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Depression in simple terms is a low mood that lasts for a long time and affects your everyday life. Depression is a common mental disorder and one of the main causes of disability worldwide. Globally, an estimated 300 million people are affected by depression. The occurrence of depression is found more in women than men (WHO report). Depression is characterized by sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, tiredness, and poor concentration. People with depression may also have multiple physical complaints with no apparent physical cause.
In its mildest form, depression can mean just being in low spirit. It doesn’t stop you leading your normal life but makes everything harder to do and seem less worthwhile, but the situations completely change when depression is severe or acute. Depression can be life-threatening because it can make you feel suicidal or simply give up the will to live.
It starts as a sadness where a person feels shutting down. But if the feelings are interfering with your life and do not go away after a couple of weeks, or if they come back over and over again for a few days at a time, it could be a sign that you’re experiencing depression.
Types of Depression
* Postnatal depression (PND) – Occurs in the weeks and months after becoming a parent. Postnatal depression is usually diagnosed in women but it can affect men, too. (after giving birth to a child)
* Prenatal depression – Sometimes also called antenatal depression, it occurs during pregnancy. (before giving birth to a child)
* Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) – A depression that usually (but not always) occurs seasonally, not chronic in nature.
* Dysthymia- A chronic depression that lasts for two years or more.
Symptoms of Depression
As mentioned above feeling low or sad is not depression but a Major Depressive Episode (MDE). Depression is a period of at least two weeks where for most of the time, the person has felt sad or depressed or hasn’t enjoyed the things he or she normally likes to do. The major symptoms of depression are when people feel:
* Down, upset or tearful.
* Restless, agitated or irritable.
* Guilty, worthless and down on yourself.
* Empty and numb.
* Isolated and unable to relate to other people.
* Finding no pleasure in life or things you usually enjoy.
* A sense of unreality.
* No self-confidence or self-esteem.
* Suicidal tendency.
These feelings also affect the behavior of the person in many ways and they react like:
* People starts avoiding social events and other mingling activities.
* Self-harming or suicidal behavior.
* Difficulty in speaking and thinking clearly.
* Losing interest in sex.
* Difficulty in remembering or concentrating on things.
* Increase in the usage of tobacco, alcohol or other drugs than usual.
* Finding it difficult to sleep or oversleeps.
* Exhausted all the time.
* People may start losing weight, or vice versa.
* Changes in their movement pattern, either moving very slowly, or being restless and agitated.
Depression is not related to any ethnic background, level of education, how much money someone makes and relationship status. It does seem to be related to gender as depression is twice as common in girls as guys. No body exactly knows the reason behind this difference, which could be any of the things like differences in their biology (e.g., different genes or hormones), differences in how society treats males and females, or due to other factors entirely. Here are some of the events or causes leading to depression:
A) Childhood experiences:
~ Physical, sexual or emotional abuse
~ Neglect
~ Loss of someone close
~ Traumatic events Unstable
B)Life events
~Losing of the job
~End of a relationship bereavement
~Major life changes, like changing job
~Being physically or sexually assaulted or bullied
C) Mental health problems
~Eating problems
~PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)
D) Physical health problems
~Chronic health problems
~Life threatening illnesses
~Health problems that significantly change your lifestyle
~Conditions affecting the brain and nervous system
~Hormonal problems, especially thyroid and parathyroid problems
~Symptoms relating to the menstrual cycle or the menopause
~Low blood sugar
~Sleep problems
Treatment and self-care
There are effective treatments for depression. Mild to moderate depression can be effectively treated with talking therapies, such as cognitive behavior therapy or psychotherapy, self-care and medication. Both self-care and therapy treatments are quite effective in the management of the depression and have shown results of reduced depression.
A person should be self-aware about the condition which he/she is going through. By taking an active role in their own
experiences can make a big difference in the overall condition of a person suffering from depression. Few self-care techniques that can keep a person functioning well in depression are: * Look after yourself
1. Get good sleep
2. Eat well and keep yourself active
3. Maintain hygiene
4. Stay away from alcohol
* Practice self-care
1. Treat yourself
2. Create a resilience tool kit (list of activities that improves the mood like favorite movies or books, writing down things)
* Keep yourself active
1. Join some social group of interest
2. Try volunteering
3. Set realistic goals
* Challenge your low mood
1. Maintain the mood cycle calendar
2. Challenge your thoughts
3. Join some peer support group 4. Connect with people
The type of treatment for depression depends upon two aspects:
1. How much your symptoms are affecting you? (level)
2. Your personal preference for what sort of treatment you find helpful.
The main treatment measures include: * Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). – Talking treatment which focuses on how your thoughts, beliefs and attitude affect your feeling and behavior.
* Group-based CBT
* Computerized CBT (CCBT) – This is CBT delivered through a computer program or website
* Interpersonal therapy (IPT)
* Psycho dynamic psychotherapy
* Behavioral couple’s therapy – If you have a long-term partner, and your doctor agrees that it would be useful to involve them in your treatment
* Alternative treatments – Arts therapies, mindfulness, eco therapy, and peer support etc.
* Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)
* Medication for depression.