Depression is a feeling of constantly experiencing sadness and low mood. The affected person is no longer interested in the activities once enjoyed. It is common to experience sadness every now and then because life itself is a challenge and it is unpredictable. We never know when a bad news strikes, but for a person with depression the feeling of sadness and low mood is persistent.
Have you ever noticed a family member, friend or colleague who was energetic and happy is now non-energetic and unhappy? People do go through a phase of intense depression, and we need to take cognizance of it. Depression is rampant all over the globe, In United States one in six persons experience a depressive episode, and only 50% who experience high level of depression are given treatment. Based on data produced by National Institute of Mental Health, in United States 11% of adolescents experience a depressive disorder before they reach adulthood. The prevalence of depression in boys and girls is the same before puberty. From the period of adulthood till menopause, the rate of depression in women is 50% more than men.
Types of depression:
Although the emotions experienced by a depressed person is the same, which is feeling of deep sadness. The kind of depression one person experiences is varied from the type another person experiences. To get an idea about the kind of sadness a loved one is experiencing, let us browse through the types of depression.
Major Depressive Disorder:
People with this type of depression are depressed constantly for long periods of time and many days of the week. This is a severe kind of depression, and if you notice your loved one is depressed for long periods of time, then encourage him/her to visit a doctor or mental health professional. In order to be able to determine if a close person is suffering from major depressive disorder, watch out for these symptoms.
Total loss of interest in the activities once enjoyed
The person has trouble sleeping or feels sleepy through out the day
The person loses or gains weight
Feeling of being worthless or unwanted and guilt
Constant feeling of tiredness or lack of energy
Difficulty making decisions and concentrating
Persistent Depressive Disorder:
This type of depression lasts for more than a couple of years, and another term for it is dysthymia. These are the signs to notice if you feel someone is or is likely to suffer from Persistent Depressive Disorder.
The affected person overeats or is not interested in eating
The affected individual tends to sleep a lot or get very little or no sleep
Constant feeling of tiredness or fatigue
Difficulty making decisions or concentrating
Feeling of hopelessness
Bipolar Disorder is referred to as manic depressive illness and here the affected person experiences extreme emotions, mood swings and activity levels. At one moment the person feels elated and at another time the same person feels depressed and experiences a total lack of energy.
Seasonal Affective Disorder:
This type of depression occurs mostly during winter months, and it can also start during fall. It is the lack of sunlight that transforms a persons mood and the person experiences low energy and mood swings. It is important to not take Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) lightly and write it off as winter blues. It is important to encourage the affected person to seek help.
A sign of psychotic depression is you will notice an individual to have major depressive symptoms and periods of psychotic symptoms. Watch out for these symptoms in a person suffering from Psychotic Depression
Delusions or false beliefs- The affected person dwells in false beliefs and is unable to differentiate between what is real and false.
Paranoia- This is a thought process that is heavily influenced by fear or anxiety to a point that the affected person engages in delusions (false beliefs) and irrational thoughts. The person feels others are out there to cause threat or harm.
Hallucination- The affected person loses sense of real-world perception and actually begins to hear and see things that don’t exist.
Causes of depression:
Depression should not be ignored and considered to be just a period of intense sadness and low mood. It is more than periods of sadness and it should be taken seriously, because this is a serious illness. It is medical factors along with life’s circumstances and challenges that causes depression such as change in hormone levels, genetics, grief or stress. One or a combination of these factors causes a change in brain chemistry and it leads to depressive symptoms. As mentioned earlier, depression is a series condition to look into and World Health Organization classifies this to be one of the most damaging disorders around the globe.
An important point to remember is depression does not happen only to a particular kind and section of society. It affects men and women equally from any type of socio-economic background. It is the circumstances in life that causes this condition like marriage, finance, career, parenting and friendship. The illness becomes more severe when it occurs with life’s challenges along with medical symptoms and behaviors like cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, substance abuse, grief and stress.
How to really know whether you or a loved one is suffering from depression, and it is a disorder that affects the overall well-being of a person. Take a note of these symptoms of depression:
Depression affects the thought process of a person, and the affected individual suffers from difficulty in assimilation, has trouble with concentration, and has thoughts of self-harm. The occurrence of hallucinations or delusion happens when the person is suffering from a serious case of depression.
A person with depression experiences feelings of intense anger, guilt, hopelessness, moodiness, sadness and lack of interest in activities once enjoyed.
Observe these behavioral changes in a person with depression. The affected person attempts self-harm, misses school, work and regular commitments, indulges in substance abuse and is not interested in meeting friends or people in general.
Ways to cope with depression:
It isn’t a great feeling at all to go through depression, it makes a person feel down and helpless, and lack of drive to find hope and contentment. It is important for the affected person to gradually cope with issues that is causing him/her to feel depressed and it is also essential for friends or families to offer a source of encouragement.
Get into a social circle like a language class, dance class or a social club, here you will meet people who think alike or people who are also going through depression.
Exercise is important, go for a morning walk or do exercises at home, it releases feel good chemicals such as endorphins, endocannabinoids and neuro-transmitters that reduce immune system chemicals that can increase the severity of depression. The best exercises to fight depression are rhythmic ones where there is no pause in between such as walking, swimming, dancing, weight training and martial arts.
Steadily try to get your mind into the hobbies you enjoy like music, poetry, gardening, cooking, funny movies and shows and so on.
On a day you feel like relaxing take a long hot shower.
Maintain a journal and note down your thoughts and feelings and get inspired to overcome sadness and feel better.
Fight and overcome negative thinking and picture a positive and happy reflection of yourself. To do this write down your fears and the kind of life you desire with the intension of overcoming your fears and working towards the life you want to feel content and full-filled.
If you are upset about not being good enough, gradually work on your weakness and emerge content and victorious.
Try to avoid people who make you feel bad about yourself and mingle with people who admire and cherish you.
Maintain a healthy diet, do not skip meals, and take a note of these foods that fight depression. Turkey and other lean proteins help fight depression; these foods release feel good chemical serotonin. Walnuts and fatty fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids known to effectively fight depression. Low fat dairy like low-fat cheeses, yoghurt and skim milk contain calcium, protein and vitamin D and all these are effective in fighting depression. The healthy high-fiber carbohydrates found in whole grains like whole wheat pasta, sweet potato, oats meal, brown rice and whole-grains are excellent in improving positive mood symptoms by helping the body release serotonin. Amino acid Theanin present in green tea leaves has excellent anti-stress properties. Dark chocolate releases serotonin and excellent in fighting depression. Turmeric is an excellent mood enhancing food.
Most importantly if you feel you or a loved one is suffering from depression, find treatment immediately. The condition is treated with medication and psychotherapy.
It is important to not ignore a person who is suffering from depression, encourage them and it will help the world grow into a productive and caring place.