We often hear people say they are depressed or they are passing through a certain stressful situation which makes them to be depressed. We grew up to know that being depressed is a state of the mind which transcends to the physical.
What really is depression, how do we manage depression and what are the dangers associated with depression?
Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Also called major depressive disorder or clinical depression, it affects how one feels, thinks and behaves and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems.
The depressed person may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and sometimes they may feel as if life is not worth living. More than just a bout of the blues, depression is not a weakness and the person experiencing depression cannot simply “snap out” of it. Depression may require long-term treatment but this is not enough ground to be discouraged. Most people with depression feel better with medication, psychotherapy or both.
Although most people experience depression only once during their life time, people typically have multiple episodes. During these episodes, symptoms occur most of the day, nearly every day and they may include:
- Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness.
- Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters.
III. Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as sex, hobbies or sports.
- Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much.
- Tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort.
- Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain.
VII. Anxiety, agitation or restlessness.
VIII. Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements.
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame.
- Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things.
- Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or contemplating suicide.
XII. Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches.
For many people with depression, symptoms usually are severe enough to cause noticeable problems in day-to-day activities, such as work, school, social activities or relationships with others. Some people may feel generally miserable or unhappy without really knowing why.
Depression symptoms in children and teens:
Common signs and symptoms of depression in children and teenagers are similar to those of adults, but there can be some differences.
In younger children, symptoms of depression may include sadness, irritability, clinginess, worry, aches and pains, refusing to go to school, or being underweight.
In teens, symptoms may include sadness, irritability, feeling negative and worthless, anger, poor performance or poor attendance at school, feeling misunderstood and extremely sensitive, using recreational drugs or alcohol, eating or sleeping too much, self-harm, loss of interest in normal activities, and avoidance of social interaction.
Depression symptoms in older adults:
Depression is not a normal part of growing older, and it should never be taken lightly. Unfortunately, depression often goes undiagnosed and untreated in older adults, especially in developing countries and they may feel reluctant to seek help.
Symptoms of depression may be different or less obvious in older adults, such as:
- Memory difficulties or personality changes.
- Physical aches or pain.
III. Fatigue, loss of appetite, sleep problems or loss of interest in sex which is not caused by a medical condition or medication.
- Often wanting to stay at home, rather than going out to socialize or doing new things.
- Suicidal thinking or feelings, especially in older men.
Seeking expert medical help
It may not be easy to detect but once a person feels the onset of the aforementioned symptoms of depressions, it is suggested that the person make an appointment to see a doctor or mental health professional as soon as possible.
In case some people are reluctant to seek treatment, it is advised that they talk to a friend or loved one, any health care professional, a faith leader, or someone else who holds a position of trust in their life.
When to get emergency help
It is always advisable as medical case to always keep in mind that emergencies occur. When such happens, it will not be medically wise to stay at home and pray for the best or worse as the case may be, but to quickly get across to the help line which is available with all the telecom service providers in the country.
It is also good to consider these options in case the patient is having suicidal thoughts:
- Call the doctor or mental health professional.
- Reach out to a close friend or loved one.
III. Contact a minister/clergy, spiritual leader or someone else in the faith community or who exercises spiritual influence.
- If the person have a loved one who is in danger of suicide or has made a suicide attempt, it should be ensured that someone stays with that person.
Efforts should be made to call local emergency number immediately, this is available with all the telecom companies operating in the country.
Lastly, if it is safe, the person can be taken to the nearest hospital for emergency treatment.
It’s not known exactly what causes depression. As with many mental disorders, a variety of factors may be involved, such as:
- Biological differences. People with depression appear to have physical changes in their brains. The significance of these changes is still uncertain, but may eventually help pinpoint causes.
- Brain chemistry. Neurotransmitters are naturally occurring brain chemicals that likely play a role in depression. Recent research indicates that changes in the function and effect of these neurotransmitters and how they interact with neuro-circuits involved in maintaining mood stability may play a significant role in depression and its treatment.
III. Hormones. Changes in the body’s balance of hormones may be involved in causing or triggering depression. Hormone changes can result with pregnancy and during the weeks or months after delivery (postpartum) and from thyroid problems, menopause or a number of other conditions.
- Inherited traits. Depression is more common in people whose blood relatives also have this condition. Researchers trying to find genes that may be involved in causing depression.
Depression often times begins in the teens, 20s or 30s, but it can happen at any age. More women than men are diagnosed with depression, but this may be due in part because women are more likely to seek treatment.
Factors that seem to increase the risk of developing or triggering depression include:
- Certain personality traits, such as low self-esteem and being too dependent, self-critical or pessimistic.
- Traumatic or stressful events, such as physical or sexual abuse, the death or loss of a loved one, a difficult relationship, or financial problems.
III. Blood relatives with a history of depression, bipolar disorder, alcoholism or suicide.
- Being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, or having variations in the development of genital organs that are not clearly male or female (intersex) in an unsupportive situation.
- History of other mental health disorders, such as anxiety disorder, eating disorders or post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Abuse of alcohol or recreational drugs.
VII. Serious or chronic illness, including cancer, stroke, chronic pain or heart disease.
VIII. Certain medications, such as some high blood pressure medications or sleeping pills.
Depression is a serious disorder that can take a terrible toll on the sufferer and their families. Depression often gets worse if it is not treated, resulting in emotional, behavioral and health problems that affect every area of your life.
Examples of complications associated with depression include:
- Excess weight or obesity, which can lead to heart disease and diabetes.
- Pain or physical illness.
III. Alcohol or drug misuse.
- Anxiety, panic disorder or social phobia.
- Family conflicts, relationship difficulties, and work or school problems.
- Social isolation.
VII. Suicidal feelings, suicide attempts or suicide.
VIII. Self-mutilation, such as cutting.
- Premature death from medical conditions.
There’s no sure way to prevent depression. However, these strategies may help.
- Take steps to control stress, to increase your resilience and boost self-esteem.
- Reach out to family and friends, especially in times of crisis, to help weather rough spells.
III. Get treatment at the earliest sign of a problem to help prevent depression from worsening.
Consider getting long-term maintenance treatment, both medical, counselling and spiritual to help prevent a relapse of symptoms.