How often do we keep hearing someone say that he or she is depressed! That something is not right with me. I am not weak, in fact I have been strong for far too long. However, I cannot take it any longer and hence, I want to quit. Please help me!
Depression is classified as a mood disorder. It may be described as feelings of sadness, loss, or even anger that interfere with a person’s everyday activities.
It’s fairly common. People experience depression in different ways. It may interfere with your daily work, resulting in lost time and lower productivity. It can also influence your relationships and cause some chronic health conditions.
Conditions that can get worse due to depression include: arthritis, asthma, cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity.
It’s important to realize that feeling down at times is a normal part of life. Sad and upsetting events happen to everyone. But, if you’re feeling down or hopeless on a regular basis, you could be dealing with depression.
Depression is considered a serious medical condition that can get worse without proper treatment. Those who seek treatment often see improvements in symptoms in just a few weeks.
Depression can be more than a constant state of sadness or feeling “blue.”
Major depression can cause a variety of symptoms. Some affect your mood, and others affect your body.
Symptoms may also be ongoing, or come and go.
The symptoms of depression can be experienced among men, women, and children differently.
Men may experience symptoms related to their:
mood, such as anger, aggressiveness, irritability, anxiousness, restlessness
emotional well-being, such as feeling empty, sad, hopeless
behaviour, such as loss of interest, no longer finding pleasure in favourite activities, feeling tired easily, thoughts of suicide, drinking excessively, using drugs, engaging in high-risk activities
sexual interest, such as reduced sexual desire, lack of sexual performance
cognitive abilities, such as inability to concentrate, difficulty completing tasks, delayed responses during conversations
sleep patterns, such as insomnia, restless sleep, excessive sleepiness, not sleeping through the night
physical well-being, such as fatigue, pains, headache, digestive problems
Women may experience symptoms related to their:
mood, such as irritability
emotional well-being, such as feeling sad or empty, anxious or hopeless
behaviour, such as loss of interest in activities, withdrawing from social engagements, thoughts of suicide
cognitive abilities, such as thinking or talking more slowly
sleep patterns, such as difficulty sleeping through the night, waking early, sleeping too much
physical well-being, such as decreased energy, greater fatigue, changes in appetite, weight changes, aches, pain, headaches, increased cramps
Children may experience symptoms related to their:
mood, such as irritability, anger, mood swings, crying
emotional well-being, such as feelings of incompetence (e.g. “I can’t do anything right”) or despair, crying, intense sadness
behaviour, such as getting into trouble at school or refusing to go to school, avoiding friends or siblings, thoughts of death or suicide
cognitive abilities, such as difficulty concentrating, decline in school performance, changes in grades
sleep patterns, such as difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
physical well-being, such as loss of energy, digestive problems, changes in appetite, weight loss or gain
There are several possible causes of depression. They can range from biological to circumstantial.
Common causes include:
Family history. You’re at a higher risk for developing depression if you have a family history of depression or another mood disorder.
Early childhood trauma. Some events affect the way your body reacts to fear and stressful situations.
Brain structure. There’s a greater risk for depression if the frontal lobe of your brain is less active. However, scientists don’t know if this happens before or after the onset of depressive symptoms.
Medical conditions. Certain conditions may put you at higher risk, such as chronic illness, insomnia, chronic pain, or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Drug use. A history of drug or alcohol misuse can affect your risk.
About 21 percent of people who have a substance use problem also experience depression. In addition to these causes, other risk factors for depression include: low self-esteem or being self-critical, personal history of mental illness, certain medications, and stressful events, such as loss of a loved one, economic problems, or a divorce.
Many factors can influence feelings of depression, as well as who develops the condition and who doesn’t. The causes of depression are often tied to other elements of your health. However, in many cases, healthcare providers are unable to determine what’s causing depression.
There isn’t a single test to diagnose depression. But your healthcare provider can make a diagnosis based on your symptoms and a psychological evaluation.
In most cases, they’ll ask a series of questions about you’re: moods, appetite, sleep pattern, activity level and thoughts.
Because depression can be linked to other health problems, your healthcare provider may also conduct a physical examination and order blood work. Sometimes thyroid problems or a vitamin D deficiency can trigger symptoms of depression.
Don’t ignore symptoms of depression. If your mood doesn’t improve or gets worse, seek medical help. Depression is a serious mental health illness with the potential for complications.
If left untreated, complications can include:
weight gain or loss
substance use problems
thoughts of suicide
Depression can be broken into categories depending on the severity of symptoms. Some people experience mild and temporary episodes, while others experience severe and ongoing depressive episodes.
There are two main types: major depressive disorder and persistent depressive disorder.
