Depression is a struggle for a lot of people. It has negative effects to our professional and personal lives. Depression can be mild or severe, chronic or short lived, depending on what triggered it. It may be genetic or environmental.
WHAT IS DEPRESSION?
Depression is a common and serious medical illness that is characterized by persistently depressed mood or lack of interest in activities, causing significant negative impact in daily life. It negatively affects the way you think, feel and act.
DEPRESSION AND THE CAUSES
Depression can be triggered by loss, substance abuse, birth of a baby, change of season, underestimation of effort and committing to unrealistic deadline, performance improvement plan when a person is already “on the edge”, hostile environment, desire for recognition of efforts but constantly criticised or prejudiced.
WHAT’RE THE SYMPTOMS OF DEPRESSION
- Decreased energy and chronic fatigue.
- Difficulty concentrating, making decisions or recalling.
- Pain, aches, cramps or gastrointestinal problems without any clear cause.
- Changes in appetite or weight.
- Difficulty sleeping, waking up early or oversleeping.
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies.
- Persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety or emptiness.
- Feeling hopeless.
- Anger, irritability or restlessness.
- Feeling guilty or experiencing feelings of worthlessness or helplessness.
- Thought of death or suicide.
TYPES OF DEPRESSION
There are different types of depressions which includes
- Major or Clinical Depression which has two types, namely Atypical Depression and Melancholic Depression.
- Seasonal Affective Disorder
- Substance Induced Mood Disorder
- Bipolar Disorder, and there’s Bipolar I and Bipolar II.
- Psychotic Depression
- Peripartum Depression
- Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
- Situational Depression
- Persistent Depressive Disorder
MAJOR OR CLINICAL DEPRESSION
Symptoms of Atypical Depression include increased appetite, sleeping more than usual, heavy arms and legs, emotionally reactive and very anxious. It is common amongst young adults. Your mood can be temporarily improved by a positive event. It can be treated by antidepressants.
Symptoms include trouble sleeping, and tend to ruminate over guilt-ridden thoughts. It is common amongst the seniors.
Major depression persists for two weeks or longer. Sometimes people with major depression do not respond to some antidepressants. Treatment is done thorough counseling to identify the cause, and determine dosage and duration of the treatment.
SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER
This major depression happens during winter months when you get less sunlight. It can be treated through light therapy and antidepressants.
SUBSTANCE INDUCED MOOD DISORDER
Substances that can lead to this type of depression include alcohol (excessive drinking of alcohol), sedating drugs, opioid painkillers which act on central nervous system. Marijuana can also lead to depression, depending on the amount of drug used, age at first use, and genetic vulnerability. Treatment includes counseling sessions with psychiatrist, and medication. Treatment can continue over a longer period.
A person with bipolar disorder has moods episodes ranging from extremely high energy mood to low depressive depression. They can be mild or extreme, and is prevalent to teenagers and young adults with family history of mood disorder or psychiatric problems.
Moods swings between extreme states of depression and intense mania. With mania a person might be abnormally happy, not sleeping, playing loud music, very talkative, have hallucinations, psychosis, delusions, and paranoid. Irritability may be hostile. Hospitalization and medication is required.
In this case a person has depression but with a lesser form of elation called hypomania.
PSYCHOTIC DEPRESSIVE DISORDER
This is a severe depressive illness which includes hallucinations and delusions. A person with this kind of depression may think that others are trying to harm him, may think he is possessed by evil spirits. A person get angry over absolutely nothing, sleep during the day and awake at night neglect himself, and say things that make no sense. It requires hospitalization.
This is a depression experienced by some women during pregnancy or after childbirth. Traditional antidepressants may help.
PREMENSTRUAL DYSPHORIC DISORDER
Women with PMDD have depression and other symptoms at the start of their period. Besides depression one may experience change in appetite or sleep habits, feeling overwhelmed. Antidepressant medication or oral contraceptives can treat PMDD.
It is sometimes difficult to manage a stressful event in your life, such as death of a loved one, a divorce, loosing a job or valuable property. Psychotherapy can help you get through this period.
PERSISTENT DEPRESSIVE ORDER
This is a chronic form of depression. It comes and goes over a period of years. A person lose interest in normal daily activities, feel hopeless, less productive, experience low self esteem, and feel inadequate. It interferes with relationships, work or school performance.
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU BELIEVE A DEPRESSED PERSON IS AT RISK OF HURTING HIMSELF OR OTHERS
- Call your local emergency number.
- Don’t leave the person alone.
- Don’t try to drive the person to hospital yourself. Rather call an ambulance and police.
- Remove anything that may cause harm.
- Listen, don’t argue nor judge, don’t threaten nor yell.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU SHOW SYMPTOMS OF DEPRESSION
See a doctor when you see symptoms of depression. A physician will diagnose and refer you to a psychiatrist.
It is important to identify the cause of your depression. The treatment process begin with medical diagnosis. You will be asked questions about your symptoms, what types of symptoms you have, how long you have had them, and how severe they are.
Your doctor will assess your symptoms, explore possible physiological factors that might contribute to depression. After you being diagnosed of major depressive disorder your doctor will determine the right thing to do depending upon your symptoms and what he believes is causing your depression.
He must rule out the medical causes. Chronic illnesses, thyroid conditions, certain medications, and substance use can cause or contribute to symptoms of depression.
The underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) can contribute to depression. So your doctor will conduct blood tests, and if the blood tests reveal that you have underactive thyroid he may prescribe antidepressants, which work by
balancing the chemicals in your brain called neurotransmitters which include serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, and have an effect on emotions and moods.
Your depressiom treatment will involve a combination of antidepressants medication and psychotherapy. It may take time to find the medication and treatment approach that is right for you. Psychotherapy can include talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, pyschodynamic therapy, and individual counseling.
Talk therapy involves discussing issues that contribute to your depression symptoms. Your family members may also be interviewed.
COGNITIVE BEHAVIORAL THERAPY
Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on the underlying negative thought patterns that contribute to symptoms of depression.
Just like medication based approach, psychotherapy depression treatment may take time. Therapist help you develop coping skills that help you manage your stress, deal with negative thoughts, emotions, and manage your fears. Treatment can last several months or even a year or longer.
You may experience side effects which vary upon the type of antidepressants you are taking. These may include headaches, weight gain, sexual dysfunction, nausea, insomnia, constipation and restlessness. You must continue using your antidepressants until your doctor tells you to stop. Stopping to use them without your doctor’s approval may worsen your symptoms.
Lifestyle changes that can help you manage depression include avoiding stress, exercise, diet, sleep, meditation, avoiding alcohol and drugs.
It can be difficult to avoid stress, but you must try. There’s variety of factors that can cause stress, which include family life, work, relationship and money.
Exercise relieve depression by producing the feel-good neurotransmitters along with endorphins which creates a mood stirring effect which aids in reducing stress, and thus the prevalence of depression.
Disorders of carbohydrate metabolism all affect the central nervous system. You must increase intake of Omega 3 through diet or supplements. Eat fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and whole grain.
You need to drink six to eight glasses of water. Water facilitates the signaling pathway and nutrients delivery to the brain, remove toxins and inflammatory markers and provides energy sources for brain, and thereby improves brain functioning.
Try to improve your sleeping patterns.
Mindfulness meditation, which involves breathing exercise, is essential for psychological therapy. Meditation creates emotional balance and promotes confidence and awareness. It facilitates greater sense of calmness, empathy, and acceptance of self and others.
AVOID ALCOHOL AND DRUGS
There’s a chance that a person who have depression also have an alcohol or drug disorder. Alcohol or drug use can make the depression symptoms worse.