Mental health has now become the talk of the town. Initially, no one would step forward even to talk about it forget about accepting it. Yes, it was the stigma that has always been attached when it comes to mental health disorders. I’m here to talk about depression what are its symptoms, its undermine causes, types of it and how to treat one.
What Is Depression?
Let’s get the idea first ‘Depression’ the word is now rather used more commonly than ever before because how else do we explain to others what we are going through? Right, so now coming to medical terms Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious mental illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. It is characterized by a persistently depressed mood or loss of interest in activities, causing significant impairment in daily life. Depression symptoms are rather easy to observe if you are close enough to the person who is dealing with it.
Now a few statistics according to WHO around 4.5 % of the population in India is suffering from depression. 706 suicides happen in a day in accordance with the 2011 WHO report. Depression symptoms can strike at any time of the life. Women are more likely to experience it than men. So what do we know about it? Is it the same as being sad? Ah, no it is different, in common words it lasts for a longer duration usually for weeks or months. Suicidal thoughts, feeling of worthlessness comes along with the disorder.
Different Forms of Depression
Let’s come to the types of it. I will stick to a little of clinical terms/jargons in the next paragraphs but you will understand it.
Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)
The first is Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) it involves low mood/ interest and pleasure in usual activities. It has different severities ranging from mild, moderate and severe.
Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dysthymic disorder)
The second one is Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dysthymic disorder); a type that’s lasts for 2 years or longer. Persistent feeling down for more than 2 years along with other symptoms.
The third is Bipolar disorder also commonly called as ‘manic phase’ that has periods ranging from high energy mode to low depressive moods. The person experiences themselves at the top of the world when they are the manic stage but will even refuse to get out of the room when depressive symptoms crawl in.
The fourth one is Psychotic Depression where a person experiences major symptoms along with psychotic symptoms. It involves hallucinations and delusions.
Seasonal Affective Disorder( SAD)
Fifth is Seasonal Affective Disorder( SAD) when a particular season i.e winter affects your mood, sleeping patterns, weight gain and comes along with depression symptoms, then you might be affected by it. It is believed to be triggered by a disturbance in the normal circadian rhythm of the body.
Atypical Depression is one where it is not like the typical presentation of a disorder.
The seventh type is Postpartum Depression; it comes after giving birth to a child. It can occur from weeks to months after that.
Lastly, Situational Depression is triggered by life-changing events such as job loss, the death of a loved one. It is more common than the major depression.
And now we come to the depression symptoms.
- People experience differences in mood, sleep, weight, cognitive and behavior patterns. The mood varies from low/depressed to high in energy. The activities that earlier used to give pleasure has now become a burden. Mood swings for no sudden reason and distance from everyone around them.
- Sleep pattern is either categorized as hypersomnia (excessive sleep) or insomnia (no sleep).
- People feel restless even when they have overslept.
- Weight is also one of the most common changes that are seen in a person. It is either excessive eating or loss of appetite. This usually leads to eating disorders like anorexia nervosa, bulimia or binge eating which is again very harmful.
- Cognitive: lack of concentration is very common, the daily activities that require five minutes of the time takes more than an hour or a day to complete.
- Thoughts about suicide vary from person to person, some may not have it in the beginning but later on, they might think of doing it.
- People show different behavior patterns like isolating oneself from others, crying for no apparent reason, getting angry at small things around them. Ideas of hopelessness or nothing good can happen to them cover their minds.
- Anxiety for places or people can occur sometimes. The depression symptoms should be checked on as early as possible.
Causes of Depression
A lot of factors contribute to depression.
Genetics and biology
Depression has always been linked to genetics. It has been researched that children whose parents have depression can be at the risk of getting one. However, the specific genes have not been identified. Biological factors influence all aspects of our behavior. Faulty genes, endocrine imbalances, malnutrition may interfere with normal development and functioning of the human body.
Certain drugs also lead to depressive symptoms for example benzodiazepines and beta blockers.
Chronic illness that lasts for a very long time and can usually be not cured can cause depression. Heart disease, diabetes, HIV are some examples of chronic illness.
Poor nutrition can contribute to depression in several ways. A variety of minerals and vitamins deficiencies are known to cause depression symptoms. Diets that are low in omega -3 fatty acids are associated with increased rates of depression.
Certain events in our life
A lot of events in our life prove to be quite stressful for us. Our ability to cope with those events may not be sufficient to help us overcome it. Loss of a job can be a stressful event for one person but not be to another. It depends on how we perceive them to be. Certain traumas in our life can lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The after effects are so long that the person needs immediate medical attention and rehabilitation service. Our culture also Affects Depression.
Treatments are given according to the needs of the person and their symptoms.
- A lot of therapies are used like the Cognitive behavioral therapy; the focus is on modifying negative thoughts, behaviors.
- Behavioral therapy modifies harmful behavior associated with psychological distress. And psychotherapy or the talk therapy that it is commonly called.
- Psychodynamic therapy is a therapeutic approach that understands the behavior and feelings rooted in past experiences and resolves them.
- Medications have also proven to be very effective in treating depression symptoms. Antidepressants help reduce or control symptoms but they take almost 12 weeks to reach full effect. Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) is the most common antidepressant.
- For some people, brain stimulation therapies can show great effects. Electroconvulsive therapy is one form. Small amounts of currents are passed through the brain causing changes in brain chemistry.
Now all these are the medical help that you may opt for but other than that
- Making changes in your routine.
- Getting proper sleep.
- Maintaining a proper diet.
- Setting goals for oneself are the small things that can make changes in our life.
- Put yourself into hobbies that can be engaging so that negative thoughts are out of reach.
- Accepting and reaching out to others for help is the first step towards positive mental health.
- A lot of organizations come forward and support those suffering from depression or any other symptoms. There are support groups where people can go and talk and share their views or anything about their life. This helps in the first step that is acceptance.
‘If you care, you would ask’ we have become so engrossed with our lives that we don’t look for people who have our backs. The people whom we sometimes don’t give time might be calling us for help. A help that requires more than just listening to them but also supporting them for the battle they are fighting with one own self. As already said it can happen at any time so age is no constraint. Just because someone is having a breakdown at the age of 13 doesn’t make it any less vulnerable. I repeat again something that might not be stressful for you can be for the other person, so don’t judge.
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand, they listen with the intent to reply”- Stephen R. Covey. Depression can always be cured with the support of friends and family. Everyone has to be sensitive to each other because all of us are vulnerable from the inside. It’s just some of us hide very nicely. We often feel sad for ourselves when things don’t turn out our way. This gets us into the cycle of self-doubt, loathing and then taking it out on ourselves.
Don’t be too harsh after all we are humans with flaws. We are in the same hurdle trying to perfect ourselves. Society has played its role in the stigma attached to mental health problems. Talk, scream, whisper and let the world hear you because you are more than your disorder. You are a body with a mind of its own, and thousands of battles to win.
Don’t forget to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below. Your experience might help someone.