Depression : Understand, Fight and Win

Depression is curable, non-transferable and can occur frequently. Feeling sad or low is nothing serious, but if continued for a considerable time, then it classifies to psychological disorder. Depression is a common psychological disorder and WHO considers it as “leading cause of disability”, worldwide. Depression can lead to suicide and is different from common short-term emotional fluctuations. Though it is common, but it is serious.

Depression and Mental Health

In the rush of everyday routine, we carry on with our activities and sometimes beneath that dull smile is a saddened heart. You feel like, carrying on your weight in energy-less manner and doing daily chores with no interest in anything around. Suddenly, you have lost the need and excitement to talk to people, go to socialize with friends, feel low and often feel tired and sleepy. It seems to affect daily life and specially your interest and attitude towards the things that you liked to do sometime ago. If all these are started to happen and happens for most part of the week, you are slipping towards depressive disorder.

The thing about this disorder is that it can be ignored until it starts hampering your daily life. This is what happens with most of the people. We all have faced depression in our lives and fought it. But not all have the same luxury to be victorious and some need help and reinforcement. The point here emphasized is that, being too common, it is often left unnoticed and many-times ignored. Do you know, women have double probability than men to develop “depressive disorder”.

It affects mental health adversely. You find hard to enjoy, to concentrate, to continue any task and slowly it starts affecting your physical health too. It makes you dumb in short run, and dumber in long run. It is something which must be understood and tackled by its horns. The first best step is, awareness about being depressed, then to fight back and win. Yeehaaw !

So lets start the campaign!


Clinical Depression/ Depressive Disorder

There are certain symptoms of depression and when a person is diagnosed with those symptoms, almost every day for minimum of 2 weeks, then the person is said to be having “Depressive Disorder” or “Clinical Disorder”. The medical expert will also analyze the changes in your routines and patterns in pre-depression period. Also, there are certain medical conditions which can show symptoms like depression, they can be like vitamin deficiency or thyroid problems etc.

Symptoms and Signs of Depression

Depression can happen to anyone. The surprising thing about it is, that many people suffer from it and they keep on ignoring it, despite knowing that something is wrong with them.  In many countries, there is no awareness and importance given to mental health in general. Let us see some common symptoms of depression: 

  • Feeling sad, melancholy, lonely, hopeless and helpless.
  • Feeling of not being loved, worth-less, and guilty.
  • Feeling energy-less, mostly tired and fatigued.
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities or hobbies once enjoyed.
  • Frequent mood swings and anxiety.
  • Changes in eating pattern and appetite resulting in weight loss or gain.
  • Not interesting in eating or not feeling hungry.
  • Oversleeping or finding difficult to sleep or feeling sleepy during the day.
  • Unable to concentrate and remembering things.
  • Dwelling on negative thoughts and emotions (Ruminating).
  • Thoughts of suicide. 
  • Restlessness resulting in irritability and inability to sit still.

Depression affects different people in different ways. As said earlier, that women are more prone to depression than men as per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Depression in women can also be due to changes in life-cycle, hormonal changes and even biological changes. Usually they show symptoms of guilt, sadness and worthlessness. While men generally shows symptoms of restlessness, irritable behaviors, anger, abusive behavior, loss of interest in work or continuous over-work, avoidance of social situations etc. Men usually fail to detect the onset of depression and are sometimes hesitant to seek help. When it comes to older people, the symptoms are hardly visible and less likely to admit such symptoms, it is usually accompanied by medical conditions like heart attacks etc.

While in children you can see extreme behavior like either too reserved or rebellious nature with vocal out-bursts. Often crying and loss of energy is seen in children.

Depression is Different from Sadness and Grief 

Do not confuse depression with sadness and grief. They all can co-exist. So it is important to understand the differences. Grieving about a loss of a loved one or some other loss is a natural human emotion, here there is no loss of self-esteem or self-worth. But in depression there is loss of self-esteem and self-worth.

In grieving or being sad, there can be thoughts of suicide which subsides and there are phases of positivity, but in depression, there is sole emphasis to end ones life.

Sadness and grief does not continue for a long time and eventually a person becomes normal and life comes back on track. But in depression, there is loss of interest in the things which the person usually loved to do.

Plausible Causes for Depression

Psychologists around the world are working hard to find the causes behind depressive disorder, but complex human behavior presents many challenges. Some of the widely accepted reasons behind depression are:

  • Genetic Causes: Yes! It can run in your genes and depression can be inherited. Though here it means, that the genes are programmed in such a way that you are vulnerable to depressive disorder.
  • Changes in Neurotransmitter Levels: Changes in the chemicals in your brain-activity can be one of the causes.
  • Environment: Certain level and duration of exposure to the environment of sadness, pessimism, violence, loneliness, etc can lead to depression. Also, major planned or unplanned changes in life.
  • Personality: People with low-self esteem or those who are in a low phase of their emotions are vulnerable to be depressed. Such people often get panicky easily and generally remain stressed.
  • Social and Psychological: Self-worth in society and cognitive dissonance resulting in extreme emotions or prolonged stress can also lead to depression.
  • Other Prevailing Disorders: Having other psychological disorders can also lead to clinical depression.
  • Substances: Consumption of alcohol and drugs. Smokers are more prone to depression and other mental health conditions as compared to non-smokers.

