A complete Guide of Depression

Sep 04, 2019

Shaking on the first day of school, not getting adjusted with the new workplace, terrible relationship with families and friends, death of a family member, death of a favorite pet – just to name a few of the unwanted events that can happen in a person’s life. These are mostly associated with the feeling of fear, sadness, grief, and anxiety and normally take about a few days after that specific negative event happened. There are people who can cope up easily and on the other hand, there are those who bear it for a long period of time.

What happens next if these feelings last longer than the usual? That is when depression arises.

What is depression?

Depression – classified as a mood disorder, is a common and serious medical condition that negatively affects how people think, respond, and adapt with the activities of daily living, such as eating, walking, and sleeping. It is accompanied by a variety of emotional and physical problems such as a feeling of sadness and loss of interest in activities or hobbies that are normally perceived as pleasurable. It can also decrease a person’s ability to fully function at home and at work.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, depression affects an estimated 6.7% or one in every 15 adults in any given year. And there is about 16.6% or one in six people will experience depression at some time in their life. On average, it appears during the late teens to mid-20s. Women are more likely to experience depression than men. Other studies also show that about one-third of the women will experience a major depressive episode in their lifetime.

The National Institute of Mental Health listed different types of depression that may develop in a person:

  • Persistent depression. Otherwise known as dysthymia. A person with major depression may also experience less severe symptoms that may last for about two years.
  • Postpartum depression. Some women experience postpartum depression while they are pregnant or right after childbirth. It is accompanied by the extreme feeling of anxiety, sadness, and exhaustion that makes it challenging for the new mother to take care of herself and the baby.
  • Psychotic depression. This is common for people with severe depression who also experience (1) delusions – disturbing fixed false beliefs, and/or (2) hallucinations – seeing or hearing things that other people do not see or hear.
  • Seasonal affective disorder. It usually occurs when there is less sunlight. It is also called winter depression. It is typically accompanied by increased sleep, social withdrawal, and weight gain.
  • Bipolar disorder. A person who is diagnosed with bipolar disorder may also experience moods that are highly relevant to the criteria of having depression.

Close monitoring of signs and symptoms

A person may be suffering from depression if the following enumerated signs and symptoms are present for a minimum period of two weeks:

  • Sad, anxious, feeling empty mood
  • Lack of interest in doing activities or hobbies
  • Feeling down and hopeless
  • Feeling guilty, worthless, and helpless
  • Low energy and fatigue
  • The low and slow tone of voice
  • Feeling agitated
  • Difficulty in focus and inattention
  • Inadequate sleep
  • Irritability
  • Changes in appetite causing weight loss or gain
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Other digestive and physical problems like headaches, cramps, acidity, without an apparent cause

The severity and frequency of the symptoms may vary depending on the stage of illness of a person. It is best to consult with a family doctor or psychiatrist for further evaluation.

Risk factors

According to the American Psychiatric Association, depression can affect anyone. The following are listed as risk factors associated with a depressive mood disorder:

  • Biochemistry. Different chemicals in the brain contribute to the symptoms of depression.
  • Genetics. It runs in the family. A family member who has been diagnosed with depression will more likely to pass this on to the next of kin, and the list goes on.
  • Personality. A person who is easily affected by stressors and gets stress in an instant appears to be more likely to experience depression.
  • Environmental factors. Physical and emotional abuse plays an important role for some people to be more vulnerable to depression.

Treatment and therapies

Fortunately, depression can be treated – with medications or therapies – or a combination of the two. Antidepressants are given to treat depression. These medications may help the person to relax by improving the way the brain uses chemicals that control mood or stress. There are times when a person needs to try several medications before finding out the best option that will help alleviate the symptoms and at the same time with tolerable effects. Through an interview or evaluation by a psychiatrist, the medications that have helped a family member in the past may also be considered.

There are several types of psychotherapy approach applicable to people with depression. Psychotherapy is also called “talk therapy” or simply counseling because it helps people to talk about the issues or stressors that have caused them to feel the symptoms of depression, and by doing so, helps them feel relaxed by releasing the tension in their mind and body.

In the event that medications and therapies won’t work for a special condition of a person, electroconvulsive therapy may be introduced. Electroconvulsive therapy is a medical treatment used for patients with the major depressive disorder who have not reacted to other forms of treatment. It involves a brief electrical stimulation of the brain while the patient is under anesthesia. It is done by a group of medical professionals featuring psychiatrist, anesthesiologist, nurse, or physician assistant. It is given two to three times a week for six to twelve treatments.

Help a person avoid depression

Although all the information given is already helpful, prevention is still better than cure. There are many ways to avoid depressive mood disorder, however, if already with depression, these are additional ways to help further:

  • Be active and exercise regularly
  • Get enough quality of sleep
  • Eating a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy weight
  • Avoiding alcohol (anti-depressant)
  • Set realistic goals to achieve one at a time
  • Spend more time with trusted people
  • Confide and discuss things only with people you are most comfortable with
  • Build strong and solid relationships
  • Let other people help
  • Expect that the improvement occurs gradually and not immediately
  • Continue to educate yourself about depression
  • Maintain your treatment plan
  • Visit your psychiatrist regularly to check for the progress

The best therapy is talking to your parents, or close family members, or any loved and trusted ones. There is much chance to do this is every day. And always make it a daily goal to have a peace of mind. Remember that a healthy mind, body, and soul will start with a healthy and conscious you.

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