribed and not stop your medication abruptly without first consulting your provider. Antidepressants may take up to four to six weeks to begin taking effect. It may take some trial and error to find the correct medication and dose to best help you.

It is incredibly brave to admit you can’t fight your depression alone. Depression can make you feel helpless, worthless, hopeless and exhausted. Without seeking treatment, you can continue to feel like this indefinitely. There is nothing wrong with you, and your feelings are valid. Yet seeking help can help you feel better and can improve your quality of life.

Lightfully wants to help you find the joy in life again

Our Lightfully mission is to compassionately help people and help change their lives. We strive to provide our clients with premier care. We offer a variety of services to meet the needs of our clients. Our therapists have extensive training and education in research-backed therapy approaches to assist you in your severe depression treatment. 

Lightfully Behavioral Health is here to help you work through your struggles with severe depression and achieve your best life. Our licensed clinical therapists see more than a severe depression diagnosis; they see the whole complex human that you are. Your emotions and feelings are valid and part of your human experience. We want to help you find the joy in life again and help you break free from major depressive disorder. 

Change is possible. When you’re ready to take the first step, reach out to our Admissions Concierge Team. We’ll take the next steps together, toward the fullest, brightest version of you.

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