Chronic depression is a potentially serious mental health condition that can range from mild to severe. People living with depression experience a wide variety of symptoms; and oftentimes, symptoms are debilitating and impact a person's normal routine. Everyone deals with depression from time-to-time. However, millions of people live with chronic depression, wherein symptoms persists for several weeks, months or years. But fortunately, help is available, and there are ways to treat depression and balance moods.
Chronic depression involves more than "feeling blue." And contrary to popular belief, people living with chronic depression cannot simply "snap out of it." Chronic depression is a real illness, and people suffering from the condition may experience extreme sadness, feelings of hopelessness, restlessness, crying spells, irritability, and fatigue. Moreover, chronic depression may cause a person to lose interest in sex and other pleasurable activities. In severe cases, thoughts of suicide can occur.
Certain life events increase a person's risk of developing chronic depression. These include having a family history of depression or mental illness. Having an anxiety disorder or dealing with a traumatic/stressful situation can also trigger chronic depression. And oftentimes, depression develops after being diagnosed with an illness or after having a baby.
Several medications are available to treat the symptoms of chronic depression. Based on the type of depression and the severity of the condition, doctors may prescribe anti-anxiety, antidepressant or anti-psychotic medications. Anti-anxiety medications reduce nervousness and anxiety, which may trigger chronic depression; and anti-psychotic medications are prescribed to treat serious cases such as severe bipolar disorder or postpartum psychosis. Antidepressants such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, tricyclic and monoamine oxidase inhibitors relieve depression by stabilizing chemical imbalances in the brain.
Chronic depression generally requires long-term treatment. And while medications are highly effective, some people choose to treat the condition naturally. There are natural ways to ease chronic depression. Stress management techniques (breathing exercises, massages, hobbies) may reduce anxiety and alleviate depression episodes. Additionally, establishing an exercise routine can increase dopamine and serotonin and improve a person's mood and outlook. Positive thinking can also ease chronic depression, and talking with a therapist can help a person pinpoint situations or events that bring on depression.
There is no guaranteed method to prevent chronic depression. However, recognizing warning signs and identifying depression triggers can ward off an episode. Furthermore, limiting or eliminating your consumption of alcohol and caffeine can prevent depression. And maintaining a strong support system (family, friends and support groups) can help you overcome depression and prevent a future relapse.