The 5 stages of depression and the first warning signs

A large number of people are diagnosed with major depression each year. It is a disorder which hinders and even invalidates the normal functioning of the subject due to the strong discomfort it produces, being one of the most common mental disorders and known to both psychology professionals and the population in general.

This problem appears in different ways and due to different causes, but in general it is possible to observe a process with different phases. This is why in this article we will talk about the stages of depression.

    Major depression

    Major depression is one of the major mood disorders and one of the two most common mental disorders, the former being contested with anxiety disorders.

    Suffer from this problem it involves feeling a wide variety of possible symptoms among which at least a sad and depressed mood and / or anhedonia or an absence of pleasure in the face of previously pleasant activities must appear. Other typical symptoms are problems sleeping or eating, as well as seeking isolation.

    Depressed people tend to take a passive attitude in life, feeling helpless and hopeless. They lose motivation and the desire to act, and over time end up avoiding activities that were previously enjoyable because they already see them as meaningful.

    This also happens a deterioration in the ability to concentrate, pay attention and remember. In some cases, aggression and impulsiveness also appear, being an irritable state more common than sadness in cases of childhood depression.

    People with a depressive disorder exhibit a series of cognitive biases that make them grasp reality in a distorted way, which leads them to maintain automatic negative thoughts about themselves, their future and the world in which they organize themselves. . They also often attribute errors to internal, stable and global factors, which facilitates distorted depressive thinking.

    the causes

    this disorder it has many possible origins, May be due to biological factors (as in endogenous depression) or to external factors.

    The most common is that in all cases there is an event or situation that triggers the appearance of feeling helpless and hopeless. It could be a traumatic event, the accumulation of small stressful events, or the existence of insufficient reinforcement.

    Stages or phases of depressive disorder

    Although depression can have several types of course and the specific symptoms can vary from person to person, it is considered that those who suffer from it it goes through a series of phases until it is fully developed. They are as follows:

    1. Trigger successes

    While there are vulnerability factors such as genetic inheritance or susceptibility to harm that are important in triggering depressive disorder, they usually go hand in hand with experiencing a negative event, which will end to trigger the first ones. problems.

    The triggering event causes them to begin to be born in the subject feelings of vulnerability and sadness, And even helplessness and despair if the aversive situation lasts over time.

    If these sensations are maintained without the subject being or creating the capacity to overcome them, depression may set in.

    2. Determination of cognitive distortions

    The trigger event causes the person to activate a series of cognitive patterns, that is, the way in which their ideas and beliefs about the world and about themselves are linked.

    This, in turn, changes the interpretation of what is happening to him, generating cognitive distortions that make him see the world as something hostile and to himself as something helpless, incompetent and helpless. desperate. This is the stage of depression in which many beliefs on which life itself is based begin to change.

    3. Onset of symptoms

    From distorted information processing, the person begins to show typical symptoms, With a low level of positive affection and a strong negative affection, some of them being sad mood and reduced ability to feel pleasure, mental and physical slowing down and seeking isolation.

    4. Vital inhibition

    The appearance of apathy, anhedonia and bullying (respectively lack of energy and motivation, pleasure and desire or will to act) typical of depressive disorders causes depression in the individual. end up straying from activities you once enjoyed, Such as hobbies and other passions, isolating and / or actively diminishing their productivity, efficiency and engagement.

    5. Appearance of depression maintenance problems

    The set of symptoms of a depressed person usually causes over time new events or aspects to appear that they may worsen or keep the symptoms in mind.

    For example, if at first the depressed person tends to arouse the sympathies of his immediate environment, over time the situation of the affected person and sometimes his desire for solitude ends up being aversive, producing a distance from the individual in his environment . This induces the perception of a lack of support, which accentuates the existing problem and the feeling of vulnerability, helplessness and hopelessness.

    So what? possible treatments

    These stages or phases of depression usually occur frequently in almost all cases. Thereafter, the individual can resort to psychological and / or pharmacological therapy in order to solve your problem.

    Depending on the response to treatment, it will be possible to enter a phase of partial or total remission of symptoms and even achieve complete recovery.

    However, it is worth noting that we sometimes encounter recurrent progressively depressions, in which several depressive episodes occur over time with seasons with partial or total remissions. In such cases in addition to the previous stages, we can also speak of relapseThis should also be taken into account.

      Bibliographical references:

      • American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Fifth edition. DSM-V. Masson, Barcelona.
      • Belloch, A .; Sandín and Ramos (2008). Manual of psychopathology. Madrid. McGraw-Hill (vol. 1 and 2). Revised edition.
      • Sants, JL; Garcia, LI; Calderon, MA; Sanz, LJ; of rivers, P .; Left, S .; Román, P .; Hernangómez, L .; Navas, E .; Lladre, A and Álvarez-Cienfuegos, L. (2012). Clinical Psychology. CEDE PIR preparation manual, 02. CEDE. Madrid.

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