It’s most likely you might have heard of depression at some point in time or known of someone who is suffering from it. It’s a condition that affects millions of people in the world. It’s also likely that you may even have it and have no idea that you do.
In a nut shell, it’s a mental condition or rather a psychiatric condition that is characterized by a state of persistent low mood and reluctance to activity that affects a person’s thoughts, feelings, behavior, and sense of well-being. If you are suffering from this condition, you may feel sad, overly anxious, hopeless, worthless, empty, angry, irritable, ashamed, restless, and guilty almost all the time. You may lose interest in all the activities you previously loved engaging in, experience relationship difficulties, experience loss of appetite, have problems making decisions, or in worse cases, attempt suicide.
Most people often ignore depression, not knowing that it’s a silent killer. In fact, the World Health Organization describes it as one of the most disabling conditions in the world as it affects about 1 in 5 women and 1 in 10 men at some point in their lifetime. It’s a serious condition that requires immediate treatment.
So, how do you know that you’re suffering from depression? Well, if you experience or rather identify the following symptoms, then it’s possible that you’re depressed.
• Feeling sad all the time
• Loss of interest in activities you once found pleasurable
• Becoming easily irritated, short-tempered, and more aggressive than normal
• Difficulty focusing/concentrating
• Loss of energy and fatigue
• Loss or appetite or Overeating
• Feeling hopeless, worthless, and helpless
• Consuming too much alcohol or taking drugs or engaging in reckless behaviors
• Change in sleep patterns- insomnia, waking up too early or oversleeping
• Self-hatred because you feel worthless or guilty
• Unexplained aches and body pains
• Attempts to hurt you
• Weight gain or weight loss
• Withdrawing from people
• Hallucinations or delusions in cases of severe depression
Types of Depression
Depression is known by various medical terms, several of which signify a particular diagnosis. They include;
• Major Depression: Also known as major depressive disorder, it is characterized by a profound and constant sense of despair and hopelessness. It may occur only once, but may occur several times in a lifetime.
• Psychotic Depression: In this case, you may experience hallucinations (feeling or hearing unreal things) or delusions, which are irrational thoughts and fears.
• Depressive Disorder with Seasonal Pattern: This is a rare form of depression disorder that tends to recur every year at the same time. It may start in fall or winter and end in spring or early summer. It may also begin in late spring or early summer and end in fall.
• Dysthymia: Also known as Chronic Depression, Dysthymia is a less severe form of depression, although its symptoms may linger for a long period of time, sometimes years. If suffering from this condition, you may be able to function normally but be consistently unhappy.
• Postpartum Depression: Also known as Postnatal Depression is a form of depression that commonly affects women after giving birth. It’s said that they experience “baby blues.” This is considered severe and is estimated to affect approximately 1 in 10 women.
Bipolar Disorder: Also known as Manic Depression, is a form of depression characterized by alternating mood changes. The switch from one mood to the next is gradual, with each episode lasting for weeks.
Bipolar disorder treatment is different from other depression treatment as anti-depressants can make the condition even worse.
Causes of Depression
The causes of depression have not yet been discovered or understood. However, scientists claim that there is no single cause, just like with many mental disorders. Many different factors may contribute or increase your chances of developing the condition. They include;
• Genetic or Inherited Traits
You may develop depression if one or some of your blood relatives also have this condition. There is ongoing research on what genes are involved in causing depression.
• Brain Chemistry
Recent studies have found that changes in the function and effects of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, and how the interact with the neurocircuits whose function is to maintain mood stability, may play a role in depression as well as its treatment.
• Biological Differences
Research has found that people suffering from depression appear to have some physical changes in their brains, a discovery whose significance has not yet been helpful in pinpointing the real cause of the condition.
• Hormonal Imbalance
Changes in hormone levels in the body have been found to cause or rather trigger depression. Hormonal balance may fluctuate during pregnancy, after delivery (postpartum depression), due to menopause, or from thyroid problems.
Factors That Increase the Risk of Depression
Some factors many increase your risk of developing depression or trigger the condition. Most of these are day-to-day life changes that are basically unavoidable. They include;
• Traumatic events such as child abuse, rape, accident, death or loss of a loved one, financial constraints, separation or divorce, and a complicated relationship
• Diagnosis of chronic illnesses such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease
• Loneliness and Isolation
• Unemployment, underemployment, or job loss
• Substance abuse
• Health conditions such as chronic pain, diabetes or cancer
• Lack of social support
• Harassment or bullying at school or work
• Certain medications such as some beta-blockers, corticosteroids, reserpine, and interferon can all trigger depression
• Previous head injury
• Past diagnosis of depression
• Certain personality traits such as low self-esteem, low self-confidence, self-criticism, being too independent, and being pessimistic.
• Family history of depression
Depression Treatment and Care- What Can Help
Depression treatments vary. There are a range of effective medications as well as psychical therapies that help treat the condition. There are also lifestyle changes you may need to adopt to speed up the recovery process.
There are countless medications for treating depression. Your doctor may recommend the best medication for your specific symptoms.
Psychotherapy is one of the best depression treatments. It involves speaking to a mental health provider about your condition as well as related issues. The therapist may recommend a number of solutions and making significant changes to help in the treatment of the condition.
Other significant therapies include interpersonal therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and psychodynamic therapy.
• Electric Shock Treatment (ECT)
Also known as Electroconvulsive therapy, Electric Shock Treatment is used for chronic depression or as a last resort when medications fail.
• Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)
The treatment is also used in people who haven’t responded to antidepressant medication. It works to stimulate the nerve cells in the brain that are practically involved in mood regulation and depression.
Depression Treatment with Lifestyle Changes
Medications and therapies are not enough to treat depression. You need to make some adjustments in your lifestyle for a speedy recovery. These lifestyle changes include;
• Regular exercise
• Healthy diet consisting of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and high-quality proteins
• Consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids
• Getting Adequate Sleep
• Managing Stress
• Becoming more Socially Active
• Avoiding or reducing your alcohol intake
• Quitting Smoking
• Managing Personal Relationships
It’s not advisable to ignore the aforementioned depression symptoms. The earlier you get diagnosed and treated, the better as you’ll avoid future complications. Be sure to look out for these symptoms and get professional assistance immediately.