Depression is a medical illness and not a weakness as many like to think. It is considered a serious medical condition and can get worse without proper treatment. However, it is important to note that feeling down or sad at times is a normal part of life as sad or unfortunate events happen to everyone. But, it becomes alarming when you always feel sad, miserable and hopeless all the time. You could be dealing with depression.
WHAT IS DEPRESSION?
Depression is a form of affective disorder characterized by a disturbance of mood. It is a feeling of decreased pleasure in usual activities, sleep disturbances, and change in level of energy and feelings of guilt, helplessness or worthlessness.
People experience depression in different ways. It may interfere with your daily work, resulting in low productivity. It can also influence relationships and some chronic health conditions.
According to studies, it is estimated that 1 in 10 people over the age of 18 have a form of depression, totalling 15 million people in the United States.
According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 8.1 percent American adults ages 20 and over had depression in any given two –week period from 2013 to 2016.
Nevadans are more depressed than residents of the vast majority of other states, according to a study by a non-profit that says budget cuts to mental health services would probably worsen the situation.
The nation’s largest mental health non-profit, Mental Health America, ranks Nevada last on their list of state mental-health rankings. Nevada ranks 36th for prevalence of mental illness. A ranking that encompasses six metrics ranging from mental illness and substance abuse rates, to the number of citizens who have considered suicide or suffered a depressive episode.
WHO DOES DEPRESSION AFFECT?
Sadness can affect people of all ages, genders, and ethnicity.
Women are 70% more likely to have a major depressive episode than men during their lifetime. While there are many similarities among people with depressive condition, there are some noteworthy differences between women and men. Female specific depression conditions include Pregnancy and infertility, premenstrual problems, postpartum depression and menopause.
Women tend to experience what is called atypical depression. This means that they eat more instead of less, and sleep more instead of less.
Men are usually less willing to seek help when depressed or even admit they are depressed. This is because they feel the need to be ‘A Man’ and not show any sign of weakness. For men, not all signs and symptoms seen are the same as common depression.
For instance, instead of feeling sad for a long period of time, they often get angry and irritable for an extended periods. Instead of using food or sleep to support, they often turn to T.V, sports and alcohol to self-medicate.
There are many number of changes teens must cope with and adapt to such as puberty, peer pressures, self-identification and where they fit in the society. However, it is important to know that they also have different signs and symptoms compared to adults.
Teens are more likely to show anger, aggressiveness, and hostility. Teens who are depressed sometimes deal with these pressures using alcohol and drugs, reckless behavior, running away, and violence.
As men and women begin to age, they experience many changes in which they may not be prepared for. Some common changes which they may undergo include; medical problems, retirement, loss of loved ones and friends as well as isolation. Elders with depressive disorder tend to withdraw socially, sad more often, fatigued, lose weight, have sleep problems and suicidal thoughts or attempt.
WHAT CAUSES DEPRESSION?
There are several causes of depression. They can be biological, genetic, and phychological factors.
If there is a family history of depression in your linage, you are at a high risk of developing depression as well.
Certain medical conditions such as chronic illness, insomnia, and chronic pain or Attention-deficit hyperactivity can increase your chances of having depressive episodes.
About 30% of people who have substance abuse problems can experience depression.
Others include; situational events such as a loss of a loved one, relationship problems, divorce, loss of job, financial troubles, personal trauma and social pressures.
COMMON SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF DEPRESSION
Depression can manifest in a number of ways. The following are some of the signs and symptoms of depression.
- Dysphoric mood: Feeling sad, crying easily pessimistic, worried, and fearful, complaining constantly and requesting help.
- Psychomotor agitation and retardation: Showing increased motor activity, restless pacing, restless handwriting, or retarded flow in thought, slow in speech, low voiced, listless, responding slowly to questions, very retarded in motor activity.
- Loss of pleasure, decrease or loss of sex drive: Unable to enjoy those things that previously gave pleasure, nothing brings happiness, decreased libido, impotent or frigid.
- Poor appetite and weight loss: Not hungry, food does not taste good and weight loss is common, a few eat excessively and gain weight.
