Why do I have crippling depression?

In this blog we will try to answer the question “Why do I have crippling depression?”

Why do I have crippling depression?

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Let us discuss some of the possible reasons that could explain why you have crippling or debilitating depression:

Family history of MDD

According to the DSM 5, People whose immediate family has also been affected by the disorder has a higher risk- two to 4 percent higher risk to develop the disorder with heritability approvimatedly 40% higher and relative risks higher for early onset. 

This risk refers to the risk caused by hereditary links or genetic predisposition to depression that can make one more susceptible to developing depression in their lifetime. 

If your family member has depression, that does not mean that you are bound to develop the condition however, it does make you more susceptible to develop depression as a result of a trigger such as life stress, traumatic events etc that could lead to a depressive disorder. 

High levels of stress

Depression has many possible causes. One of them being chronic stressful life situations  that can increase the risk of developing depression.

Stress is a normal psychological and physical reaction to situations in your life. It is neither a bad thing or a good thing. However what is dangerous is continuous or chronic stress in your life that you are unable to handle. 

Depression can be caused when you are unable to cope with the stress in your life because stress has a variety of mental and behavioural symptoms. These symptoms include: insomnia,  trouble sleeping, excessive sleep, and changes in appetite and eating habits. 

Being in a state of continuous stress with these symptoms can lead to deteriorating health, continued low moods, decrease in productivity which can impact your occupational life and also cause strain in your relationships. 

These negative impacts can lead to feelings of hopelessness, dread, doom, and also feelings of worthlessness and the sense that one is a failure in their ability to cope with life all of which can be internalised, leading to developing depression and anxiety. 

Chemical and hormonal changes

Another reason why you are experiencing crippling depression could be because of hormonal or chemical changes in your body such as in the case of Postpartum depression. 

Postpartum depression known as Postnatal depression in various parts of the world is a type of mood disorder that involves a depressive episode that affects women after childbirth, usually around 4 to 6 weeks after delivery.

Hormones levels of oestrogen and progesterone are higher than usual during pregnancy and within hours of giving birth, hormone levels experience a sharp drop back to their previous state. This could be a leading cause of depression when it is combined with the stress of being a new parent.

However, unlike baby blues that are normal and usually fade in a few weeks, postnatal depression can last weeks, months, and can seriously affect the health and well-being of the mother and the child, as well as impact the family relationships. 

Illnesses

Researchers estimate that depression is one of the most common complications of chronic illness and that one-third of individuals with a serious medical condition have symptoms of depression.

It is speculated that this is because of the challenge of adjusting to the illness as well as the toll treatment can have on the individual. 

Chronic illnesses can become a limiting factor in an individual life and cost the person’s 

mobility (ability to move) and independence, change the way they live, see themselves and also impact their relationships. 

This can cause a lot of stress and emotional distress caused by a sense of despair or sadness. When there is a lack of support when someone with this chronic illnesses is faced with stress and hopelessness, it can lead to deeper experiences of depression. 

Unresolved Trauma

Unresolved trauma, be it experienced first hand or being a witness to it can cause individual to develop depression as well. 

Traumatic life events tend to impact an individual negatively and cause anxiety as a result of a sudden change in world view or the fear and anxiety that they faced during the traumatic event. 

Trauma survivors can become so scary that they develop a generalised anxiety or panic disorder which can limit their lives, cause a sense of hopelessness and despair due to the dysfunction it causes in one’s life and relationships thus leading to depression. 

Life circumstances

Life circumstances such as death of a loved one, or after a separation or divorce is challenging irrespective of who has left and who has been left behind. 

It is a major life event that can cause mental anguish and lead to what is known as “adjustment disorder or situational depression”- referring to depression that arises after a change in life circumstances such as a loss of a relationship or loss of a person.

The depression that occurs after separation, loss, and divorce is what is known as adjustment disorder or situational depression and it is different from clinical depression. 

While clinical depression occurs due to neurological and biological factors, adjustment disorder or situational depression occur due to changes in circumstances that are traumatic for the individual. 

During this time, a person might experience depression that manifest in the form of:

  • ignoring responsibilities
  • avoiding family and friends
  • performing poorly at work due to a lack of focus
  • Fighting and anger 
  • Substance use.

Rumination

Another reason why one might be depressed could be because of the negative rumination.The practice of thinking deeply does not have any cause and effect relationship to depression. 

However, if you indulge in deep thinking without mindful awareness and intent and your process of thought turns more into overthinking and rumination, there is a likelihood that your thoughts might negatively impact your mood and cause the onset of depression.

