What is depression
Dr. Goyal Rewa Psychiatrist and neuroscientist . He is currently looking for ways to enhance mental wellness. In addition, Dr. Goyal Rewa is regarded as one of the top psychiatrists in India. He has made a substantial contribution to our understanding of schizophrenia and depression through his work on mental health services for those living with mental disease.
What is depression? What are the Types and Cures of Depression?
Depression is a common and severe medical and mental illness that negatively affects a person’s way of acting and thinking.
Life is full of ups and downs – and this is quite the same for all, so feeling sad or lost sometimes is okay. However, if you constantly keep on having repetitive self-harm thoughts, are consumed by suicidal thoughts or even, in some way, find your thoughts hindering your productivity, then it is not okay.
Mental health is as important as physical health, yet as life progresses, we ignore our mental health and become a victim of depression.
From a medical point of view – the meaning of depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of depressed mood or sadness. Depression affects how you feel, think, and behave and can interfere with your ability to function and carry on with daily life.
A depressed person might feel sad and lose interest in activities once enjoyed. It can expose one to various emotional and physical situations and considerably decrease your ability to function and indulge in those activities at work and home.
What are the symptoms of depression?
There are several symptoms of depression which can vary from mild to severe and from person to person, such as –
- Feeling sad, annoyed and grumpy for no apparent cause
- Loss of interest or pleasure in things which were once exciting
- Fluctuation in mood
- Either sleeping too much or too little
- Eating either too much or too little
- Abnormal or sudden weight gain or loss
- Lack of productivity and loss of energy
- Feeling nervous, anxious, worthless or guilty
- Increased fatigue and difficulty in concentrating
- Being indecisive, having more purposeless physical activity
- Repetitive self-harm and suicidal thoughts
Any of these symptoms lasting at least two weeks while representing a change in your previous lifestyle and overall functioning indicate a diagnosis of depression.
Certain medical conditions such as thyroid, brain tumour or vitamin deficiency, in general, can also have similar symptoms, so it is essential to rule out general medical causes.
On average, every 1 in 6 (16.6%) people experiences depression at some point in their life, and on an estimation 1 out of 15 adults (6.7%) is affected by depression in any given year.
One can be diagnosed with depression at any stage of their life. However, depression first appears in their late teens or their mid-20s. Studies have shown that women are more likely to experience depression than men. According to such studies, one-third of women will experience a major depressive phase in their lifetime. Also, the degree of heritability of depression is as high as 40% when first-degree relatives (parents/children/siblings) have depression.
What are the causes of Depression?
Any person can be affected by Depression – even someone perceived to be leading a well-settled and fulfilled life.
These factors can play a significant role in Depression –
Genetics: As mentioned earlier, 40% of people can inherit Depression from their families. Depression can run in families.
Personality: Those with low self-esteem are easily overwhelmed by stress and even, at some point, seek validation from others to validate their existence. Such people are often drowned in pessimistic thoughts, leading to Depression.
Biochemistry: Changes in certain chemical hormones in the brain may even contribute to the symptoms of Depression
Environmental and Social Factors: Being exposed to violence, physical or verbal abuse, assault, insults, poverty, neglect, and inattention may make some people more vulnerable to Depression
Medication: Some medications may trigger depression as a side effect. Often, recreational drugs and alcohol can also cause depression.
Life Events: Pro-longed or long-term acute stress, death of a loved one, childhood traumas, and isolation can plant the seed of insecurity within people leading to depression.
Medical Conditions: Physical illnesses may lead to mental illness. People suffering from health conditions like cancer, dementia, Parkinson’s, hypertension, diabetes, etc., can often dwell upon those points and end up in depression.
What are the different types of Depression?
There are seven different types of Depression.
Major Depressive Disorder –
Common clinical Depression is known as Major Depressive Disorder. Several key features, such as characterise Major Depressive Disorder –
- Depressed mood
- Constant thoughts of death and suicide
- Losing interest in hobbies
- Sleeping problems (Insomnia) or sleeping throughout the day
- Weight gain or loss
- Feeling guilty and worthless
- Feeling restless, agitated and lacking concentration
Although these symptoms differ from person to person and are significant in those facing Depression, if a person experiences the majority of these symptoms for more than two weeks, he might be diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD).
Persistent Depressive Disorder –
Persistent Depressive Disorder, also known as Dysthymia, is a type of chronic Depression that continues for more than two years. It can be mild, moderate, or severe.
