Why You Can’t “Snap Out” of Depression

Approximately 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the winter months, this mood disorder can become even more challenging, thanks to shorter days and cold, dreary weather. This type of depression, called seasonal affective disorder (SAD), is severe and doesn’t end when the suns come out and the flowers begin to bloom. 

In today’s blog post, let’s explore the symptoms and causes of depression and gain a better understanding of why you can’t simply “snap out” of it. 

Depression is a mood disorder that causes consistent feelings of sadness and general loss of interest. It’s also known as major depressive disorder or clinical depression. It seeps into every area of your life, impacting how you feel, think, and behave. Given its pervasive effect, it often leads to a number of problems, both emotional and physical. 

Most individuals experience multiple episodes of depression. During these periods of time, their symptoms occur nearly every day for most of the day. Common symptoms include:

  • Feelings of hopelessness, emptiness, and/or sadness
  • Irritability or frustration over small inconveniences
  • Anxiety or restlessness
  • Feelings of worthlessness or self-blame, often paired with fixating on past failures
  • Angry outbursts
  • Loss of interest in normal activities, like hobbies or sports
  • Trouble sleeping, including insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Lack of energy
  • Unexplained physical concerns, like headaches or back pain
  • Changes in your eating habits, including reduced appetite and weight loss or increased appetite and weight gain
  • Trouble concentrating and making decisions
  • Slowed thinking, speaking, or movements
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
  • Suicide attempts

Symptoms of depression are usually severe enough to cause problems with day-to-day activities, including work, school, relationships, and social activities. For instance, individuals may have trouble doing basic daily tasks, like getting out of bed or preparing a meal. Many individuals may recognize feelings of unhappiness and misery but not understand why they feel this way.

The exact causes of depression are unknown.

However, we know a variety of factors are involved, including:

Genetics

This mood disorder is more common in individuals with relatives who also suffer from depression. Researchers are trying to identify the specific genes linked to depression.

Brain chemistry

Neurotransmitters are naturally occurring brain chemicals that likely play a role in depression. Research suggests that their impact on mood stability specifically may significantly contribute to the diagnosis and treatment of this condition.

Additionally, people with depression appear to have physical changes to their brains. As we understand these differences more, we will better understand the causes.

Hormones

Shifting hormones — for instance, during pregnancy or the postpartum period — may also cause or trigger depression. Other conditions, such as thyroid problems and menopause, also impact your hormones and be a factor in depression.

In addition to these likely causes, there are risk factors that increase your chances of developing depression, including but not limited to:

  • Personality traits, like low self-esteem or a pessimistic attitude 
  • Traumatic past
  • History of other mental health conditions, like an eating disorder or anxiety disorder
  • Abuse of alcohol or recreational drugs
  • Serious or chronic illness, including cancer, stroke, or heart disease

Depression usually requires long-term treatment. 

If you’re worried that you or a loved one is struggling with depression, visit your primary care physician or a mental health professional as soon as possible. If it helps, ask a trusted friend to attend your appointment with you. With medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of both, you can get better.

If you think you may hurt yourself or attempt suicide, call 911 immediately. You can also text 988 to reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, available 24 hours a day and seven days a week.

Contact Dr. Asha Tota-Maharaj, MD at Platinum Primary Care with all your healthcare needs. Come visit us at 2071 Dundee Drive in Winter Park.