People who suffer from depression all report the same feeling of sadness or apathy, but the expression and experience of depressive disorders vary among different groups of people. Men and women, for example, typically report different symptoms than the elderly and children.
There are different possible causes and triggers for depression in different life stages. Understanding how depression affects people of various ages and genders differently can help us be more prepared to identify our own struggles or help a loved one.
What Is A Depressive Disorder?
It's important to clarify that when we refer to depression, we don't just mean feeling sad. Depression refers to a specific condition that must exist for a certain period of time in order to be diagnosed as a disorder.
Major Depressive Disorder, for example, is diagnosed after someone experiences at least two prolonged periods of depressed mood and other symptoms for a period of at least two months.
Dysthymia, on the other hand, is a milder form of MDD. People with dysthymia may not suffer from acute depressive episodes, but they still struggle with enduring low moods, feelings of sadness and hopelessness, low energy and similar depression symptoms.
Depression in Men vs. Women
Studies show that women are more likely than men to suffer from depression. A 2011 study published by the American Psychological Association noted that this is caused by women's tendency to internalize their emotions while men externalize them.
While men are more prone to fits of anger and lashing out, women are more likely to spend prolonged periods thinking about their repressed emotions. Focusing on your sad thoughts and feelings is a process psychologists call "rumination."
Depression in the Elderly
As people age, they begin to lose independence and become more aware of their mortality. The lack of stimulation and day-to-day engagement can cause senior depression. Elderly people with depression typically act withdrawn, feel more tired than usual or have trouble sleeping. They may also struggle with confusion or a have difficulty concentrating. The symptoms of depression in the elderly are sometimes confused with dementia or Alzheimer's.
Depression in Children
Childhood depression is more common that people think. Children who are depressed aren't just "moody." Depressed children are more likely to lash out or be "on edge," according to the Cleveland Clinic. They may throw more temper tantrums than before, exhibit behavioral problems or have trouble eating or sleeping.
Children are also likely to complain about physical illnesses when they're really depressed. Frequent complaints of a headache or stomach ache that don't let up with treatment are a sign of depression.
Understand the Signs, Save a Life
Depression is serious, but it's also treatable. A mental health professional can teach people of all ages how to work through their depression and help them overcome their sadness. It's never too soon or too late to reach out. Don't be afraid to reach out and get help for you or a loved one.
If you suspect that you or a loved one might need help with depression, our team of licensed professionals here at MidValley Healthcare are here to help. We work with clients on an individual basis to achieve a happier, healthier life. Contact us today to make an appointment.