Types of Depressive Disorders

Persistent Depressive Disorder

Also known previously as “Dysthymic Disorder“. A person having low mood for most of the days for at least two years, along with having at least two or more other symptoms of depression is said to be suffering from Persistent depressive disorder. Such disorder, often sets in from childhood, teenage or early adult-life.

Bipolar Disorder

In Bipolar disorder, there changes in mood (mood swings), energy levels, activity, concentration and ability to do routine works. Such changes are distinctly visible. There are mood swings ranging from highs to lows, which results in depression to manic highs. You can clearly see an “up”, characterized by high energy, elated, restless and irritable behavior, which are all manic highs. Then you have depressive lows which are characterized by low energy, sadness and hopelessness. When phases of manic highs or depressive lows, last for minimum 7 days extending upto 2 weeks, then it could be “Bipolar I Disorder”. But when these phases of higs and lows occurs with not major manic highs, it is “Bipolar II Disorder”. When there are defined periods of depressive lows and manic highs, which lasts for minimum 2 years in adults and 1 year in children and adolescents, then it is known as Cyclothymic Disorder (also called Cyclothymia).

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), is a type of major depression which is linked to season change.  It is often recurrent with the changes in seasons and the symptoms persist from 4 to 5 months. What you call as “winter blues” is common during fall and winter and people feel “down” when days get shorter and feel better with longer days. It affects in terms of mood changes and sadness with feeling sleepy or tired. Exposure to bright light or spending more time in sun can be beneficial to some extent. Also, many people feel similar kind of mood swings and tiredness during summer months, termed as summer-pattern SAD or summer depression, it is quiet rare. Apart from common symptoms there are additional symptoms for winter-SAD and summer-SAD. Winter-SAD additionally has hypersomina (oversleeping) and withdrawal from daily life similar to hibernating and weight fain. While summer-SAD additionally can result in weight loss, loss of appetite, anxiety etc. For SAD to be identified, it must be noticed for a particular season for 2 years. Not all people experiencing SAD, will have symptoms every year. 

Psychotic Depression

When depression is accompanied by “psychosis”, it is known as psychotic depression. Here we see that the patient exhibits delusions (false belief) or hallucinations (A perception of having seen, heard, touched, tasted or smelled something that wasn’t actually there) or paranoia (irrational and persistent feeling that people want to harm you) or both. Generally those who are suffering from psychotic depression have sad mood and often feels down. 

Peripartum (Postpartum) Depression

This type of depression is seen in new moms. It is a type of complication related to giving birth. In the process of giving birth, there are sea changes of hormones and hormonal imbalances in a female body. Peripartum (Postpartum) Depression is different from “Baby Blues”. Baby Blues, is mood swings, anxiety, crying etc. experienced within 2-3 days after the delivery which can last upto 2 weeks. But when these symptoms are intense and longs lasting to the extent of upto 1 year after the birth, then it is called Peripartum (Postpartum) Depression. It can affect in bonding with the baby too. Anti-depressants and sometimes oral contraceptives are given by medical practitioners for this. No medication should be taken without the advice and under the supervision of a certified medical professional.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)

In this the depression sets in 1 week to 10 days before menstruation. They typical symptoms are: irritability; anxiety; sensation of bloating; fatigue; breast tenderness; weight gain; mood swings; food cravings; muscle pain; inability to sleep properly etc.  PMS (Premenstrual syndrome), and PMDD are somewhat similar, the only difference is that PMDD is more intense. The depression usually improves or stops once the menses begin. During this, lifestyle and diet changes are helpful. Also, one need to avoid alcohol and caffeine containing drinks. Breathing exercises, mediation, exercise, nutritional food etc. are helpful. Most often, doctors prescribe supplements, antidepressants or birth control pills.

Situational Depression

When depression occurs due to changes in life, it is called situational depression. It is often short term and related to stress or tension. It improves when you adapt to the changes. It could be due to sudden events like divorce, accident, relationship issues, breakup or could be due to planned events like relocation etc. Most often the symptoms affect within 90 days of the event.

Atypical Depression

Atypical depression is quiet common and mostly seen at an early age or during adolescence. It if often considered to be a “specifier” which specifies or describes or exhibit the pattern of a major depression and its symptoms. From the list of 9 symptoms given below, the patient has at least 5 symptoms:   

  1. Thoughts of suicide or related thoughts.
  2.  Tiredness or fatigue everyday.
  3. Unable to enjoy things that were once being loved to do.
  4. Sadness or depressed mood, majority of the day.
  5. Unable to concentrate.
  6. Loss of appetite and weight loss.
  7. Being guilty or feeling worthless.
  8. Either excessive sleep or under sleep (insomnia).
  9. Restlessness so severe that it can be seen by others.

Hope this article “Depression : Understand, Fight and Win“, makes you aware and knowledgeable regarding depression and its types. Other articles cover the types in detail and tips to fight depression. And remember, a smile is most inexpensive yet effective remedy. 

Disclaimer

This article is meant to make the reader aware and give information regarding a psychological condition with the intent to spread awareness only. In no manner, this article should be considered or compared to medical advice, prescription, report, scientific report or any such thing which can medically or in any manner of psychiatry or psychology be related to the mentioned topic of depression. 

RAJAT JHINGAN

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