1. What is Depression?
2. Four Major Types of Depression
3. Difference between Grief and Depression
4. Causes of Depression
5. Depression and Work Performance
6. Personality Types Suspectible to Depression
7. The Big Five Personality Traits and Depression
8. Myers-Briggs Personality Types and Depression
9. How to Cope with Depression
Depression is not a single condition. Many factors contribute to depression, which may make it difficult to recognize. Worse, when you think you have depression, you may be using the wrong treatment with little or no results.
We all experience feelings of sadness which can get us down for a day or two. Feeling sad is a normal part of life. Just because you are feeling sad for a couple of days does not mean you are suffering from depression.
A person in depression exhibits long-term physical and mental changes that disrupt their normal, everyday life. It can affect personal relationships and work performance.
The first step in overcoming depression is learning what it is and what it is not.
What is Depression?
Depression (major depressive disorder) is a serious and common medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, think, and act. Fortunately, it is treatable.
Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or withdrawal from the activities you once enjoyed. You may experience physical and emotional problems as well as a decrease in your ability to function at work and at home.
Depression must last at least two weeks and should represent a change in your previous level of functioning.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, symptoms of depression can range from mild to severe and include:
- Feeling sad or having a depressed mood
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
- Changes in appetite — weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- Loss of energy or increased fatigue
- Increase in purposeless physical activity (e.g., inability to sit still, pacing, hand-wringing) or slowed movements or speech (these actions must be severe enough to be observable by others)
- Feeling worthless or guilty
- Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Four Major Types of Depression
The medical world recognizes four major types of depression and several other categories, too. Depression exhibits both mental and physical symptoms.
Major Depressive Disorder – The classic type of depression, major depression is a state in which a dark mood is all-consuming and one loses interest in activities, even ones that are usually pleasant. Depression typically consists of trouble sleeping, changes in appetite or weight, loss of energy, and feeling worthless.
Persistent Depressive Disorder – A type of low mood depression that has lasted for at least two years but may not reach the intensity of major depression. Many people with this type of depression are able to function day to day but feel low or joyless most of the time. This depression may also include appetite changes, sleep disorders, low energy, low self-esteem, or hopelessness.
Bipolar Disorder – Low depressive episodes alternate with high or “manic” episodes. Depressive episodes include low energy, low motivation, and difficulty with daily activities. Mood episodes can last between days and months and may also be associated with suicidal thoughts.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) – This type of depression emerges as days get shorter in the fall and winter. The mood change may result from alterations in the body’s natural daily rhythms, in the eyes’ sensitivity to light, or in how chemical messengers like serotonin and melatonin function.
Although women are at higher risk for general depression, they are also at risk for two different types of depression caused by reproductive hormones—perinatal depression and premenstrual depression (PMDD).
Difference Between Grief and Depression
If you’ve recently had a loss in your life, you should know that grief and depression are different.
Most forms of grief tend to decrease over time. The episodes come in waves, usually triggered by memories of a loved one. You may feel OK one day, but then, overwhelmed by an emotional wave, memories return and your sadness revives.
Grief is characterized by intense sadness, anger, and difficulty accepting the fate of someone loved. Generally, these feelings tend to diminish over time.
Depression is different because it is persistent and prevalent. You may have thoughts of suicide, feelings of worthlessness, hallucinations, and prolonged difficulty participating in daily tasks.
Another major difference between the two is that grief is associated with a specific event or loss of a loved one, while depression doesn’t always indicate a loss. Grief focuses on loss, but depression focuses on the self. And self-esteem is usually not affected in grief, while in depression loathsome feelings toward yourself are usually present.
Causes of Depression
No one knows exactly what causes depression, but it can result from a variety of reasons.Depression can result from a wide spectrum of issues from upbringing to current medication.
The causes that trigger depression range from physical, emotional, and chemical. From adverse childhood events and brain injuries to medical issues and nutritional unbalance. Depression can even result from leading an unfulfilled life.
Before you look at a list of common causes associated with depression, it’s important to remember two factors:
- Not everyone who experiences these factors gets depression.
- Depression is treatable.
Abuse. Experiences of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse in early years can make you more vulnerable to depression later in life. And ongoing abuse as an adult can trigger depression as well.
Age. The elderly are at a higher risk of depression. Contributing factors such as living alone, having a lack of social support, or physical disability can make the depression worse.
Certain medications. Some medications can increase the risk of depression: for example, isotretinoin (used to treat acne), the antiviral drug interferon-alpha, and corticosteroids. And even some anti-depressant drugs, especially in combination with other medications, can prolong or deepen depression.
Conflict. Personal conflicts with family members or friends can trigger depression in someone with a biological vulnerability to depression.
Death or a loss. Although sadness or grief after the death or loss of a loved one is natural, if prolonged it can increase the risk of depression.
