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Working it out

During a July 28 webinar hosted by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, Zachary Cohen, a clinical psychology researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles, said treatment for depression likely will involve trial and error. This means doing your best to be patient as you and your mental health professional work out the right treatment for you.

“There’s really a wide spectrum of different treatments, all of which work for some people and some of which work better on average than others,” Cohen said. “There are a lot of things we can try.”

Types of depression and risk factors

Someone who experiences repeated depressive episodes over a period of at least two weeks may have a condition known as recurrent depressive disorder, according to the World Health Organization.

Another significant type of depression is bipolar affective disorder. “This type of depression typically consists of both manic and depressive episodes separated by periods of normal mood,” the WHO says. “Manic episodes involve elevated or irritable mood, overactivity, pressure of speech, inflated self-esteem, and a decreased need for sleep.”

Some symptoms of depression, such as insomnia, irritability or agitation, are more commonly linked to anxiety.

“We know there’s some neurological connection,” said Mark Bauer, who is professor emeritus of psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School and an investigator with the Department of Veteran Affairs’ Center for Healthcare Organization and Implementation Research. “We know that some people who get depressed can feel very anxious and agitated, while others feel more sad and turned inward.”

Other types of depression include postpartum depression (after childbirth) and seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD.

According to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, risk factors for depression can include having a family member with a mood disorder or other mental health condition. Specific genetics or brain structures, trauma or stressful life events, and excessive drug or alcohol use are some of the other risk factors.

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