Depression, sometimes referred to as Clinical Depression, is a mood disorder characterized by intense negative emotions and feelings, that negatively impact on people's lives leading to social, educational/vocational, personal and family difficulties.

It is a mental disorder, that is due to a medical condition affecting the way mood is controlled by the brain. It is different than feeling emotional distress or sadness. Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), the most common type of depression, usually begins in the teen years or early adulthood. Individuals with MDD will experience periods of time (lasting months to years) where they experience intense depressive episodes, which are separated by periods where they experience a relatively stable mood.

Sometimes a negative event (such as the loss of a loved one, or severe and prolonged stress) will trigger these episodes but often they will occur spontaneously. MDD is often accompanied by feelings of anxiety and is always accompanied by significant problems with family, friends, work or school that arise because of the effect of MDD on the person. Learn more about depression by watching this video….



More about MDD

This presentation provides a quick overview on MDD, what we know about how it occurs, what treatment options exist and helps to provide some context for depression.

How Do You Know If Someone You Love Has Depression

(Note: this behaviour cannot be due to substance, medicine or another illness (such as cancer, diabetes, etc) and must be different from a persons usual state of mood)

Is the person feeling low or sad most of the time? Has the person lost interest in what they regularly do? Has the amount of what they do decreased? Are they having trouble concentrating?  Do they feel fatigued much of the time?  Are they feeling hopeless or worthless? Do they experience much less enjoyment in life?  Has this behaviour lasted at least two weeks, and been present every day for most of the day?

There are three areas of symptoms that often present in youth experiencing depressive episodes. Here are some things to watch for:

□ Feeling depressed, sad, unhappy or something similar
□ Feeling a loss of pleasure, or a noticeable disinterest in all or almost all activities
□ Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness or excessive and inappropriate guilt

□ Diminished ability to think or concentrate or significant indecisiveness
Suicidal thoughts/plans or preoccupation with death and dying

Body Sensations
□ Excessive fatigue or loss of energy
□ Significant sleep problems (difficulty falling asleep or sleeping excessively)
□ Physical slowness or in some cases excessive restlessness
□ Significant decrease in appetite that may lead to noticeable weight loss

If someone in your life has five of the above symptoms (with at least one of them being a mood symptom) present EVERY DAY for MOST OF THE DAY during the same two week period, then they may be experiencing clinical depression (MDD).

What Can You Do?

You might want to engage in a discussion with the young person in your life, asking them some questions about how they are feeling. These questions might include:
□ I notice you don’t seem to be as excited about soccer anymore. You used to be so excited about it. Have you lost interest/pleasure in it?
□ I’ve been noticing that you aren’t yourself lately, how are you feeling?

Early identification and effective intervention is the key to successfully treating the disorder and preventing future disability. You can aid in helping the young person by arranging a meeting with a qualified health practitioner ensure a professional diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan.

Someone in Your Life is Diagnosed With Depression, Now What?

□ Obtain a second opinion, if you think that is necessary
□ Learn all you can about the disorder and share the information with the young person affected and their family members
□ Get professional help for the young person, and work closely with the doctor or other health professional
□ Try not to take personally any rejection of your efforts. Remember the youth may be dealing with distorted perceptions and thinking - the illness is not the person.
□ Try to help your loved one feel they belong and are cared for, the more withdrawn/hostile/grouchy, they appear, the more love, affection (i.e. a hug) and support they need
□ Reassure your child that with proper treatment, they will be able to have a positive future and  live a healthy and productive life
□ Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Regular physical exercise, normal sleeping and healthy eating can aid in the road to recovery

□ Children with a sibling/or parent with clinical depression have about a 15% chance of developing the disorder themselves
□ Girls who have a mother with major depression have up to a 40% risk for the disorder
□ Depression is the second most common mental disorder in youth people – affecting six percent of youth before the age of 18.

What Treatment Options Exist?

Treatment is used to decrease the length and severity of depressive episodes and prevent other episodes from happening.

□ Psychotherapy (i.e. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). This is talk therapy.
□ Medication: a variety of antidepressant medications can be prescribed

Other activities that may help in decreasing the impact of depression include:
□ Exercise
□ Diet
□ Social Activities
□ Good Sleep & Hygiene
□ Education/Schooling Assistance
□ Eating foods rich in Omega3
□ Getting 800 IUs per day of Vitamin D

Alcohol and drug use can negatively impact your brain chemical systems making depression worse and should be avoided.



Other Types of Mental Disorders That May Commonly Occur Alongside Depression Include:

Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia or Panic Disorder
□ Alcohol and Drug Abuse (Substance Abuse)
□ Eating Disorders

Resources for Teens and Families

Guide to Major Depressive Disorder
Evidence Based Medicine for Patients and Youth
My Brother/Sister has a Mental Illness: A Guide for Young People Ages 11-16
My Brother/Sister has a Mental Illness: A Guide for Young People Ages 17-24

Other Helpful Resources

Facts for Families 
Medication Guide for Treating Depression

BlackDog Institute Depression Resources

Dealing with Depression ToolKit for Teens

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