Depression Disability: Depression Facts, Symptoms & Help

Depression is a condition in which the patient feels discouraged, sad, hopeless, unmotivated, or might have a disinterested attitude towards life in general. These feelings might last for a short period of time, and may present as a case of “the blues. However, the duration of such feelings last for more than two weeks, along with their interference in daily activities such as taking care of family, spending time with friends, or going to work or school, it’s more likely to be a case of major depressive episode, which in fact, is a treatable illness.

Depression is a very serious disorder and can affect anyone of any age at any time. It is a very common mental disorder and affects more than a 100 million people across the world.

Types of Depression

There are three main types of depressive disorders—major depression, persistent depressive disorder, and bipolar disorder

Major depression

It involves symptoms for a two-week period. Usually, such an episode is causes disability and will interfere with the patient’s normal ability to work, study, eat, and sleep. Major depressive episodes might occur once or twice in a lifetime. The usual causes involve the death of a loved one, a relationship breakup, a medical illness, or other serious life event.

Persistent depressive disorder

This form of depression usually continues for at least two years. However, it is less severe than major depression, yet, it involves the same symptoms as major depression. The symptoms involve low energy, poor appetite or overeating, and insomnia or oversleeping.

Bipolar disorder

It was once called manic-depression. It is characterized by a patterned mood cycle, which shifts from severe high moods (mania) or mild highs (hypomania) to severe low mood (depression).

When in the manic phase, the patient might experience abnormal or excessive elation, irritability, decreased sleep hours, feeling of grandiose notions, talkative nature, racing thoughts, increased libido, energetic zeal with poor judgment, and inappropriate social behavior.

However, in the depressive phase, the patient experiences the same symptoms of the patient of major depression. It must also be kept in mind that, the mood swings from manic to depressive are often gradual, although occasionally they can occur abruptly.

Depressive Symptoms

Often it is hard to tell if someone is depressed because you might not be able to tell immediately. They might come across as being completely fine and they themselves might not realise something is wrong. If you or someone you know answers yes to the majority of these symptoms, it is likely to be a case of depression.

According to the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the main symptoms and signs of depression are the following:

  • persistently sad nature, anxious behavior, or “empty” mood
  • The patient is usually pessimist and gets feelings of hopelessness
  • feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
  • The patient loses interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed. This further adds to the disability.
  • He has decreased energy and is always fatigued and “slowed down”
  • The patient faces difficulty in concentrating, remembering things and making important decisions
  • Sleep abnormalities are common in such patients, which include insomnia, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping.
  • Eating patterns are usually disturbed. Decreased appetite followed by weight loss or overeating and weight gain are common in depressed patients.
  • Depression makes a person to have thoughts of death or suicide; suicide attempts
  • He/ she faces constant restlessness and irritability
  • Also, common are the persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain

Risk Factors Of Depression

  • Personal or family history of depression: In such cases, depression is a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors.
  • Recent life events such as death of a beloved person or family person, postpartum depression, post abortive depression, divorce or breakup may also contribute to depression.
  • Major life changes, trauma, or stress of work.
  • Certain physical illnesses and medication: Depression is also accompanied by illnesses such as diabetes, cancer, sexually transmitted infections, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, and other chronically progressive debilitating neurodegenerative disorders. The manifestations of these conditions are often worse when depression is already present. Sometimes, drug therapy taken for these physical illnesses may also cause certain side effects that contribute to depression.

Depression As A Disability

According to the World Health Organization, “Depression is among the leading causes of disability worldwide.” This is definitely true but does depression itself qualify as a disability? Due to it being a mental illness as opposed to most other physical disabilities, many people do not understand why depression should qualify as a disability. But the fact is depression can be debilitating and can affect a person’s life and change it drastically. As a result, a person might need certain benefits to help them get through this difficult time. So yes, depression is a disability.

You are allowed to make a social security claim for depression. If your depression is found to be disabling, you are eligible for support from the government. To support your claim, you must provide medical records, letters from counselors and any other proof you can gather from mental health clinics, psychologists, psychiatrists and any other professionals you have been seeing for your depressive disorder. In addition, to confirm your claim for disability the Social Security Administration might also require to complete a Mental Status Examination.

Once you satisfy the criteria and upon strict evaluation of your depression disability, you will be granted disability benefits for your depressive disorder.

Depression Help

Unfortunately almost a quarter of the people who suffer from depression either don’t want to or don’t even know how to seek help. Depression is definitely possible to cure and can be treated well with medication and therapy. Always remember, depression, even the most severe cases, can be treated. Counseling is also very helpful for an individual suffering from depression. Support from family members and friends is also very helpful for depression.

Depression as a disability suffers a certain stigma because many people do not take it seriously. However, depression is a very serious and real illness and if you are having trouble dealing with it, you should speak to a qualified professional who can help you during this tough time.

Medications: Antidepressants are drugs that are used to treat the depression. Antidepressants usually take 2 to 4 weeks time to work. It is noted that, the symptoms such as sleep disturbances, appetite, and concentration problems improve before the actual mood lifts are observed, so it is very crucial to give the drug a chance before reaching a conclusion about its effectiveness. It must also be kept in mind, that upon the initiation of antidepressants, never stop taking them without the help of a doctor.

Psychotherapies: It is a talk therapy. It includes cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy (IPT), and problem-solving therapy through an ‘one-to-one’ physician -patient counselling session.

Electroconvulsive therapy. This Brain stimulation therapy is used in cases where medications do not reduce the symptoms of depression. It is also an option to explore when rapid response is necessary and medications cannot be used safely. The therapy comprises of a series of sessions, typically three times a week, for two to four weeks. Electroconvulsive therapy is not painful, and the patient cannot feel the electrical impulses.


Depression – World Health Organization

Depression and your claim – Disability Expert

Depression – National Institute of Mental Health


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