People might experience brief periods of not feeling depressed. However, this phase lasts for two months or less.
Symptoms of Persistent Depressive Disorder may include –
- Low-self esteem
- Trouble concentrating
- Feeling guilty and hopeless
- Changes in appetite
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Fatigue and lack of energy
- Anger and irritability
- Loss of interest and pleasure
Treatment for persistent depressive disorder often uses medications and psychotherapy.
Bipolar Disorder –
Bipolar disorder or Manic Depression is a type of Depression characterised by periods of abnormally elevated mood known as mania or extreme Depression. The mild periods (hypomania) can be the opposite of depressing events that go as far as causing marked impairment in a person's life or affecting a person's sense of reality. Such situations can even require hospitalisation.
The cycle of 'ups' and 'lows' continue, and in the 'low' phase, you may have symptoms of Major Depression.
Symptoms of Bipolar disorder include –
- Fatigue, insomnia, and lethargy
- Hopelessness and loss of self-esteem
- Irritability and anxiety
- Unexplained aches, pains, and psychomotor agitation
Seasonal Affective Disorder –
If you experience depression, sleepiness, and weight gain during the winter but feel perfectly fine in spring and summer, this phenomenon is known as “Seasonal Affective Disorder” (SAD). SAD is a period of significant depression that happens in winter when days grow shorter. Such a condition occurs as the days grow shorter and you get less sunlight than in the other seasons; the longer nights give you a feeling of despair.
Psychotic Depression –
Psychotic depression refers to depression in a patient suffering from a psychic disease. If you are depressed and continue hallucinating, you suffer from psychotic depression.
Symptoms of psychotic depression include –
- Believing in events and occasions that never occurred in reality
- Fearing that someone might harm or kill you
Atypical Depression –
Experiencing signs of depression such as overeating, excessive sleeping, being susceptible to rejection, etc., i.e. atypical features is atypical depression. Atypical depression doesn't remarkably follow what is thought to be the "typical" during the disorder's presentation.
Symptoms of Atypical Depression include –
- Being extremely sensitive to rejection
- Excessive eating
- Weight gain
- Feeling tired, weak, and feeling "weighed down."
- Excessive sleeping
Depression that occur in Women –
Pre-partum/ Postpartum Depression –
Pregnancy can bring several hormonal changes in women, which causes mood swings. Such depression can be either at the onset during pregnancy or after childbirth.
Mood changes, anxiety, irritability, and other symptoms are common after childbirth and might last up to two weeks. PPD symptoms are pretty severe and long-lasting
Symptoms of Pre-partum/ Postpartum Depression include –
- Severe mood swings
- Changes in appetite
- Low mood
- Feeling sad
- Feeling helpless and hopeless
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Social withdrawal
- Having thoughts of self-harm, child-harm, suicide
- Loss of interest in things
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) –
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) symptoms are similar to premenstrual syndromes (PMS), such as irritability, fatigue, anxiety, moodiness, bloating, increased appetite, food cravings, aches, and breast tenderness. However, the symptoms related to mood are more pronounced.
Symptoms of Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) include –
- Extreme fatigue
- Feeling sad and hopeless
- Food cravings or bringing
- Inability to concentrate
- Extreme mood swings
How to overcome depression?
Depression can be cured in several ways.
Mental health experts suggest certain medicines that treat depression, such as –
Antidepressants – to relieve symptoms of depression
SSRIs – a class of drugs that eases depressed mood and anxiety
Anxiolytic – is used to relieve stress and tension and may promote sleep
Psychotherapy or talk therapy is also effective with other treatments like medications in the early and late stages. Psychotherapy can give you a new perspective on dealing with your problems. It helps ease stress and gradually makes you aware of your symptoms and treatments.
Light therapy –
Light therapy is known to ease depression. Exposure to natural sunlight or white light can reduce the symptoms of depression. It, in turn, helps to regulate your mood. Light therapy helps treat the seasonal affective disorder.
Alternative Therapies –
Alternative therapies such as acupuncture, meditation, or herbal supplements help with depression. However, taking the wrong supplements can bring more adverse effects on depression. Hence, you must be very careful before taking them.
Lifestyle changes –
Adding new changes to lifestyle, such as exercising and sleeping enough, can help with the symptoms. Following a proper schedule, morning routine and eating correctly are beneficial. And also, be mindful of going easy on yourself and taking breaks.
Social support –
Socialising plays a significant role in the treatment of depression. Social engagements help in uplifting your mood and make you feel better.