Depression is more than just feeling sad or blue, it’s a complex and debilitating condition that can make it difficult to carry out everyday tasks. So let’s explore what depression actually is, how common it is, and why it is important to educate ourselves about it.
What is depression?
Major depressive disorder, also called depression, is a mental health disorder affecting your mood and ability to function. One’s thoughts, emotions, and actions can be affected by it and can cause physical symptoms, such as fatigue, changes in appetite or sleep, and aches or pains. The World Health Organization (WHO) calculates that 5% of adults experience depression.
Sadness or a loss of interest in previous attractions are indications of depression. It can range from mild to severe. Depression affects around 3.8% of people worldwide. This includes 5.0% of adults and 5.7% of adults over 60 years old.
What are the symptoms of depression?
A depressive episode can be characterized as mild to moderate to severe depending on how often it occurs, the intensity of symptoms, the impact on the person’s functioning, and the length of the occurrence. Some signs of depressive disorder are:
What causes depression?
Depression is a condition that can occur at any stage of life, but it typically arises during adulthood. Let’s discuss the causes of depression. It’s not as simple as you might think. There are many factors that contribute to it – biological, environmental, and genetic. Here are some of the common causes of depressive disorder:
Genetics: If a family member has depression, it’s possible that you could be more likely to develop it, too. This is because depression can run in families.
Biological factors: Biological factors refer to the physical changes that happen in the body.
Biochemistry: Differences in brain chemicals may contribute to depression.
Life events: Depression may be brought on by tension, losing a loved one, distressing incidents or trauma, loneliness, and a lack of social support.
Personality: Individuals who have management problems or are quickly overwhelmed may be more susceptible to depression.
Medical conditions: Chronic physical pain and illness may contribute to depression. It is common for conditions like diabetes and cancer to coexist with depression in some individuals.
Environmental factors: Exposure to violence, neglect, abuse, or poverty can increase susceptibility to depression.
Medication: Some prescription meds can cause depression as a side effect, while both alcohol and recreational drugs can worsen or trigger depression.
Substance abuse: Abuse of substances, for instance, alcohol and drugs, could worsen depressive symptoms or, in seldom situations, even cause depression.
"People don't die from suicide, they die from sadness."
What are the types of depressive Disorder?
Major depressive disorder, the depression caused by bipolar disorder, postpartum depression, and a low-grade, chronic depression known as dysthymia and seasonal depression are the main types of depressive disorder that are generally recognized by experts.
Persistent depressive disorder, or what professionals call dysthymia. It’s a persistently low mood that lasts for most days over two years or more. Symptoms may not be as severe as Major depression, they may still have an impact on your quality of life.
Postpartum depression, also referred to as postpartum disorder. Symptoms include fatigue, sadness, anxiety, and thoughts of harming oneself or the baby. With all the pressure and hormonal imbalances that come with new parenthood, postpartum depression can be challenging and overwhelming. Research shows that postpartum depression actually begins during pregnancy; for that reason, the condition is also sometimes called peripartum depression.
Seasonal depression, usually called seasonal affective disorder (SAD), is another type of depression that happens during specific times of the year. Symptoms usually begin during autumn and winter when there are fewer daylight hours. Lethargy and oversleeping, or hypersomnia, are common features of winter SAD, along with weight gain; summer SAD is more often accompanied by insomnia. This condition is known for causing trouble in both falling asleep and staying asleep.
Bipolar disorder, or depression characterized by mood swings that alternate between the extreme poles of depression and mania. Mania is a period of intense excitement, enthusiasm, and energy, which can progressively lead to high-risk behaviors.
How is depression disorder treated?
Depression is a treatable condition, even in severe cases. Early intervention is key to effective treatment. Treatments for depression include psychotherapy, medication, and self-help strategies such as exercise, healthy eating, and quality sleep. Complementary treatments like massage, acupuncture, hypnosis, and biofeedback may also be helpful for minor or recurring symptoms. For severe cases, brain stimulation therapy such as TMS, ECT, and VNS may be beneficial. ECT is reserved for those who have not responded to other treatments. Overall, there are many options available for those seeking treatment for depression.
What things can you do to prevent depression?
If you have experienced depression before, you may be at a higher risk of experiencing it again. Start with self-help which is taking care of yourself. First and foremost, start by getting some exercise. Exercise is known to release endorphins, which are known as the ‘feel-good’ hormones. Another way to calm your nerves down is through meditation and mindfulness. Meditation is one of the most effective ways to do this, and it is easy to learn. Just breathe and focus on your breaths- in, and out.
Also, try to bring yourself to the present moment and be mindful of your surroundings. While we’re on the subject of mindfulness, remember to have a healthy diet. Eat mindfully, maintain a nutritious diet, and avoid eating in front of any screens. The next step would be having some good sleep hygiene. Try to get to bed on time, and sleep for at least seven hours.
Avoid taking your phone or laptop to bed with you, and try not to watch movies or use social media before bedtime. Also, Avoid alcohol, nicotine, or drugs. keep maintaining your treatment plan. Lastly, make sure to have some social support. Talk to your friends, family, or any trusted support groups. You’re not alone in this battle. Remember, there’s no single solution to depression. However, by working on yourself, you can fight it better.
Let’s recap the blog. Firstly, seeking help for depression is critical to improving the overall quality of life and managing symptoms. . Whether it’s talking to a therapist or taking medication, there’s no shame in getting the help you need. Secondly, we need more conversations about mental health. The stigma surrounding depression can prevent people from seeking help, and that needs to change. Remember, you’re not alone in this. We should continue to support each other and break down the barriers that can make depression feel isolating. If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, you are not alone and there is help available.