Gender. No one knows why, but women are about twice as likely as men to become depressed. The hormonal changes that women go through at different times of their lives may play a role. See the female-specific depressions above in Types of Depression.
Genes. A family history of depression may increase the risk. There is a belief that depression is mediated through a complex gene pool, so there are probably many genes that each exert small effects, rather than one gene that contributes to depression. Like most psychiatric disorders, the genetics of depression are not as straightforward as diseases like Huntington’s chorea or cystic fibrosis.
Major life events. Life changes, even good ones, can lead to depression. Moving, losing a job, divorce, retirement, a new job, and getting married are all examples of events that can lead to depression. Keep in mind that the syndrome of clinical depression is not a “normal” response to stressful life events.
Nutritional imbalance. Your brain is particularly at risk from dietary imbalance. Prolonged poor nutrition can lead to changes that trigger depressive symptoms.
Personal complications. Personal problems like being cast out of a family or social group can contribute to the risk of developing clinical depression. Another example is social isolation due to mental illness.
Serious illness. Depression can result from a major illness or can be triggered by another medical condition.
Substance misuse. A large percentage of people with substance misuse, nearly 30%, also have major or clinical depression. Drugs or alcohol temporarily may make you feel better, but they ultimately will aggravate depression.
As you can see, depression can arise from a wide array of factors and events. That’s why it’s important to recognize the symptoms and get help.
Depression and Work Performance
If depression is left untreated, it can negatively affect your work performance. Presenteeism, or employees at work but not engaged, and absenteeism, employees missing days of work, are common effects of depression at the workplace.
Additionally, depression can adversely affect several areas of employee performance, including focus and decision making, time management, completing physical tasks, social interactions, and communication.
When you are depressed, your work performance suffers. Both you and your co-workers may notice your symptoms.
- Loss of Interest in work or social activities
- Difficulty concentrating or slowed thoughts
- Forgetfulness and trouble remembering
- Trouble making decisions
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- Feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt
- Energy loss or increased fatigue
- Irritability, anger, or tearfulness
- Weight or appetite changes
If you notice symptoms or your co-workers comment on symptoms, take steps to identify depression and begin treatment.
Personality Types Susceptible to Depression
Certain personality types are more susceptible to depression. Their core way of viewing the world and responding to life events and others makes them vulnerable or less able to cope. They are unable to shake off hurts of negative feelings about themselves.
But, as you can see from the causes of depression, depression can affect anyone.
The Big Five Personality Traits and Depression
The Big Five personality traits examine five domains of personality that vary by degree for each individual. They are: Openness to experience , Conscientiousness , Extraversion , Agreeableness and Neuroticism.
Outgoing personalities, like extroverts and those who are open, are less likely to suffer from depression.
In a recent study of students, neuroticism was positively associated with depression, while conscientiousness, extraversion, and agreeableness were negatively associated with depression. And, neuroticism scores were associated with a history of suicidal ideation.
Another study on personality and depression in older adults, confirms an association between personality and late-life depression. Remarkable is the association found between high Openness and earlier age of depression onset.
According to a case study conducted by Larsen and Ketelaar extroverts are more responsive to rewards, which makes them happier overall. Their outgoing personality keeps them in touch with other people and the world around them.
In a study examining levels of treatment for bi-polar patients, elevated levels of neuroticism and lower levels of conscientiousness correlated with depression.
These studies all point to personality combinations where individual vulnerability correlates with various degrees of depression.
Myers-Briggs Personality Types and Depression
The MBTI or Myers- Briggs Type Indicator was developed by Katherine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers. It is based on Carl Jung’s personality typology. Based on Jung’s theory of dichotomous cognitive functions, it suggests that there are two dichotomies within us:
- The “rational” (judging) functions: thinking and feeling
he “irrational” (perceiving) functions: sensation and intuition
Jung believed that for every person, each of the functions is expressed primarily in either an introverted or extraverted form.
Combining the various rational and irrational functions and the introverted or extroverted forms results in 16 personality types.
Personality types with Feeling and Introversion are more prone to depression because of the focus on themselves and sensitivity to others.
Let’s look at examples of how depression affects MBTI types.
In spite of their compassion, INFJs are the most likely to suffer depression than all MBTI types since they are very sensitive to the pain of others as well as their own. They cannot shut themselves off from pain.
INFJs can become depressive if they are powerless to help others, or they feel overwhelmed by the world around them. Additionally, when they feel they aren’t making progress, they likely feel depressed.
They are very conscious of being caring, genuine, complex, nurturing, and gentle. They are very sensitive to the world around them. In addition, they hesitate to share their own sufferings. The compassionate nature of their personalities makes them unable to tolerate criticism or harsh comments, and they have difficulty dealing with conflicting relationships.
