Some people find it hard to come to terms with the fact that depression is a very serious condition…Depression deserves our concern…Depression is affecting a lot more people than you can ever imagine… The person right next to you could be battling depression…. YOU are not immuned to Depression!
Yes, someone close to you might be struggling with depression and you might never know…you would probably just think the person is cranky from the heat or just plain broke! And some of us might even be victims ourselves without realizing it because we believe depression is a mood only white people are prone to!
This article intends to help us see depression in a better light perhaps we might be able to identify and help any family or friend dealing with it.
Depression is different from feeling down, sad or unhappy! Unhappiness is something that everyone feels at one time or another owing to a particular cause. On the other hand, a person experiencing depression will experience intense emotions of anxiety, hopelessness, negativity, helplessness and the feelings stay with them instead of going away.
Depression can happen to anyone. Many successful and famous people who seem to have everything going for them battle with this problem. Depression also affects people of every age.
Depression is more than just feeling sad or going through a rough patch. It’s a serious mental health condition that requires understanding, treatment and a good recovery plan. With early detection, diagnosis and a treatment plan consisting of medication, psychotherapy and lifestyle choices, many people get better. But left untreated, depression can be devastating, both for the people who have it and for their families.
Now, what exactly is depression? Depression is an illness that increasingly afflicts people worldwide, interfering with concentration, motivation and many other aspects of daily operations. It is a complex disorder, involving many systems of the body, including the immune system. It disrupts sleep, interferes with appetite, and causes weight loss or even weight gain depending on individuals.
Some people may have only one episode in a lifetime while for most depression recurs. Without treatment, episodes may last a few months to several years. People with severe depression can feel so hopeless that they become a risk for suicide. So the key points to note are:
- Depression is a real illness.
- Depression affects people in different ways.
- Depression is treatable.
- If you have depression, you are not alone.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Depression?
Unhappiness or Sadness is only a small part of depression. Depression has many other symptoms, including physical ones. If you have been experiencing any of the following signs and symptoms for at least 2 weeks, you may be suffering from depression:
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
- Inability to control negative thoughts, no matter how much you try
- Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness.
- Unexplained aches and pains and an increase in physical complaints such as headaches, back pain, aching muscles, and stomach pain.
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
- Decreased energy, fatigue, being “slowed down”
- Reckless or Escapist behavior such as substance abuse, compulsive gambling, reckless driving, or dangerous sports.
- Low self esteem which makes people dwell on losses or failures and feel excessive guilt and helplessness. Thoughts like “I am a loser” or “the world is a terrible place” or “I don’t want to be alive” would take over.
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
- Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
- Consuming more alcohol than normal or engaging in other reckless behavior
- Appetite and/or weight changes
- Thoughts of death or suicide, suicide attempts
- Restlessness, irritability
What are the possible causes and risk factors for depression?
- Lack of family or social support
- Recent stressful life experiences
- Family history of depression
- Marital or Relationship problems
- Financial strain
- Early childhood trauma or abuse
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- Unemployment or underemployment
- Health problems or chronic pain
Even in the most severe cases, depression is highly treatable and early treatment may prevent or forestall recurrent episodes. Just as the symptoms and causes of depression are different in different people, so are the ways to feel better. What works for one person might not work for another and no one treatment is appropriate in all cases.
If you recognize the signs of depression in yourself or a loved one, take some time to explore the many treatment options. In most cases, the best approach involves a combination of family or social support, lifestyle changes, emotional skills building and professional help.
The follow up article will look at the types of Depression, Treatments and Therapy.