Major depressive disorder
Major depressive disorder is the more severe form of depression. It’s characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness that don’t go away on their own.
In order to be diagnosed with clinical depression, you must experience 5 or more of the following symptoms over a 2-week period:
feeling depressed most of the day
loss of interest in most regular activities
significant weight loss or gain
sleeping a lot or not being able to sleep
slowed thinking or movement
fatigue or low energy most days
feelings of worthlessness or guilt
loss of concentration or indecisiveness
recurring thoughts of death or suicide
Persistent depressive disorder
Persistent depressive disorder (PDD) used to be called dysthymia. It’s a milder, but chronic, form of depression. In order for the diagnosis to be made, symptoms must last for at least 2 years. PDD can affect your life more than major depression because it lasts for a longer period.
It’s common for people with PDD to:
lose interest in normal daily activities
have low self-esteem
Depression can be treated successfully, but it’s important to stick to your treatment plan.
Living with depression can be difficult, but treatment can help improve your quality of life. Talk to your healthcare provider about possible options.
You may successfully manage symptoms with one form of treatment, or you may find that a combination of treatments works best.
It’s common to combine medical treatments and lifestyle therapies.
Your healthcare provider may prescribe:
Each type of medication that’s used to treat depression has benefits and potential risks.
Speaking with a therapist can help you learn skills to cope with negative feelings. You may also benefit from family or group therapy sessions.
Exposure to doses of white light can help regulate your mood and improve symptoms of depression. Light therapy is commonly used in seasonal affective disorder, which is now called major depressive disorder with seasonal pattern.
Ask your healthcare provider about acupuncture or meditation. Some herbal supplements are also used to treat depression.
Talk with your healthcare provider before taking a supplement or combining a supplement with prescription medication because some supplements can react with certain medications. Some supplements may also worsen depression or reduce the effectiveness of medication.
Aim for 30 minutes of physical activity 3 to 5 days a week. Exercise can increase your body’s production of endorphins, which are hormones that improve your mood.
Avoid alcohol and drugs
Drinking or misusing drugs may make you feel better for a little bit. But in the long run, these substances can make depression and anxiety symptoms worse.
Learn how to say no
Feeling overwhelmed can worsen anxiety and depression symptoms. Setting boundaries in your professional and personal life can help you feel better.
Take care of yourself
You can also improve symptoms of depression by taking care of yourself. This includes getting plenty of sleep, eating a healthy diet, avoiding negative people, and participating in enjoyable activities.
Sometimes depression doesn’t respond to medication. Your healthcare provider may recommend other treatment options if your symptoms don’t improve.
These include electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), or repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) to treat depression and improve your mood.
Traditional depression treatment uses a combination of prescription medication and counselling. But there are also alternative or complementary treatments you can try.
It’s important to remember that many of these natural treatments have few studies showing their effects on depression, good or bad.
Depression is a common mental disorder. Globally, more than 264 million people of all ages suffer from depression.
Depression is a mood disorder that involves a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. It is different from the mood fluctuations that people regularly experience as a part of life.
Major life events, such as bereavement or the loss of a job, can lead to depression. However, doctors only consider feelings of grief to be part of depression if they persist.
Depression is an ongoing problem, not a passing one. It consists of episodes during which the symptoms last for at least 2 weeks. Depression can last for several weeks, months, or years.
Depression often 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
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 aren’t 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
Serious or chronic illness, including cancer, stroke, chronic pain or heart disease
Certain medications, such as some high blood pressure medications or sleeping pills (talk to your doctor before stopping any medication)
The risk of isolation
It can sometimes be hard to explain your thoughts and feelings to others. You might find it difficult to talk about your depression and instead you might cut yourself off from other people. The more overwhelming your symptoms, the more isolated and lonely you might become.
Without treatment and support, depression can have an impact on your relationships, work, finances and overall health, so it’s important to get help as early as possible.
Is depression caused by a chemical imbalance?
The human brain is extremely complicated. Because antidepressants work by changing brain chemistry, some people have assumed that depression is caused by changes in brain chemistry which are then ‘corrected’ by the drugs. Some doctors may tell you that you have a ‘chemical imbalance’ and need medication to correct it.
But the evidence for this is very weak, and if changes to brain chemistry occur, we don’t know whether these are the result of the depression or its cause.
When does grief become depression?
Grief, and the low mood that comes with it, is a natural response to losing someone or something we love. How long your grief, or bereavement, lasts will be individual to you. This period of feeling low is referred to as bereavement.
But if you feel that what you’re experiencing might be something more than just grief, you can talk to your doctor about it. You might want to try bereavement counselling first, as this may be more helpful for you than general treatment for depression.