Everyone feels down sometimes. It’s normal to be sad when life becomes stressful, or things aren’t going your way. However, when feelings of sadness are persistent, hard to overcome or interfere with your everyday life, it’s important that you see a mental health professional for help. You may be struggling with depression.

What Is Depression?

The word “depression” is used as an umbrella term to describe a set of mental health symptoms that may be indicative of multiple mental health disorders. Some of these conditions include:

  • Major depressive disorder: This is one of the most common mental health disorders in the US, with about five percent of American adults diagnosed. The condition is characterized by depressive symptoms that last two weeks or more, with episodes often returning after a period of remission. If depressive episodes occur frequently or last for extended periods of time, they may be considered chronic. 
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD): This is a condition where depressive symptoms manifest in a particular season or time of year. For most people with SAD, winter is when their symptoms worsen. 
  • Perinatal depression: These conditions involve the development of depressive symptoms as a result of pregnancy-related hormonal changes. When this occurs before the birth, it is called prenatal depression; when it occurs after the birth, it’s known as postpartum depression. These are both common conditions, especially for first-time mothers.

Periods of depression may be caused by stressful life events. For example, the loss of a loved one can often lead to depressive symptoms for a period of time. This is largely normal and often part of a healthy grieving process. There is no timeline for processing grief, loss, and sorrow; however, if you feel as though depressive symptoms linked to a life event are interfering with your daily life or like you’re unable to heal, you may need professional help. 

Signs and Symptoms

So, what exactly are depressive symptoms? They can vary depending on the individual and disorder, but common signs include:

  • Feeling sad, hopeless, and/or empty
  • Feelings of guilt, shame, or worthlessness
  • Fatigue or low-energy
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping excessively
  • Thoughts of suicide or self-harm
  • Feeling disconnected from yourself or loved ones
  • Loss of interest in hobbies
  • Changes in appetite
  • Feeling disconnected from reality and the world around you
  • Lack of motivation

Your diagnosis and subsequent treatment plan will depend on the severity, duration, and frequency of your symptoms. You will be assessed by AACC staff to determine if you meet the criteria for mental health treatment here. 

Challenges and Effects

Living with depressive symptoms can be extremely challenging mentally, emotionally, and socially. People with depression often isolate themselves from friends and family, which can lead to worsening symptoms. This is for several reasons. They may lack the motivation or energy to engage with others. It’s possible they feel ashamed of their mental illness and want to hide it from those they care about. Sometimes, depression can lead to neglect of personal hygiene, which can cause further shame and isolation.

Depression can also interfere with work and school. The low energy and feelings of hopelessness make it difficult to engage effectively with tasks. Sometimes, it’s hard to find the motivation to even get out of bed in the morning. This can lead to problems with attendance and performance and may even cause job loss or disciplinary action.

In the most severe cases, depressive symptoms can lead to destructive behaviors, self-harm, and even suicide. To cope with the emotional turmoil, individuals sometimes turn to substance use, which can cause addiction. This is why depression and substance use disorder (SUD) often occur together. Self-harm and suicide are destructive coping mechanisms used to regain a sense of control or self-punish. If you are experiencing thoughts of self-harm or suicide, know that there is another way to manage your symptoms. Professional help is available at Athens Area Commencement Center, where you can enter a season of healing.

Getting Treatment for Depression

At Athens Area Commencement Center, we believe in using evidence-based approaches to combat mental health disorders, including depression. Our staff of caring mental health professionals are trained in a variety of therapeutic interventions, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). These therapies have been proven effective in managing depression symptoms over decades of clinical use. Through your treatment journey, you’ll learn healthy coping mechanisms, build a strong support system, and address underlying issues that may contribute to your mental illness. When you choose us for your healing journey, you’ll be set up with a personalized care plan that puts your goals and needs first. 

If you’re facing SUD along with depressive symptoms, your unique care plan will be tailored to face these co-occurring issues. Whether you’re in need of detox, a 12-Step program, or in-depth psychotherapy, we can establish a clear continuum of care that will give you the best chance at recovery. 

Education and active participation are cornerstones of our philosophy at AACC. We believe that having a deep understanding of mental health and taking an active role in your healing can be an empowering experience. Depression can often leave you feeling out of control or lost within yourself. We want to help you regain your sense of control in life. Comprehensive education about the underlying causes of mental health issues can help boost self-esteem and break generational cycles of mental illness. 

You don’t need to face your struggle with depression alone. Call Athens Area Commencement Center at (706) 546-7355 to get the help you deserve.