Depression is a common and serious illness ( Major depressive disorder). That involves the body, mood, and thoughts and affects the way a person eats, sleep, feels about himself or herself, and thinks about things. Mainly creates negative affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Fortunately, it is treatable. It is not the same as a passing blue mood. It is not the condition that can be wished away or not a sign of personal weakness.
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Depression causes a loss of interest in activities/ or feeling of sadness once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of physical problems and emotional and can decrease a person’s ability to function at home and at work. People with depression cannot merely ‘pull themselves together’.
Without a treatment to it, symptoms may last for weeks, months or sometimes years also.
Signs and Symptoms
- Having a depressed mood or Feeling sad
- Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
- Weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting- Changes in appetite
- Sleeping too much or having Trouble in sleeping
- Increased fatigue or loss of energy
- Increased in purposeless physical activity
- Feeling guilty or worthless
- Difficulty making decisions or concentrating and thinking
- Thoughts of suicide or death
- Loss of emotional expression
- A Persistently sad, anxious or empty mood
- Social withdrawal
- Unusual restlessness or irritability
Symptoms must last minimum two weeks for a diagnosis of depression
Also, some of the medical conditions can mimic symptoms of depression like a thyroid problem, a brain tumor or vitamin deficiency. So it is important to rule out general medical causes.
In any year it affects an estimated one in 15 adults(6.7%). One in six people (16.6%) will experience it in their life. It can strike at any time, but on average, first appears during the last teens to mid-20’s.To experience depression women are more likely than men.
Researchers showed that one-third of women experience a major depression condition in their lifetime.
Depression is Different from Sadness or Bereavement
The death of a loved one, ending a relationship or Loss of a job is difficult experiences for a person to endure. It is very normal feeling of Grief or sadness to develop in response to such situations. These are experiences often might describe themselves as being “Depressed”.
But being sad is not the same as depression. The grieving process is unique and normal to each individual and shares some of the same features of depression. Both depression and grief may involve intense sadness and withdrawal from usual activities. Actually, they are different in important ways:
- In grief, Normally painful feelings come in waves but often intermixed with positive memories of the deceased. In major depression, for most of two weeks, mood and interest are decreased.
- Usually, self-esteem is maintained in grief. In major depression feeling of self-loathing and worthlessness are common.
- For some people, the death of loved one can bring them to a major depression. Being a victim of a physical assault or a losing a job or a major disaster in life can lead to depression. When depression and grief co-exist, the grief is more severe and lasts longer than grief without depression
- Despite some overlap between depression and grief, they are different. Distinguishing between them can help people get the support or treatment or help they need.
Risk Factors for Depression
It can affect anyone- even a person who appears to live in the relatively model of perfection or standard excellence.
Many of the factors play a role in it:
- Biochemistry: Certain chemicals in the brain create a difference and may contribute to symptoms of depression.
- Genetics: In families, it can cause and run. For example, if one identical twin has depression, the other has a chance of getting 70 percent illness sometimes in life.
- Personality: People who are generally pessimistic appear and with low self-esteem, who are easily overwhelmed by stress to be more likely to experience it.
- Environmental factors: Continuous exposure to neglect, abuse, violence or poverty may make some people more vulnerable to depression.
How is Depression Treated?
It is the most treatable of mental disorders. Between 90 percent and 80 percent of people with depression actually respond well to the treatment. Once the treatment is completed maximum all patients gain some relief from their symptoms.
Before a treatment or diagnosis, a health professional should conduct a thorough diagnostic evaluation, Including possibly a physical examination and an interview. In some cases, a blood test might be required to be done to make sure it is not due to a medical condition like a thyroid problem. The evaluation is to identify specific symptoms, like in family history, cultural factors, medical and environmental factors to arrive at a diagnosis and plan a course of action.
Brain chemistry may contribute to an individual’s depression and sometimes may factor into their treatment. For this reason, to modify one’s brain chemistry antidepressants may be prescribed.
These medications are not sedatives, tranquilizers or “uppers”. Generally, antidepressants medications have no stimulating effect on a patient not experiencing depression.
Antidepressants may produce some improvement in starting like within first week or two of use. It will take time to show full benefits, may take two to three months. If a patient feels little or no improvement after several weeks, his or her psychiatrist can alter or change the dose of the medication or substitute or add another more antidepressant. Psychotropic medications may help in some kind of situations. If you find or experience side effects, it is important to let your doctor know if a medication does not work.
Talk therapy or psychotherapy is sometimes used alone for treatment of mild depression. For moderate depression to severe depression. Antidepressant medications are often used along with psychotherapy. For treating it Cognitive behavioral therapy(CBT) has found more effective. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a form of therapy focused on the present and problem-solving. CBT helps a person to change behaviors and thinking and to recognize distorted thinking.
Psychotherapy normally involves only the individual, but it can also include others. For example, couples or family therapy can help address the issue within these close relationships. Group therapy involves patients with similar illnesses.
Depending on the severity of it, treatment can take few weeks or more. In many cases, significant improvement can be made in 15 to 10 sessions.
Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT):
Electroconvulsive therapy is a medical treatment most commonly used for patients with severe bipolar disorder or major depression who have not responded to other treatments. While the patient is under anesthesia, therapy involves a brief electrical stimulation of the brain. A person typically receives ECT two to three times a week for a total of six to 12 treatments. Many years of research have led to major improvements. ECT has been used since the 1940’s. It is usually managed by a psychiatrist and a team of trained medical professional, an anesthesiologist, and a nurse or physician assistant.
Self-Help and Coping
There are many ways which people can do to help reduce the symptoms of it. For many people, regular exercise helps create improve mood and increase positive feeling. Getting enough quality sleep on a regular basis, avoiding alcohol and eating a healthy diet can also help reduce symptoms of it.
Depression is a real illness and it requires a help available. With proper treatment and diagnosis, the vast majority of people with it will overcome it soon. If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, a first thing is to see your psychiatrist and a family physician. Talk about your concerns and problems clearly and request a thorough evaluation. This will be a start to addressing mental health needs.