Depression is among the common mental health disorders and is mostly treatable. 1 in 5 women and 1 in 10 men suffer from depression at some point in their life. 10-15% patients of depression commit suicide.
Symptoms of Depression
Depression involves a cluster of symptoms that affect the individual’s thoughts, feelings and behavior. These include the following,
Feelings of unhappiness that don’t go away
Being unable to enjoy anything
Losing interest in life
Feeling extremely tired
Feeling restless or agitated
Feeling irritable Losing appetite and weight (with some, the reverse happens and they put on weight)
Facing difficulty in sleeping / Waking up earlier than usual
Going off ‘sex’
Finding it hard to make even simple decisions
Feeling useless, inadequate and hopeless
Avoiding other people
Feeling worse at a particular time of day, usually mornings
Thinking of suicide
Causes of Depression
Biological causes – Deficiencies in two chemicals in the brain, norepinephrine and serotonin, are thought to be responsible for certain symptoms of depression.
Genetic causes – Depression can run in families.
Personality/ Psychological causes – People who are easily overwhelmed by stress, have low self-esteem, or who are generally pessimistic are vulnerable to depression.
Environmental causes – Long term exposure to abuse, violence, neglect, or deprivation can make people who are already susceptible to depression even more vulnerable.
Depression can still occur under ideal living conditions. It is important to understand as there is a general feeling that only those who are weak have depression. But depression like any other medical illness can happen to anyone.
Treatment of Depression
Depression is among the most treatable of mental disorders. Treatment for depression includes the following strategies depending upon the individual’s symptoms and personal factors.
Medication – Antidepressants may be prescribed to restore the balance in the levels of chemicals in the brain. These medications are not sedatives, “uppers,” or tranquilizers and they are not habit-forming. Antidepressants usually take full effect within 3-6 weeks after medicine has begun. Psychiatrists typically recommend that patients continue to take medication for 6 or more months after symptoms have improved.
Psychotherapy – Psychotherapy may be used either as a standalone treatment for mild depression or in combination with antidepressant medications for moderate to severe degrees of depression.
Both medical and psychotherapeutic treatments when used together yield best results. Medications must be taken only as advised by your treating profession. Good social and family support can also be very helpful in the management of depression; it improves the outcome of the patient and helps in faster recovery.