Episodic depression is a type of depression that comes and goes. It can be very difficult to deal with, both for the person who is suffering from it and for their loved ones. In this blog post, we will discuss what episodic depression is, its symptoms, and how to best deal with it. If you or someone you know is suffering from episodic depression, please don’t hesitate to seek help. There are many resources available to you!
What Does Episodic Depression Mean?
Episodic depression, also known as recurrent major depression or intermittent explosive disorder, is a type of depressive disorder characterized by episodes of intense and prolonged feelings of sadness and helplessness. These episodes can last for weeks or months at a time and may occur multiple times throughout an individual’s life.
It is often difficult to predict when these episodes will occur and they may happen without any apparent trigger. However, certain factors such as stress or major life changes can increase the likelihood of an episode.
According to studies, this episodic depression can also be linked to a family history of depression or other mental health disorders. It is not an easy disorder to live with, as it can greatly impact daily functioning and overall quality of life. Therefore, if you are experiencing symptoms of episodic depression, it is important to seek help from a mental health professional.
How Does It Look Like?
There are periods of intense depression followed by periods of relative stability. These episodes can last for weeks or even months, and the length and severity can vary from person to person.
For example, one person may experience a mild episode lasting a few weeks while another may have a severe episode lasting several months. During an episode, a person may struggle with low mood, lack of motivation, and difficulty functioning in their daily life.
These periods of stability may be relatively symptom-free or a person may still experience some mild symptoms but can function normally. Some common symptoms may be present during both depressive episodes and periods of stability, such as low self-esteem and guilt.
In addition, a few common symptoms are as follows:
- Sleep disturbances
- Changes in appetite
- Difficulty concentrating
- Thoughts of death or suicide
These are just some common symptoms and it is important to note that everyone’s experience with episodic depression may be different. You should be aware of these symptoms and track any changes in your mood to better identify patterns of depressive episodes.
Can Major Depression Be Episodic?
Someone with major depression can experience periods of remission, or times when their symptoms improve or even disappear altogether. However, it is important to note that these periods of remission do not mean the individual is cured; episodes can come back at any time and often without warning.
Major depression is a chronic illness that requires ongoing treatment, even during periods of remission. It is important to continue therapy and medication regimens as prescribed by a doctor, as this can help prevent future episodes and manage symptoms when they do occur.
This condition can be difficult to navigate, but it is important to remember that you are not alone and there is help available. Reach out to a trusted friend or family member, therapist, or doctor for support and resources. Remember, you deserve to live a happy and fulfilling life, and treatment can help make that possible.
What Triggers Episodic Depression?
There is no one specific trigger for episodic depression, as it can be caused by a combination of certain things. Some of the triggers are:
- Stressful life events: It is common for people to experience depressive episodes following a major life event, such as losing a job or the death of a loved one.
- Genetics: A family history of depression may increase the likelihood of experiencing it oneself.
- Physical health issues: Certain medical conditions and their treatments can lead to symptoms of depression.
- Substance use: Many substances, such as alcohol and certain drugs, can contribute to depressive episodes.
- Hormonal changes: In some people, a hormonal imbalance can lead to depression. This is often seen in women during and after pregnancy, or during menopause.
- Brain chemistry: A chemical imbalance in the brain can also contribute to episodes of depression.
- Rejection: It is not uncommon for people to experience a depressive episode after experiencing rejection or abandonment.
It is important to note that not everyone will have the same triggers for their depression, and it can also vary from episode to episode. More often than not, it is a combination of various factors. Certain risk factors can make a person more prone to experiencing episodic depression, such as being female or having a family history of mental illness.
But you should not blame yourself for your episodic depression. It is not something that you can control or prevent, and seeking help from a mental health professional is the best way to manage it. What you can control is how you cope with and treat your depression. So, do not hesitate to reach out for support.
How Is It Diagnosed?
A diagnosis is typically made based on a combination of self-reported symptoms and a mental health professional’s assessment. It is important to note that episodic depression can co-occur with other mental illnesses, such as bipolar disorder or anxiety disorders.
For example, someone with bipolar disorder may have periods of depression interspersed with periods of mania or elevated mood. In this case, the episodic episodes would be a part of the larger diagnosis and treatment plan for bipolar disorder.
There are proper methods and tools for diagnosing episodic depression and it is important to seek professional help to receive an accurate diagnosis. For example, a mental health professional may use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) criteria for major depressive disorder to make a diagnosis.
