Do I have bipolar depression if my mood fluctuates?
Probably not. Normal mood fluctuations are a common experience for all of us. Bipolar disorder is more extreme ups (manic phases) and downs (depressive phases) that causes significant impairment in daily life. There are milder versions, like Bipolar II that have what are called ‘hypomanic’ phases, where the up/manic phase isn’t as drastic, but it’s still more intense than normal mood shifts. If you aren’t sure, get in touch so we can talk about it.
Does depression cause people to use drugs and alcohol?
The pain that depression causes is a common reason that people self-medicate with drugs and alcohol, but it doesn’t directly ’cause’ the using behaviors. People self-medicate when they feel like they cannot tolerate the pain they are experiencing and are desperate for even a temporary break from it. The trouble is, drugs and alcohol can be addictive, and the effects on the brain frequently make the depression even worse, which causes more cravings for the chemicals. A better approach is counseling, exercise, healthy diet, meditation, and sometimes proper medication that is prescribed by a psychiatrist. These drugs are specifically tailored to help depression without causing it to get worse in between doses.
What causes depression?
The causes of depression are varied. Sometimes there is a genetic link to an imbalance in neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine, other times it can be related to major life events like trauma, grief, injury and major stress. Regardless of the root cause of depression, there is help.
Can depression be cured?
Depression can certainly be managed, but it is not a disease that needs to be ‘cured’ like cancer or an infection. As I mentioned above, exercise, healthy nutrition, hydration, meditation, and medication are all extremely helpful in managing depression. Even massage therapy has been shown to have great benefits for people living with depression. The more you engage in these activities, and the more consistently you do them, the better the results. Very often, medication is not needed to manage depression. Counseling and therapy have been shown to be 2-3 times more effective than medication alone.
How long does depression last?
Depression can be a temporary symptom (i.e. not a diagnosis) of something like grief or stress, or a diagnosable condition like Major Depression or Bipolar Disorder. Diagnosable depression can be episodic (brief episodes of depression) or chronic.