Tragedies around the world, especially a lack of humanity, depress them.
In ENFJs, guilt is the most common depressive symptom. Depressive feelings increase when they do not take time to tend to their emotions.
In order to totally ignore their depressive state, the ENFJ will often attempt to work even harder. Consequently, this will lead to a derailment, which may lead the ENFJ to not be able to do their usual work.
They may feel they have disappointed others or, when secluded, feel sad or depressed.
Naturally sensitive, INFPs feel at a deep level. They cannot become detached from the pain around them. The truth is, sometimes INFPs feel depressed because they do not feel understood by the world around them.
The fear of being alone causes them to feel depressive.
Usually free and easy, ENFPs, disconnect from the world when they feel depressed. Feeling defensive, they may lash out at others. It is important for them to acknowledge what is wrong in order to feel better.
Having a lack of purpose may make them feel sad.
Depression, which is irrational, challenges the logical INTJ. They will search for something that will quell the irrational feelings. Even if they try doing things that have helped them feel happy earlier, some of these things are not the most healthy outlets.
They are sad when their work and time are overlooked or unappreciated.
When ENTJs are depressed they feel their skills aren’t utilized and begin to feel useless. They keep their symptoms hidden, so they don’t appear weak or vulnerable to others around them.
ENTJs are most like to feel depressed when they feel as though they do not have control over their life direction.
A depressed INTP may have emotional outbursts. These can feel surprising because they are normally reserved. They may snap at those close to them if they feel pressure.
Their depressive feelings center around feeling life is meaningless.
ENTPs who feel trapped can suffer depression. They need to set motivating goals rather than staying in a monotonous routine.
ENTPs can feel depressed when they fall behind on responsibilities.
Depressed ISTJs seclude themselves from others and dive harder into work. Spending time with their loved ones or those around them seems less rewarding.
They are saddened when there is no structure or function in their lives.
ESTJs like things to go their way. When they don’t they can feel sad or depressed. In order to cope, they may exhibit manic behavior. Then, they end up feeling overwhelmed.
When they do not have success and respect in life, they may feel sad or depressed.
Socially involved ISFJs tend to close off the world around them, including the people, when they are depressed. They lose contact with their normal support system which intensifies their isolation.
ISFJs need to feel needed. Without that feeling, they can feel depressed.
Because ISFPs hold strong values and beliefs, they may experience depression and conflict, if these values are challenged.
Because they tend not to focus on their own emotions often, ISTPs often do not notice that they are depressed for a long time. They can push others away so that they can figure out what really happened.
ESTPs tend to make themselves busy to distract themselves from feelings of depression. They feel at their worst when left alone.
Just as there are many causes that trigger depression, different personality types experience depression in different ways. Whatever your personality type, it’s important to recognize depression and work to overcome its negative effects on your life.
How to Cope With Depression
If you want results you MUST find the true cause(s), so you can begin the right treatment(s).
What to do?
Recognize depressive symptoms and take appropriate steps to isolate how you experience depression. Seek appropriate guidance, and take steps to reach a balanced life.
Most treatment providers mean well, yet they only treat based on their model of the cause and the solution.
If your depression is caused by something other than what your caregiver is treating for, progress might be limited.
At elevanation, we recommend a combination of professional consultations and self-directed action for getting in touch with depression and taking action steps to a happier life.
1. Get a good physical workup from an excellent internist. Tell them what’s going on, and that you want to rule out any physical causes for your symptoms.
2. Do some writing. Write down everything which is bothering you or making you sad. You don’t need a lot of details at this point, just the general areas of concern. You can probably finish this writing in a few sessions of less than 15 minutes.
3. Talk with some professionals. Get some independent feedback from at least 2 experienced professionals.
4. If possible, talk with a trusted friend…. keep it short and simple… and ask them if they have a recommendation for you.
5. Take action. Schedule some sessions with a professional. Make a written action plan together.
6. Track your progress. Make a brief note of your mood and progress each day in a notebook. Name the emotions you feel to isolate your feelings. It doesn’t take long…just 5 minutes… but will help a lot to measure your success.
7. True depression is not something you can snap out of, even if you’re able to function despite your symptoms.
If you do not treat depression, there is an increased risk to your health. Mayo Clinic reports that patients with untreated long-term depression are more likely to experience sleep disruptions, heart disease, weight gain or loss, weakened immune systems, and physical pain.
Depression can result in an unhealthy cycle. Untreated long-term depression affects a person’s ability to care for their health needs. If we do not take care of ourselves, we may become susceptible to other diseases.
Don’t wait until depression is severe to seek assistance if you are aware of the symptoms.
If you think you are depressed and are confused about options and what to do next, Schedule Your FREE Action Call.
Our goal is to help you reach success.