Fact Checked

Unipolar Depression: What You Need to Know

Unipolar Depression

Story At-A-Glance
  • When most doctors, therapists, and patients refer to depression, they are typically speaking of unipolar depression, in particular.
  • The condition is often categorized with feelings of sadness, anxiety, or depression. These feelings could last for more than 2 weeks.
  • Unipolar depression differs from bipolar depression because bipolar depression is marked by a shifting of moods: one minute you may be happy, the next minute you may be sad.
  • Unipolar depression is a widespread problem. It is predicted that it affects nearly 18 million adults in the United States alone.
  • Unipolar depression can be treated and managed; however, it is currently classified as an incurable mental condition.

An Introduction to Unipolar Depression

Unipolar depression is what most people are talking about when they speak of depression in general. It is also sometimes referred to as a major depression. It is a problem defined by most mental health experts as a feeling of dread or sadness that persists for more than 2 weeks.

The effects of unipolar depression can be devastating. It can cause a person to become less motivated, stop working, stop going to school, stop interacting with loved ones, and stop finding enjoyment in activities they once loved.

Of course, the grimmest outcome for anyone who suffers from unipolar depression is suicide. According to a Mayo Clinic study, approximately 15% of people who are clinically depressed will commit suicide.

An In-Depth Look into Unipolar Depression

It is very important to understand the different manifestations of depression. For instance, bipolar depression is marked by frequent and seemingly erratic changes in mood. On the other hand, unipolar depression is characterized by a constant feeling of sadness or dread.

It’s also important to realize that just because you feel down now and again, you aren’t necessarily suffering from unipolar depression. The fact is that most people feel sad every once in a while. However, if these feelings persist for long periods and start affecting your life negatively (poor work performance, suffering studies, lack of motivation, avoiding friends and loved ones, etc.) then you may be clinically depressed.

Clinical depression needs to be treated by a medical professional. Only a medical professional should be consulted to diagnose clinical depression in the first place. While you shouldn’t take short periods of sadness or moodiness lightly, it’s crucial to understand that clinical depression is something that can’t be shaken off in an hour or a couple of days.

Unipolar depression usually entails constant feelings of sadness that last up to two weeks. There is no manic period in which one’s feelings fluctuate between happy and sad.

What About Major Depression?

Major Depression
You may have heard the terms major depression, major depressive disorder, and clinical depression before. The fact is though, that all of these terms refer to the same type of condition. Major depression is essentially the same thing as unipolar depression.

Major depression is classified with all the same characteristics as unipolar depression, including feelings of sadness and dread that can last for weeks and that cause the sufferer to act differently and in detrimental ways. It’s important to note that there is no major clinical difference between major depression and unipolar depression.

Major depression or unipolar depression can also affect the sleeping patterns of the sufferer. If you or someone you know is having trouble getting to sleep because of anxious thoughts, staying up until the wee hours of the morning, sleeping well into the day, or aren’t getting much sleep at all, it could be a sign of major depression.

What Are the Causes of Unipolar Depression?

Unfortunately, there are many causes of unipolar depression. Many things can trigger a depressive episode and cause it to last for weeks. Sufferers may find these events very traumatic.

Still, there are some common causes of unipolar depression that can be referred to and traced. For instance, there are physical factors. These factors can be determined through assessment.

Additionally, physical causes of unipolar depression can range from genetic predisposition to a sudden or gradual change in hormone production. These physical causes may require laboratory tests to be able to rule out correct diagnosis.

One of the main players in the physical causes of unipolar depression is brain chemistry. Many medical professionals categorize the condition as a malady of brain chemistry.

Furthermore, the logic behind it is that many people who are suffering from unipolar depression also exhibit an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain and the spine. Hormone changes (like those experienced in menopause) have also been known to cause spells of depression.

There are also mental causes of unipolar depression. These can include anything from excess stress from work, childhood trauma, or an exceptionally distressing singular life event.

While the causes of unipolar depression are varied, there are also some common triggers. These can include anything from a death in the family to the loss of a job.

