Depression is characterized by a persistent feeling of hopelessness, worthlessness, helplessness, emptiness, restlessness, irritability, guilt, sadness, etc. It also inflicts anxiety, loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed, decrease in energy, difficulty in focusing on tasks or making decisions, sleep problems, etc.
It may be accompanied by changes related to appetite and weight, headaches and cramps, suicidal tendencies, etc. Major depression (major depressive disorder or clinical depression) is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States. In 2016, it affected an estimated 16.2 million adults aged 18 and above in the U.S. in the past year, which is roughly 6.7 percent of the total population.
Recovering from depression isn’t the same as healing from a physical injury. If one’s arm is broken, then the treating doctor would be able to estimate the number of weeks it might take to heal completely and become functional again. However, the recovery from depression isn’t time bound. Besides, each patient undergoes a different process of recovery altogether. While some recover in a few weeks or months, others may take long. Despite being a subjective process, there are some stages that many people might be able to relate to during their recovery process.
Understanding the common stages of depression
It is essential to keep a tab on the key stages of depression to ensure early treatment and recovery. Some of the stages discussed below will assist people in understanding the trajectory of depression.
- Diagnosis: Depression may remain undiagnosed for a long time, as few people are aware of the symptoms. Moreover, they tend to brush symptoms aside by assuming them to be a passing phase from which they will soon recover. However, these symptoms can be incapacitating and traumatic to not only the affected person, but to his or her family and friends as well. Reaching out to a doctor and receiving a diagnosis are a major step toward getting support for treatment and recovery.
- Treatment: Recovering from an episode of depression is not restricted to clinical treatment alone. Moreover, there is no straightforward and fixed form of treatment for depression. Though clinical treatments generally aim to reduce and manage the impact of the symptoms effectively, they must be supplemented with awareness about the early warning signs, avoiding triggers and developing a healthier lifestyle. It can be helpful to integrate people with major depression in the community by extending services, such as accommodation, rehabilitation programs, work or education, etc.
- Early recovery challenges: After the ongoing treatment has begun to take effect and one starts feeling much in control, he or she may become complacent and start feeling overconfident on being able to handle any situation. As a result, he or she may start ignoring the regular recovery activities, such as having a nutritious diet, maintaining a healthy sleep schedule, exercising, etc. This stage may present the risk of relapse. One may soon find himself or herself sliding back to the old patterns. Therefore, it is important to reassess one’s recovery program at this juncture.
- Risk of relapse: One must learn how to recognize the warning signs of a relapse. As soon as the treatment starts showing results, people tend ignore recovery activities due to complacency and overconfidence. Additionally, overwhelming feelings of hopelessness, pessimism, easily getting angered or annoyed, stress, skipping recovery activities, putting oneself in risky situations, losing interest in activities involving family and friends are the other signs.
- Advanced recovery: The complete recovery from depression means that a person should be able to attain a satisfying, fulfilling life. This requires a lifelong commitment to changing one’s lifestyle by establishing healthy relationships, eating nutritious diet, getting adequate rest and exercising and working on resolving personal problems. Once a person establishes a healthy lifestyle, he or she must adhere to it daily.
Recovery is all about continuity
Due to increased stigma attached to mental disorders, many people hesitate from sharing their fears and tribulations with others. However, reaching out for support should not be seen as a sign of weakness, but rather as tremendous courage. Since healing from depression requires immense strength and perseverance, one should stay firm on his or her goals. At the end, coming out of this debilitating illness is an laudable achievement.
If you or your loved one is suffering from depression or any other mental health disorder, contact the Depression Treatment Helpline to get information about the various rehab centers for depression in the U.S. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-619-7729 or chat online with our representatives to know about one of the best depression help centers.