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  • Writer's pictureCandice Alston

17 Terms To Help You Better Understand Chronic Depression

Updated: Mar 5

If a doctor asked you to describe your experience with depression throughout your life, what would be your answer?

Chronic Depression: The Emotional Rollercoaster

There was a psychiatrist in the mental health clinic that asked me this exact question. All I could say was “it feels like I'm on a never ending roller coaster of highs and lows.” One minute you're feeling alright and the next your mind has taken a plunge into a dark and hopeless place. It’s often hard to identify what happened and how you got there (No wonder they call depression the “Silent Killer”). You can stay in this place for weeks or months until you're able to claw to the top of the roller coaster again. Sound familiar? Let me know in the comments! Well, it was about a year into treatment when I learned there are terms for these periods of highs and lows.

Here are15 Terms To Help You Better Understand Chronic Depression!

Depression: A serious mental health disorder also known as Major Depressive Disorder or Clinical Depression. This mental health condition significantly impacts a person's thoughts, moods, and behaviors. Depression can greatly decrease your quality of life.

Depressive Episode: A depressive episode is a period of time where a person is actively experiencing symptoms of depression. This period of time can last weeks, months, and in some cases more than a year.

Depression Recovery: Mental health researchers and professionals define recovery as full remission of symptoms lasting at least eight weeks. In other words, you are symptom free for at least eight weeks or more! Depression recovery can be achieved by seeing a therapist, taking medications, and making lifestyle changes.

Depression Remission: A brief period where you experience no symptoms of depression (less than eight weeks). Oh yes, the highs of the emotional rollercoaster! These periods usually consisted of a positive outlook on life, feeling hopeful, organized, and driven. Couldn't tell me I hadn't figured my shit out!

Depression Partial Remission: A period of time where not all symptoms of depression have resolved but the number of symptoms have decreased. It could also be that your symptoms have decreased in severity. The climb!

** It's important to note that remission and partial remission is usually experienced when we begin receiving treatment, begin antidepressants, have a reduction in stress, etc. **

Depression Relapse: You experience relapse when all symptoms of your depression return prior to reaching eight weeks (recovery).

Crisis: A crisis is when someone is in danger of causing harm or death to themselves or someone else. Once someone begins to experience thoughts, discuss, plan, or attempt, these things it's imperative to get help right away. Call or Text 988, Call 911, or go to the nearest emergency room.

Dysthymia: A mild, but long lasting depression. Also known as Persistent Depressive Disorder. This condition can coexist with Major Depressive Disorder.

Antidepressants: A type of prescription medication that is used to treat depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions. These medications are used to manage symptoms and prevent recurring symptoms.

Mood Stabilizers: A type of prescription medication used to treat patients with Bipolar Disorder. The medication can stabilize their manic and depressive moods.

Treatment Plan: A treatment plan is a plan that each of your providers will create that outlines your condition, treatment options, and course of treatment. It's important you are aware and comfortable with the established treatment plan. Be sure to express any concerns with your provider.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): A mental health disorder where you experience persistent feelings of anxiousness and worrying thoughts. People with depression often experience GAD.

Anxiety Attack: Intense feelings of overwhelm and loss of control. An anxiety attack can consist of racing heart, sweating, feeling short of breath, and chest pain.

Panic Attack: Intense and sudden onset of panic, fear, and worry. A panic attack can consist of racing heart, sweating, feeling short of breath, and chest pain.

Psychiatrist: A medical doctor that specializes in mental health disorders. A psychiatrist will examine, diagnose, treat, and prescribe medications for mental health disorders.

Psychologist: A medical professional that specializes in mental health but does not attend medical school. These medical professionals typically receive their doctorate and go through extensive educational programs. These providers will help you work through your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. They will perform assessments, establish treatment goals, and teach healthy techniques and coping skills. Frequently referred to as "therapist."

Therapy (Psychotherapy): Talk therapy is a type of therapy used by mental health providers to treat depression and other mental health conditions. In talk therapy you will address thoughts, emotions, and behaviors impacting your life. Common types of therapy used to treat depression are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Interpersonal Therapy (IPT).

Depression is a complex medical condition that is often difficult to put into words. This is especially true for the person suffering with depression that might be trying to make sense of what they are experiencing. In my own experience, learning there were medical terms that could describe this emotional roller coaster that had been my life for so long was reassuring. It reassured me that I wasn’t just a hot mess or failure, but in fact these highs and lows were part of a serious medical condition. My hope is this blog has spread some important knowledge but more importantly if you ever feel like a hot mess remember you are fighting a serious medical condition. Every day you make it through is another day you tell depression SCREW YOU!

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