Depression is a form of mental disorder affecting a major chunk of the population these days. It is common medical conditions that can make you feel down all the time. Lack of pleasure, feeling of sadness and losing interest in work that used to be interesting are the most common symptoms. All these signs are common and everyone of us experiences it at some point of our lives. But, when signs persist for several months then it is depression.
In a single year, one in 15 adults suffers from this medical condition. Out of six people, one person experiences depression at least once in life. There is not a time for depression to occur. Depression arrives for the first time in late teens and people at their mid-twenties. Studies suggest that women are more prone to develop depression than men. One out of three women experiences major depressive episode once during a lifetime.
Some common signs and symptoms:
- Feeling of sadness
- Feeling down
- You don’t feel pleasure in works that used to be enjoyable.
- Sleep issues: Either you sleep a lot or you can’t sleep at all.
- Feeling guilty
- Fatigue or decreased energy level.
- Trouble focusing on activities that require attention
- Decision making becomes tough
- Slow speech and sluggish body movements
- Development of suicidal tendency
Note: Some medical conditions such a vitamin deficiency, brain tumor or thyroid problems can resemble signs of depression. Therefore, it is necessary to rule out these medical conditions before arriving at any conclusion.
Diagnosis of depression requires consultation with a mental health expert or psychologist.
The physician will ask about the past medical history and rule out similar medical conditions that mimic signs of depression.
There are few circumstances such as the death of a near and dear one, job loss or relationship issues leads to grief. The person experiencing such an issue may have few symptoms common to depression. Such a person usually complains of having depression. However, it is just an episode of grief or bereavement.
There are few contrasting symptoms such as the person feeling grief will not lack self-esteem. However, a depressed patient will feel worthlessness and lose self-esteem. In some cases, grief co-exists with depression and may lead to major depression. In such cases, grief lasts much longer than usual.
Sometimes doctors ask to take the help of few questionaries’ to diagnose and asses the condition. Hamilton depression rating scale is a set of 21 questions that a doctor usually asks a patient. The doctor then analyses the severity of the depression on the basis of the answer. Hamilton scale is a commonly used method for assessment of depression.
Causes of depression:
The exact cause of depression is not known yet. There are several contributing factors which cumulatively lead to depression. The factors are as follows:
- Genetic: Genetics plays a major role in causing depression. You are more likely to suffer from this medical condition if your parents or grandparents had this illness.
- Biological: Biological factor such as a change in neurotransmitter levels in the brain causes depression.
- Environmental and social: Social and environmental factors play a big role in causing hopelessness. Issues such as continuous exposure to violence, poverty, malnutrition, financial issues, divorce etc. are major contributing factors for depression.
- Personality traits: There people with pessimistic thoughts. They usually have low self-esteem who can’t cope up with adverse conditions.
- Medications: There are few prescription drugs such as beta-blockers, interferon, and corticosteroids.
- Drug abuse: Addictive recreational drugs such as heroin, amphetamine, alcohol.
- Trauma during childhood
- Chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular problems, and COPD.
Depression is a treatable mental disorder. Proper diagnosis and appropriate approach are required to take on depression effectively. More than 80 percent of people respond to the treatment process.
Medications: Antidepressant medications are usually prescribed by the physician. Medicines are recommended in the case of moderate to severe depression and contraindicated in children.
There are a number of antidepressant medications such as
- SSRIs ( Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors)
- MAOIs (Monoamine oxidase Inhibitors)
- Atypical antidepressants
- Tricyclic antidepressants
CBT (Cognitive Behavioural therapy)
CBT is a form of psychotherapy which involves the method distortion of thoughts after identifying the underlying cause of depression. Mild cases of depression respond so well to psychotherapy. However, CBT is usually combined with medications to treat moderate to severe cases of depression.
Exercise: Exercise such a fast walk or aerobics releases a neurotransmitter endorphin which is known to elevate mood. Neurotransmitter norepinephrine is also activated during a physical workout which fights against stress.
Electroconvulsive therapy: ECT or electroconvulsive therapy is recommended particularly in psychotic depression. It is because severe forms of depression cannot be treated well with medications.
Depression is a mental disorder that most of us ignore to adders. However, proper counseling and treatment approach can treat this illness effectively. Always consult a physician or psychotherapist, if you feel down all the time. CBT or other psychotherapy can easily treat mild cases of depression without medications. A major form of depression needs medication for treatment. There are fewer medicines that can lead to depressions and suicidal tendency. Therefore, use them with caution and always after consultation with the physician.