Overall, with an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment plan, individuals with episodic depression can lead fulfilling lives. So do not assume or try to self-diagnose, seek out professional help and support.
What Are The Treatment Options?
It is important to seek professional help if you are experiencing episodes of depression. There are different treatment options available, including therapy and medication. Let’s discuss these options in more detail.
It is also known as talk therapy or psychotherapy, which involves meeting with a trained therapist to discuss and work through challenges related to your mental health. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one popular form of therapy that focuses on identifying negative thought patterns and finding ways to reframe them in a more positive light.
There are also other types of therapy that are proven to help with episodic depression, such as:
- Interpersonal Therapy
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy
It is important to find a therapist who you feel comfortable with and can work with effectively. Because therapy can be a long-term commitment, it may take some time to find the right fit.
In addition to therapy, medications can also be an effective form of treatment for episodic depression. However, it is important to work with a medical professional in finding the right medication and dosage for you. A few options might include:
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
- Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
- Tricyclic antidepressants
It is important to remember that medications may not provide immediate relief and can take weeks or even months before fully take effect. It is also important to continue taking the medication even when feeling better, as stopping medication can often lead to a relapse in symptoms.
Join a support group
It is important to have a support system when dealing with episodic depression. Joining a support group, whether online or in-person, can provide you with a safe space to talk about your experiences and receive encouragement from others who may be going through similar challenges.
A group can be a valuable source of information and resources, as well as a way to connect with others who understand what you are going through. It can also help to combat feelings of isolation often associated with episodic depression.
So these are some common treatment options that can help you manage episodic depression. Remember, it is important to seek professional help and create a personalized treatment plan that works for you. Take care of yourself, and don’t be afraid to reach out for support. You are not alone in this journey.
Can You Prevent Episodic Depression?
Many people ask if they can prevent episodic depression from happening. Unfortunately, the answer is not a straightforward one. While there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of experiencing episodes. These include:
Identify your triggers
This is one of the most important steps in managing episodic depression. Knowing what triggers your episodes can help you avoid or prepare for them. For example, if stress at work often leads to episodes, finding ways to manage and reduce stress can help prevent them. In fact, the first step in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for episodic depression is identifying negative patterns and triggers.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle
If you maintain a healthy lifestyle, it can help mitigate the effects of episodic depression. It may also prevent episodes from occurring as often. This includes:
- Getting enough sleep
- Exercising regularly
- Eating a balanced diet
It’s also important to limit or avoid alcohol and drug use as they can worsen symptoms. When you live a healthy lifestyle, you’ll also have more energy and motivation to engage in activities that bring joy and fulfillment.
Develop a support system
Having a strong support system can make all the difference when dealing with episodic depression. This includes family members, close friends, and/or therapy sessions with a mental health professional. It’s important to have a go-to person or group of people who can provide emotional support and help you work through your depressive episodes.
Engage in healthy coping mechanisms
Finding healthy ways to cope with stress and difficult emotions can prevent episodes from occurring. This may include:
- Practicing mindfulness
- Living stress-free life
- Doing deep breathing regularly
- Creating healthy habits
When you have healthy coping mechanisms in place, it can be easier to manage the symptoms of episodic depression and prevent future episodes.
Stay calm and positive
Finally, this can be a difficult thing to do, but the most important step in dealing with episodic depression is staying calm and positive. It may feel impossible at times, but try your best to focus on the good things in your life and surround yourself with supportive friends and family. Seek professional help if necessary, and remember that this episode will pass just like all of the others have before. Keep pushing forward and stay strong.
Additionally, it can be helpful to keep a journal or diary to track your moods and any triggers that may lead to depressive episodes. This can aid in identifying patterns and finding effective coping mechanisms for the future.
Remember, you are not alone in this and there is always hope for a brighter tomorrow. You got this, and don’t give up. Keep fighting until you find your way out of the darkness.
In conclusion, episodic depression can be a challenging and overwhelming experience, but there are steps that can be taken to manage it. Seeking professional help, practicing self-care, and finding support from loved ones can all greatly improve your mental health during episodes. This might be a difficult journey, but remember that you are not alone and there is hope for healing.
Remember, always trust your instincts and do what feels best for you in managing your episodic depression. It may not be easy, but with persistence and support, it is possible to lead a fulfilling life. Stay strong and take care of yourself!
If you are struggling then please contact Therapy Mantra for help. The team of experts here will be more than happy to help you out and get you on the path to a better life. Contact us today to learn more about our services. You can also book an online therapy session or download our free Android or iOS app.