- Anxiety: Mixed anxiety and depression are common, perspiring excessively, experiencing palpitations, dry mouth.
- Feeling of guilt and self-approach: Demoralized, feeling guilty, hopeless, worthless and full of self-doubt.
- Sleep disturbances: Insomnia is the most common sleep difficulty, it may include initial, middle or terminal insomnia.
- Suicidal tendencies or plans: Suicidal thoughts and intent are very common in severely depressed people.
- Decreased ability to concentrate: Impaired ability to focus on a single idea or object, slow in thinking and indecisive.
- Somatic complaints: Abdominal pains, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, headache, backache and gynaecological problems.
TYPES OF DEPRESSION
There are three common types of depression, includes major depression, Persistent depressive disorder (PDD), and bipolar disorder.
Major depressive disorder is a classic depression with symptoms which include a continued sadness of two weeks or longer, marked decrease in in interest or pleasure in usual activities, an intense feeling of hopelessness, helplessness and worthlessness.
Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD)
Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD) is a form depression that last for at least two years. It is less severe than Major depression, but the symptoms are very similar.
Bipolar Disorder is a form of depression and it is classified as experiencing severe mood swings. A person with bipolar disorder is usually extremely happy one day then shows symptoms of depression such as severe sadness.
TREATMENT OF DEPRESSION
Because depression is a part of normal human experience and feeling of sadness and disappointment are part of daily life, it is often difficult to establish the distinction between normal and abnormal moods.
Diagnosis of major depressive episodes requires the presence of a certain number of depressive symptoms (five) for a minimum specified duration of two weeks that cause clinically significant effect.
Goal of treatment: The obvious goal of treatment for a depressed individual is the resolution of the depressive symptoms. Once the symptoms have been resolved, then the purpose of ongoing therapy is to prevent relapse and recurrence of depressive symptoms.
The various treatment options include the following;
This involves the use of anti-depressants, antianxiety or antipsychotic medications. Each type of medication used to treat depression has benefits and potential risks.
This involves speaking with a therapist that can help you learn skills to cope with negative feelings. Examples include interpersonal psychotherapy and Cognitive-behavioural therapy. Psychotherapy is good for preventing relapse.
Electroconvulsive Treatment (ECT)
Electroconvulsive treatment (ECT) is effective in 90% of patients with depression. ECT is used in patients with a life-threatening suicidal or homicidal psychotic depression, in severely depressed patients for whom anti-depressant agents cannot be used.
Natural treatment uses a combination of prescription medication and counselling. There is also alternative or complimentary treatments you can try such as supplements, essential oils, vitamins, and herbs. The use of acupuncture has also been recommended.
This involves exposure to doses of white light to help regulate mood and improve symptoms of depression. This therapy is commonly used in seasonal affective disorder also known as major depressive disorder with seasonal pattern.
Avoiding Alcohol and Drugs
Drinking or using drugs may make you feel better for a little while. However, these substances can make depression and anxiety symptoms worse.
Take Care of yourself
You can also improve symptoms of depression by taking care of yourself. This includes; getting plenty sleep, eating a healthy diet, avoiding negative people and participating in activities you enjoy.
HOW TO PREVENT DEPRESSION
Yes, depression can be prevented though can be somewhat difficult because it is hard to recognize what causes it. Once you have experienced a depressive episode, you may be better prepared to prevent a future episode by learning which lifestyle changes and treatments are helpful.
Here are a few ways to stay mentally strong and prevent depression.
- Exercise regularly
- Get enough sleep
- Write down three things you are grateful for everyday
- Celebrate your success more often
- Stop comparing yourself with others and focus on yourself
- Use more positive words
- Cry when you are really sad
- Spend some time alone regularly.
- Ask for help when you need one
Mentor Mental Minds can help you deal with depression
Here at MMM, we provide you with experienced health professionals, counselors who are committed to walking you through your journey to recovery and help you become better members of society while living your best life.
If a type of depressive condition is diagnosed, we then work with you and any other involved parties, to develop a comprehensive treatment plan for recovery. Contact us today let’s take you on the road to recovery.