Tom Hanks—the actor who portrayed Forrest Gump in the beloved movie of the same name—has said he had one conversation about making a sequel to the film, a conversation that lasted about 40 minutes. Meanwhile, our series on the “flavors” of depression that uses the film’s central metaphor as a jumping off point has made it all the way to a third entry. (Don’t worry. We don’t expect there to be as many sequels as Hanks’ Toy Story series has.)
In previous entries in this series, we have taken a look at a total of six kinds of depression—and we have three more to consider here. The reason this is important is because people tend to use the word “depression” rather haphazardly—often as a synonym for “sad.”
But it is essential to remember that sadness is an emotion while depression is a mental health disorder that has, as we have been detailing in this series of blogs, at least nine different types. Unlike sadness, which comes and goes and is part of most everyone’s experience, each type of depression is a disorder that should be treated with medication, therapy, or (ideally) both.
Seventh Flavor: Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
For those who experience periods, premenstrual dysphoric disorder can arise at the start of their cycle. Symptoms often include rapid mood swings, irritability, and/or anxiety; a sense of being overwhelmed and/or difficult maintaining concentration; and changes in appetite and/or sleep routines as well as feelings of fatigue.
Antidepressant medication can be an effective way to address premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Oral contraceptives can also provide relief from the symptoms of the disorder. Premenstrual dysphoric disorder can be addressed with antidepressant medication. Oral contraceptives can also help treat this kind of depression.
Eighth Flavor: Psychotic Depression
This flavor of depression arguably has the most alarming name of all. The word “psychotic” has extremely negative connotations in popular culture, and so it might seem like it would be a good idea to call this kind of depression something (almost anything) else so that anyone diagnosed with the disorder does not think they have arrived in a horror movie—as the villain.
On the other hand, “psychotic” has a specific medical meaning, and the symptoms related to psychotic depression are serious indeed. They include delusions (clinging to false beliefs even in the face of evidence to the contrary), hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t really there), and paranoia (having a strong but unfounded sense that danger is all around).
Given that these sorts of symptoms can lead to an individual becoming a danger to themselves and others, perhaps the intense name of the disorder is appropriate. In any event, a person struggling from psychotic depression needs to be treated immediately. Use of a combination of antidepressants and antipsychotic medications is an accepted approach to treatment. In some cases, electroconvulsive therapy can also help by using electrical pulses to stimulate activity in specific areas of the brain.
Flavor Nine: Situational Depression
In the strictest sense, this ninth “flavor” is not an actual psychiatric diagnosis. Instead, it is a term for the set of symptoms someone might experience after a challenging time in their life. Any number of situations—divorce, job loss, problems at school or work, chronic illness, the death of a loved one, and more—can lead to feelings of persistent sadness. It is that persistence of feeling that is at the heart of the issue when it comes to your mental well-being.
Generally speaking, psychotherapy (also known as talk therapy) is the best approach to dealing with situational depression. Your therapist can help you develop strategies for dealing with your feelings in healthy ways as you work toward a return to normalcy.
If You Are Struggling with Depression, We Can Help You Move Forward
Forrest Gump’s mom is most famous for her thoughts about life and chocolate. But she had other important nuggets of wisdom to share. Forrest tells us, “My mama always said you’ve got to put the past behind you before you can move on.”
That advice can be applied to your mental health. If any of the many kinds of depression is currently a part of your life (and perhaps has been for a long time), we can help you chart a new course. At Johnstown Heights Behavioral Health in Colorado, we offer personalized treatment for a whole range of mental health disorders. You can count on our evidence-based approach, which we deliver with a combination of expertise, experience, and empathy.