LIFTING THE MYSTERY SURROUNDING DEPRESSION
Mental health is often an issue that is brushed off since it is still considered a taboo. Due to the stigma attached to it, mental illnesses go unnoticed and unaddressed all over the world. There are many people around the world who do not understand what is happening to them or their loved ones and as a result suicide rates are shooting up around the world.
In India, the National Mental Health Survey 2015-16 reveals that nearly 15% Indian adults need active intervention for one or more mental health issues and one in 20 Indians suffers from depression. It is estimated that in 2012, India had over 258,000 suicides, with the age-group of 15-49 years being most affected.
So we will be talking about a few behavioural disorders in detail so that we are aware of them, to be able to help our friends and ourselves when we need it.
Kindly refrain from using this article as a method of self-diagnosis, because only a mental health professional can make a diagnosis. This article is written for the purpose of creating awareness about depression.
Today we talk about depression- clinical depression- which is very different from the everyday random usage of the term ‘depression’ including in media.
The major depressive disorder (MDD) is a serious medical illness that has a negative effect on how you feel, the way you think and how you act. This is a common medical illness which causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can also decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home.
Symptoms according to the American Psychiatric Association (APA):
1. Feeling sad (or having a depressed mood)
2. Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
3. Changes in appetite, weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting
4. Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
5. Loss of energy or increased fatigue
6. Increase in purposeless physical activity (e.g. hand-wringing or pacing) or slowed movements and speech (actions observable by others)
7. Feeling worthless or guilty
8. Difficulty in thinking, concentrating or making decisions
9. Thoughts of death or suicide
The term depression is used very loosely and one might often confuse sadness with depression. Therefore, when we experience grief or sadness, painful feelings come in waves whereas, in major depression, mood and/or interest (pleasure) are low for almost two weeks or more.
People who experience major depression, have feelings of worthlessness and self-loathing whereas, people who experience sadness do not lose their self-esteem.
According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), for some people, the death of a loved one can bring on major depression. Losing a job or being a victim of a physical assault or a major disaster can lead to depression for some people. When grief and depression co-exist, the grief is more severe and lasts longer than grief without depression. Despite some overlap between grief and depression, they are different. Distinguishing between them can help people get the help, support or treatment they need.
Depression can affect anyone, the few factors that can cause depression are: biochemistry of the brain, genetics, personality of a person and the environmental factors influencing the individual.
Depression is among the most treatable of mental illnesses. 80 to 90 per cent of people with depression eventually respond well to the treatment and are relieved from their symptoms.
There are various treatment plans that healthcare professionals choose from, according to what is best for the patient. The two most common treatment options are medication and talk therapy. Let us know more about both of them.
Medication: Brain chemistry is one of the factors that may contribute to an individual’s depression. Antidepressants are therefore prescribed by qualified medical professionals to help modify one’s brain chemistry. Many people refrain from using medications for several reasons but these medications are not sedatives or tranquillizers and they are not habit-forming.
Just like we need medications for a fever we need medications to cure our mental health and there is no difference between the two. It is just because of the stigma that is attached to mental health that we fear taking medications to heal our mental health.
Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy, or ‘talk therapy’, is often used alone for treatment of mild depression; for moderate to severe depression, talk therapy is often used in along with antidepressant medications. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is effective in treating depression. It is a form of therapy focused on the present and problem-solving.
CBT helps a person to recognize distorted thinking and then change their behaviours and thinking.
There are a number of things people can do themselves to help reduce the symptoms of depression. Here is a list of things you should engage yourself in, along with your treatment.
1. Regular exercise- helps create positive feelings and improve mood
2. Meditation- helps in giving peace to the brain
3. Quality sleep- helps in getting enough rest to the mind
4. Eating a healthy diet- helps in keeping the body healthy
5. Avoiding alcohol- because alcohol is a depressant, avoid it can help in reducing symptoms of depression
6. Do not push yourself, take it slow and give time to yourself
Depression is a real illness and it needs to be treated. Help is available and with proper diagnosis and treatment, depression can be defeated. If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, the first step is to see your family physician or psychiatrist. Talk about it with your close friends and this makes a start to addressing your mental health needs.
You can do it, just go easy on yourself. Never stop believing in yourself and loving yourself. You can and will jump over any barrier that you face. Get help and get better!