Depression is an illness that involves the body, mood and thoughts. Depressive disorders come in different forms such as major depression, dysthymia and bipolar disorder. Within these forms of depression, there are variations in the number of symptoms, their severity and persistence.
A depressive disorder is more than just a passing blue mood. It is not a sign of weakness or something that can be wished away. Someone afflicted with this disorder cannot just “pull themselves together” or “shake it off”. This disorder affects how a person eats and sleeps, how a person feels about themselves and thinks about things.
Major Depression is manifested by a combination of symptoms that interfer with the ability to work, study, sleep, eat, and enjoy activities once pleasurable. Some symptoms include:
- depressed mood
- loss of appetite
- diminished interest in or enjoyment of activities
- psychomotor agitation or retardation
- sleeplessness or hypersomnia
- lack of energy
- poor concentration
- social withdrawal
- suicidal thoughts and/or gestures
- feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, or inappropriate guilt
- low self-esteem
- unresolved grief issues
- mood-related hallucinations or delusions
A disabling episode of depression may occur only once but more commonly occurs several times in a lifetime.
We will talk more about the treatment of depression and the other forms of depression in subsequent posts.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) involves anxious thoughts, intrusive thoughts, unwelcome or persistent images, or a compulsion to engage in certain rituals. The disturbing thoughts or images associated with OCD are called obsessions and the rituals that are performed to try to prevent them are called compulsions. Performing the rituals provides a temporary relief from the anxiety a person with OCD feels. For example, if you are obsessed with germs or dirt, you may have the compulsion to wash your hands over and over again. You may check and re-check things like locking the door, leaving the stove on or counting, always for a certain number of times. Some people have to place things in order and it bothers them if it is out of place.
People in general can relate with checking the stove or the door a few times before leaving the house, but when the activity consumes a lot of time or interferes with daily life, it may be OCD. It afflicts about 4 million adult Americans. It can be seen in children, adolescents and young adults. It affects men and women equally. Symptoms can vary in individuals and they can also ease or worsen over time.
Depression, eating disorders or other anxiety disorders can accompany OCD. It can also cause a person to isolate themselves from others or even create a health concern for those whose become compulsive hoarders.
OCD responds well to treatment with both medication and psychotherapy. We will talk more about symptoms and treatment of OCD in another post.