Everyone reacts to mental changes and environmental changes differently. That’s why the causes of unipolar depression can sometimes be difficult to pin down.

What Are the Symptoms of Unipolar Depression?

Symptoms of Unipolar Depression
This is true of the symptoms of unipolar depression. Because people react to mental and environmental changes in a myriad of different ways, there are several symptoms of major depression.

If you suspect that you or a loved one are suffering from depression, keep an eye out for some of the most common symptoms of unipolar depression which include:

  • Uncharacteristic mood changes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lack of motivation
  • Changes in sleeping pattern
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Depressive thoughts
  • Feelings of low self-esteem
  • Trouble focusing or remembering things
  • Lack of enjoyment in activities

The symptoms of unipolar depression can be hard to track. That’s because once again, everyone feels down from time to time. Everyone has trouble sleeping from time to time as well.

You may mistake someone losing weight through diet and exercise as one of the symptoms of unipolar depression. This might be a tricky factor.

If you don’t see a friend or family member for a long time, you may also mistake that for one of the symptoms of unipolar depression. People at times want to keep their lives away from any kind of pressure. But it does not necessarily mean they are already suffering from an emotional imbalance.

The fact is that friends and family cannot diagnose depression. There are ways to reach out and talk about the condition, but ultimately, the symptoms of depression, its diagnosis, and its treatment need to be handled by a medical professional.

How Can Unipolar Depression Be Treated?

The treatment of unipolar depression may vary. It can hinge on prescription medication or psychotherapy or a combination of both. You may opt for more natural methods but in the case of severe conditions, medical management may help immensely.

In the case where a patient may feel that they may harm themselves, treatment of unipolar depression will also include a hospital stay. In the hospital, the patients receive the care and attention they need to curb their symptoms.

treatment of unipolar depression

In the treatment of unipolar depression, it has been noted that Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors[1] (SSRIs) have been effective as medication. Many recent studies determined the effectiveness of these pharmacologic treatments.

Additionally, SSRIs work by keeping serotonin (an important neurotransmitter) available in the brain. This improves communication between the neurons. This communication could promote feelings of ease and happiness. Also, there have been many clinical trials and case studies that point to the effectiveness of SSRIs, which is why they are such a common form of treatment of unipolar depression.

Still, psychotherapy has proven to be an effective treatment of unipolar depression. Psychotherapy involves talking to a certified therapist about your feelings, moods, or anything else.

Also, this treatment of unipolar depression attempts to uncover any underlying mental or emotional issues that may be causing the depressive thoughts in the first place.

There are many sub-categories of psychotherapy and the specific symptoms of unipolar depression and how it is manifesting itself in the patient’s life will determine which type is needed. The first step is determining the severity of symptoms.

Of course in many cases, the successful treatment will involve a combination of medication and psychotherapy. Psychologists and psychiatrists rely on these management strategies.

About Unipolar Depression

The Important Questions About Unipolar Depression

Yes. While there may be different symptoms of unipolar depression, the major depressive disorder usually refers to the same thing as unipolar depression.

That depends on the specific symptoms of unipolar depression in play but in general, the levels of depression include lack of hope, fatigue, trouble sleeping, loss of appetite, trouble remembering things, and suicidal thoughts.

No. Unipolar depression refers to a single, specific type. There are no different types of unipolar depression, just different names that it goes by.

There are various supplements for major depression such as Relaxia, which may help promote a feeling of calm for some people, but these supplements have different effects on different people.

Last Things

The symptoms of unipolar depression should be categorized and taken note of as soon as possible. Depression can spiral out of control very quickly.

Be sure to familiarize yourself with the different causes, symptoms, and treatments of unipolar depression in case you or a loved one needs help.

Moreover, if you suspect that you or a loved one is suffering from major depression, it’s important to try to reach out to them in a loving, yet gentle manner. Talking about the condition is essential. Thoughts of suicide may develop, and it is something nobody wants to happen.

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