According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), about 16 million adults in the United States suffer from depression. Although depression can affect anyone at any age, it is most common in women and adults between 21 and 40. However, it is also quite common in those adults over 45, and some call it middle age depression or midlife crisis.
Are you over 40 and feeling sad and hopeless? If it has been going on for over two weeks and is affecting your day to day life, you should talk to a professional. Getting the right therapist is the most effective way to treat depression, and it is highly treatable. Depression responds well to various types of treatments and medication such as antidepressants. However, depression in middle age does not always mean depression. For women over 40, it can be signs of hormonal changes from menopause. Others say it may be caused by early onset dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. No matter what the cause, the depression can be treated if you seek help from a professional.
How to Know If It is Depression
There are many symptoms of depression, but the most important thing to note is that it is not just feeling sad. In fact, you may not even feel sad but have other symptoms that are common with depression such as:
- Feeling empty or lost
- Changes in sleep (sleeping more or less than usual)
- Feelings of anxiety and irritation for no obvious reason
- Difficulty making decisions
- Having trouble concentrating
- Memory loss
- Lethargy, weakness, or tiredness
- Loss of appetite or eating more than usual
- Weight gain or loss
- Loss of interest in daily activities
- Thoughts of suicide
Different Kinds of Depression
There are different types of depression which tend to have similar symptoms but different lengths of time that they occur.
- Clinical depression is characterized by feelings of sadness or any of the above symptoms for longer than two weeks.
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a condition just like clinical depression, but it only affects you during the winter months and is thought to be caused by a lack of sunshine.
- Perinatal (postpartum) depression is a severe case of depression that affects women after childbirth and is thought to be caused by hormonal changes.
- The persistent depressive disorder is the same as clinical depression but lasts for more than two years.
- Bipolar depression is similar to depression but also has periods of mania, which manifests as hyperactivity, extreme excitability, not sleeping for long periods of time, and dangerous or risky behavior.
What Are the Causes?
Although experts are still not 100% certain of the causes of all forms of depression, some agree that it may be a chemical imbalance in the brain, genetic disorder, hormone imbalance, or side effect of some medications. Also, some people are more susceptible such as:
- Those who have family members with mental disorders
- People between 21 and 45
- Those with alcoholism or drug addiction
- Individuals who were abused, neglected, or impoverished
- Pregnant women
What You Can Do
Regardless of the cause, there is a treatment plan that can help. In the meantime, you can try these solutions:
- Eating healthy
- Get some sun
- Yoga or meditation
- Talk to someone
- Join a support group
- Listen to music
However, if you or someone you love has persistent depression that is interfering with everyday life, you should seek help right away. There are more ways than ever to get treatment, and you can even do therapy online without leaving your home.