When we ruminate on certain thoughts it can lead to more extreme negative thinking. Thoughts that are pessimistic and catastrophic then impact mood and behaviour. These thoughts are often a result of our beliefs and are regarded as cognitive distortions by Cognitive theorist Arron Beck. 

When people tend to spend time overthinking every scenario in their lives based on these cognitive distortions, it can become a problem. Rumination, when it affects everyday life, can lead to mental health disorders such as depression.

For example, if your thoughts are impacting your sleep, your ability to socialise with others, or keeping you from eating well- it can lead to debilitating effects on your mental well-being.

Isolation

If we consider the relationship between solitude and depression, there is no direct relationship. It is not necessarily the case that solitude causes depression. 

Instead, when we consider what could increase risk of depression is the misconceptions about self worth that is driven by one’s perception of their state of loneliness. 

There have been a number of studies that have shown that loneliness and isolation does impact an individual’s mental health. 

Loneliness in solitude is one of the reasons why people who isolate themselves experience low moods and this desire for social connection is what causes much mental and emotional distress. 

Loneliness while also wanting social connection tends to be caused by involuntary separation, rejection, or abandonment by other people. For example, social isolation due to the pandemic, loss of a parent or a recent break up that you did not want etc. 

What to do if you have crippling depression?

Depression is a serious mental health condition where a person who is affected by it experiences persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness. 

According to the DSM-5 the prevalence of MDD for a period of 12 months in the United States is 7% of the population where the age group of 18-29 year olds have a higher prevalence of depression. 

Crippling clinical depression can make it very difficult for the individual to carry out their day to day tasks, maintain their relationships, and manage their occupational responsibilities. 

Here are some of the things that you can do if you have been struggling with crippling depression

Reach out for help

If you find yourself struggling with depression and loneliness, we urge you to seek support from a professional immediately. 

Here are a few resources form the NHS that you can make use of if you are suicidal, depressed, or engageing in self harm. 

  • Call 116 123 to talk to Samaritans, or email: [email protected] for a reply within 24 hours
  • Text “SHOUT” to 85258 to contact the Shout Crisis Text Line, or text “YM” if you’re under 19
  • If you’re under 19, you can also call 0800 1111 to talk to Childline. The number will not appear on your phone bill.
  • Self Injury Support webchat (for women and girls) is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 7pm to 9.30pm
  • CALM webchat (for men) is open from 5pm to midnight every day

You can also reach out to your local medical service providers or a mental health service provider. 

If you are hesitant about reaching out for help, speak to a trusted friend or adult about what you are going through.

Do not hesitate to make use of resources provided to seek out professional support.

Seek out  professional help

Depression is not just low moods, it won’t simply “go away”. There needs to be an active effort to work through your condition as well as pharmacological support that you might need in the case there are neurological causes to your condition. 

Talking to a therapist and engaging with them to understand what is happening to you does not mean that you have failed in life. It simply means that you need help like everyone else and that does not make you any less of a person. 

Your therapist will help you understand what is happening to you, might prescribe you medication if needed, and can help you tap into your own strengths that can help you adapt to challenges, changes, and overcome them.

Understanding your condition, diagnosis and Engaging with a therapist, being diligent with your medication, and making the changes you need to make to get better will help you during this difficult time. 

Conclusion

In this blog we explore some of the possible reasons why one develops crippling depression as well as what one can do to help themselves if they have depression. 

References

Holland.K. What You Need to Know If Your Depression Feels Debilitating. Healthline. Retrieved on 30th March 2022. https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/crippling-depression#causes

Raypole.C. Loneliness and Depression: What’s the Connection? Healthline. Retrieved on 28th March 2022. https://www.healthline.com/health/loneliness-and-depression

 Pietrangelo.A. Everything You Need to Know About Postpartum Depression.Healthline.  December 6, 2016. Retrieved on 30th March 2022. 

https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/postpartum-depression#treatment

Can chronic stress cause depression? Mayo Clinic. Retrieved on 30th March 2022. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/expert-answers/stress/faq-20058233

How Trauma Can Lead to Depression. EverydayHealth. Retrieved on 30th March 2022. https://www.everydayhealth.com/depression/how-trauma-leads-to-depression.aspx

Chronic Illness and Depression. Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved on 30th March 2022. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/9288-chronic-illness-and-depression

Family History and Depression: What’s the Link? Premier health. Retrieved on 30th March 2022. https://www.premierhealth.com/your-health/articles/women-wisdom-wellness-/family-history-and-depression-what-s-the-link-

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