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Depression in Adults – Signs, Symptoms, Management & Prevention

Depression can affect people of all ages. Adults' relationships and professional lives suffer when they suffer from this mental health condition. Depression counseling can help address causes and symptoms.

Depression in Adults

Depression in Adults in Brief

Everyone feels sad at times and suffers from low mood. Depression in adults is different from occasional feelings of sadness. It is one of the most common mental and behavioral health illnesses in adults today. When depressive episodes recur frequently and intensely, this condition can become severe and even lead to suicide. 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), just under 4% of the global population suffers from depression. Among adults over 18, the number rises to 5%. Among elderly adults, the rate of depression is even higher. Before the coronavirus pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that nearly one in five American adults had experienced symptoms of depression within two weeks. The pandemic likely increased those figures. 

Adults who are severely affected by depression struggle with day-to-day activities. Their performance at work suffers, and their family life is also strained. Depression is more than a fleeting feeling of sadness; it is not something adults can “snap out of.” This mental health condition requires professional support, such as counseling. 

If untreated, severe depression can lead to suicidal ideation and even suicide. Suicide remains the fourth leading cause of death among teenagers and young adults up to 29. 

Adult Depression Signs & Symptoms

Understanding the signs and symptoms of depression is the first step towards recognizing whether you, a friend, colleague, or family member, may be at risk. Fleeting feelings of sadness or loss are normal. But when those symptoms occur for the most significant part of the day on most days and when they last for weeks or months, it is time to seek professional help. 

Adult depression can manifest with both physical and emotional signs and symptoms. 

Common emotional symptoms include:

  • Feeling sad, empty, tearful, and hopeless
  • Being tired and without energy
  • Becoming angry and irritated over minor problems
  • Trouble thinking and concentrating
  • Recurring thoughts of death or suicide, potentially leading to suicide attempts

Common physical symptoms include:

  • Sleep problems or sleeping too much
  • Slowed speaking and slowed down body movements
  • Unexplained physical symptoms, often aches and pains
  • Lack of appetite leading to weight loss or increased hunger and strange cravings leading to weight gain

Many adults are suffering from depression experience more than one of these symptoms. They might not always be evident to others as depression often develops slowly and gradually. Over time, it becomes more apparent that someone struggles when they can no longer cope with work or social activities. Others report feeling generally unhappy without being able to say why. 

Causes of Depression in Adults

Medical experts still do not know exactly what causes depression in adults. As with other common mental disorders, such as anxiety in adults, several factors can play a role. 

  • Genetics: Adults are more likely to develop depression if they have a family history of the illness. Researchers have found that adults with blood relatives with depressive disorders, including parents, grandparents, or siblings, may be genetically predisposed to the condition.
  • Brain chemistry: The brain’s “messages” to other organs are carried by neurotransmitters. When those neurotransmitters are not functioning optimally, an adult’s mood may become unstable. Scientists believe that this instability may lead to the development of depression and other mental health disorders. 
  • Biological variations: Medical experts have been able to measure physical changes in the brains of adults suffering from depression. A depressed person’s brain works differently from a healthy individual’s. 
  • Hormones: Hormones are another essential factor in managing and controlling our mood. Biological processes like pregnancy and childbirth lead to dramatic changes in hormone levels. Physical conditions like thyroid problems can also cause hormone imbalances, as can menopause and other requirements. 

Scientists believe that they will eventually be able to pinpoint the exact causes of depression, especially by understanding the significance of biological variations. 

Treatment of Depression in Adults

The treatment of adult depression can vary widely between individuals, depending on the severity of the condition and its underlying causes. However, many medical professionals follow a particular set of steps:

Assessment and diagnosis: To be diagnosed with depression, adults must display lasting symptoms for a minimum of two weeks. In many cases, adults have been suffering depressive symptoms for much longer before they seek help.

Treatment plan: Healthcare professionals will suggest a treatment plan which will correlate to the assessment and diagnosis of the patient. For adults with depression, psychotherapy and medication are among the most common courses of treatment. Depending on the exact condition, clinicians may choose one method over the other or suggest a combination. Depression counseling is one of the most popular and effective forms of psychotherapy. This type of treatment addresses the underlying causes and symptoms of the condition. 

Counseling sessions: Counseling sessions are a form of talk therapy. Throughout the sessions, the counselor and client will analyze the underlying causes of a person’s problems. Then they will aim to resolve those causes and work to develop coping strategies. The goal is to allow the client to return to their everyday life.

Review: Counselors will regularly review their approach to ensure the client receives the best treatment. If necessary, they may suggest a different type of talk therapy, for example. 

Effects of Depression in Adults

It is hard to overstate the dramatic effect severe depression can have on an adult’s life. Depression can destroy careers, families, and other relationships. 

Those suffering from severe forms of this mental illness often struggle to perform well at work. They may find it impossible to leave their house, losing all drive and interest in their professional lives. 

Families are also strongly affected when one adult suffers from this mental health condition. If the affected person is a parent, they may struggle to care for their children or enjoy activities they used to love. 

How does Truecare’s Depression Counseling Help Adults?

TrueCare’s depression counseling offers adults convenient and effective access to professional counseling services across the United States. 

TrueCare has curated a nationwide network of professionally qualified, experienced, and fully certified counselors. Several of those counselors specialize in treating depression in adults. Others combine depression treatment with other mental health conditions, such as anxiety. 

TrueCare’s approach is unique and adaptive, making it easy to find a counselor and a form of counseling to fit different lifestyles. There are two main approaches to counseling: online and in-person counseling services. 

Online telehealth counseling sessions may suit adults who live in remote areas or struggle to travel to their chosen counselor. While online counseling may have been the only choice during the coronavirus pandemic, the flexibility and convenience of this approach mean that it will remain popular. 

In-person counseling is available at a counselor’s office or in-home counseling. In-home counseling may suit those severely affected by the condition and struggle to leave their homes. Adults looking for a neutral setting for their counseling sessions often prefer to visit their counselor’s office. 

Plus, with TrueCare’s adaptive approach, it is easy to combine online and in-person counseling services. Thanks to a vast network of counselors, there are no wait lists, and support is available precisely when needed. 

FAQs on Depression in Adults

How common is depression in adults?

Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions in adults in the United States, second only to anxiety. Even before the coronavirus pandemic, the CDC measured that nearly one in five adults suffers from depressive symptoms in two weeks. 

Who suffers most from this condition?

Women are more likely to suffer from depressive disorders than men. While scientists are still working to identify the exact causes of depression in adults, some evidence points to hormonal changes during pregnancy and childbirth. Women may also be more likely to suffer from depression due to menopause.

How is depression diagnosed?

To be diagnosed with a depressive disorder, adults must suffer related symptoms for at least two weeks. A complete diagnosis needs to be made by a mental health professional.  

 
Which treatments are available?
 

Counseling is a form of talk therapy that is highly effective in treating depression. Counseling addresses the condition’s underlying causes as well as symptoms. Some adults with depression may receive medication as well as counseling. 

How many counseling sessions will adults need?

The number of counseling sessions varies widely between individuals. After diagnosis, counselors create a treatment plan and often indicate the number of sessions necessary. This number will be reviewed regularly and adjusted depending on the client’s condition. 

About TrueCare™

TrueCare™ is a nationwide Health & Wellness platform for families and businesses providing end-to-end solutions for COVID-19 testing, screening, vaccination, home care, and corporate well-being services.
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