Based on World Health Organization (WHO) reports, depression affects over 120 million people across the world. It is shocking to learn that more than 850,000 people die because of depression every year. Therefore it is vital to have a correct understanding of what depression really is. That is the only way to be able to recognize the symptoms of depression early and work on effective treatment.
Depression is an illness that affects the mind and body
When someone experiences symptoms of depression, the negative emotions that a person feels affects them physically as well. The state of mind is reflected in the form of physical symptoms.
Who does depression affect?
People of any age, gender or background can develop depression. Adolescence is the most critical period when hormonal changes along with external factors such as social pressures and academic expectations may trigger off depression. In fact, even children are becoming victims of depression. So do the elderly and women. Women, facing the stress of balancing professional work along with family responsibilities become susceptible to depression. In the same way, pregnancy, childbirth, menopause and other stressful life events may lead to depression. It is well known that men are conditioned to deny their feelings. Nevertheless, men also suffer from depression. Depression does not exclude any group.
What does depression make people feel?
Different negative emotions result in different symptoms of depression. These symptoms are not only the reactions of the mind but they also manifest in the form of physical symptoms. Loss of energy, pains and aches, digestive problems could exist with the symptoms listed above although there may not be a corresponding physical cause. To dismiss these symptoms as ‘being all in the mind’ will not help the sufferer, because the problem is a real one.
What is Major Depressive Disorder (MMD)?
MMD is a form of depression which lasts at least two weeks with a loss of interest in all activities. This is also known as major depression or clinical depression where the person finds no pleasure or interest in any activity.
What is Dysthymia?
Dysthymia is a state of depression that has existed for a long while characterizing a personality disorder. A person suffering from dysthymia is in a chronic depressed mood although this condition is not as severe as that occurring in a major depression.
What is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar Disorder is a state of depression where major bouts of lows of depression alternate with the highs of mania. This form of depression manifests itself when the sufferer swings from a low depressive mood where he or she is unable to do anything, to a manic high where he or she is very high-spirited and exuberant. These changes occur in cycles.
What is Adjustment Disorder?
Adjustment Disorder occurs as a response to a specific stressful event. Any event or incident that causes stress which the sufferer is not able to handle emotionally results in adjustment disorder. The triggering factor could be a change in job, marital status, or relocation. The mood disorder appears as a psychological response.
Changes in neurotransmitters
Neurotransmitters are chemicals that are essential for different parts of the brain to communicate with each other. Changes in neurotransmitters occur due to various causes. When there is an imbalance in the production or absorption of these chemicals, it triggers off depression. Chemical imbalance could be precipitated by different external factors. It could also be hereditary.
Assessment of depression in a person
A complete medical history, physical check-up and a detailed assessment of symptoms are necessary to arrive at a conclusion on what has caused the depression. Different investigations such as blood tests, brain imaging, testosterone levels and CT scan help a doctor to identify the exact cause and rule out other possibilities.
When someone says they are depressed
A depressed person needs help to come out of his problem. He or she cannot just ‘snap out’ of it by themselves. If that need is either ignored or minimized, the condition could worsen. Supportive friends and families are important but professional, trained help must be sought out to identify and treat the disorder.
When someone talks of suicide
Talk of suicide is a cry for help and professional help must be sought immediately. Do not delay and yet it is imperative that there should be no panic reaction since the sufferer needs a calm, steadying influence around him. Monitoring their actions must be done unobtrusively.
Treatment for depression
Treating depression needs a holistic approach. Since it is a disorder that affects a person mentally, emotionally, and physically, treatment does not dwell on drugs alone. Along with medication a patient would need therapy, counseling, a change in diet and lifestyle and above all else a strong support network to get a person out of depression.